Fly fishing rules

Every sport has its rules and conventions. Fly fishing is no different.

Rule book

Rules – The dos and dont’s.
Image: Shutterstock

A time honoured tradition of etiquette on the river bank ensures that neither you, nor your fly rod get in anyone’s way. The laws of fair play must be adhered to, so just how should you behave while out wetting your line?

Read on for the fly fishing rules of the road.

Respect those who were there first

If someone got to your favourite fishing spot first, that’s because you should have got up earlier. Leave them to it. Go and fish somewhere else. Avoid the temptation to stand there waiting. It’s no fun trying to fish knowing someone else is hovering in the background willing you to move on.

Reel in

If there are several of you fishing in the near vicinity, it is good etiquette to remove your line from the water. That way you’re giving them maximum room to play their fish and there’s no chance of your line snagging theirs.

Go with the flow

Take note of the direction in which your fellow fly fishermen are casting. It’s polite to fish in the same direction. Cast across other people’s lines and you won’t win any friends.


If you take your dog with you to the river. Ensure that it’s kept on a lead so it doesn’t run around irritating others. If you have a yappy dog, leave it at home so it won’t spook the fish.

Dog with fish

Don’t let your dog go and steal another man’s catch
Image: Shutterstock

Stiff upper lip

Just as us Brits don’t cry when we don’t catch, we don’t whoop when we do. Even if you just played the finest fish of your life. Net it quietly and mutter only the most modest, self deprecating comments when congratulated by your fellow river users. Remember too that most of us head out to the river bank for some peace and solitude. Help maintain the sense of quiet by keeping chatter to the minimum, and your voice low.

Rules are rules

Check for local rules and regulations that cover the stretch of river bank you intend to fish. The way things are done may vary slightly from region to region.

Help out

Be prepared to assist your fellow anglers. You’re all there for the same reason – to enjoy yourselves. Help others to have a good day and you’ll win the esteem of all.