Legendary fly lines

Quotes from famous fly fishing folk

Fly fishing is the subject of a rich collection of poems, anecdotes and quotations.

Here we’ve gathered together some of the best, ‘fly lines’ for your delectation.

Presidential utterings

president hoover fishing

President Herbert Hoover with a day’s catch
Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

American presidents like to pronounce on matters great and small – fly fishing is no exception:

“Be patient and calm – for no one can catch fish in anger.”
Herbert Hoover (31st US President 1929 – 1933)

“All men are equal before fish.”
Herbert Hoover (31st US President 1929 – 1933)

“Many of the most highly publicized events of my presidency are not nearly as memorable or significant in my life as fishing with my daddy.”
Jimmy Carter (39th US President 1977 – 1981)

“I don’t want to sit at the head table anymore. I want to go fishing.”
George Bush (41st US President 1989 – 1993)

Ironic Quotes

Given the varying levels of success that the average fisherman or woman encounters, perhaps it’s not surprising that there’s a rich vein of humour attached to the art of angling.

“The fish and I were both stunned and disbelieving to find ourselves connected by a line.”
William Humphrey in “The Armchair Angler”

“Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher’s salary.”
Patrick McManus

“There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.”
Paul O’Neil

“A fishing pole is a stick with a hook at one end and a fool at the other.”
Samuel Johnson

“The angling fever is a very real disease and can only be cured by the application of cold water and fresh, untainted air.”
Theodore Gordon

“My biggest worry is that my wife (when I’m dead) will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it.”
Avery Wiseman

“All the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish.”
Harold F. Blaisdell, The Philosophical Fisherman

“Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.”
Ernest Hemingway


The great outdoors is the perfect place for contemplation. Here’s what the intellectuals have come up with:

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
Henry David Thoreau

“As the angler looks back, he thinks less of individual captures and days than of scenes in which he fished.”
Lord Grey of Fallondon

“Remember, a dead fish can float down a stream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”
W.C. Fields

“The trout do not rise in the cemetery, so you better do your fishing while you are still able.”
Alfred Miller, Sparse Grey Hackle

“The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent fishing”

“If you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour; if you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.”
Anne Isabella Ritchie
(daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray)