9 Commandments For Fly Fishing From A Boat
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9 Commandments For Fly Fishing From A Boat

  1. Give’m A Broadside!

    – Whether on the lake, river or to some extent the flats the most seasoned fly fisherman will get excited or just forget and start casting the length of the boat. It is ironic that when angler violates this rule with say, #20 midge on his 3wt Orvis Superfine rod, no one ever gets hooked. However; when the same angler is casting his new Sage Method with a super heavy streamer on a sink tip or a nymph rig with two flies and a split shot lengthwise on a boat someone is sure to take a #2 hook to the head. The failure of most anglers to comply with this rule is the reason that there are far too many pictures of the guy rowing the boat with a raincoat on and the hood up on a 90° day.

  2. Anchors Away!

    – This is kind of a two-part rule that needs the first part to be followed for the second to happen. First, don’t forget your anchor if it is your boat. Second, if you are fishing and hook a fish don’t start crying like a baby or screaming for the anchor to be pulled if your fish gets within 30’ of the anchor line.

    Three fly fishermen fishing from a a drift boat
    Always cast across the boat if possible

    Not having an anchor sucks. Forgetting this item can ruin a day. Getting the yips about having the anchor in the water when you have a fish on makes everyone on board want to toss you overboard. Simply move away from the anchor and learn to control your fish! Problem solved!

  3. Two Is Better Than One

    – This rule ties in directly to the previous rule. If you are fishing a lake you will be so much happier if you have two anchors. Being able to anchor both the bow and stern of the boat is almost a must if there is more than one person in the boat unless you fish in a place where the wind doesn’t exist. Being a floating weathervane is so frustrating that it leads to arguments, drinking and the violation of Rule #1. Two anchor lines in the water can make it a little more difficult when you have a fish on but it does keep the boat positioned and Rule #1 much less likely to be violated.

  4. One Half Does Not Equal A Whole

    – If you are in the front of the boat then you get the water from the middle of the boat forward. And if you are in the back then you get the leftover dregs of the guy up front. Seriously, I have seen it happen on rivers and lakes where the anglers I am fishing with think that the other guy’s water is better than his or he sees a fish rise in the other guy’s zone and he can’t resist. Here is the outcome of this situation: A.The guy who is poached on gets mad because the other guy WILL hook the largest fish of the day almost always. Or B. Both guys will cast to the same exact spot and either get tangled or scare the targeted fish. I had one client throw a brand new Tibor reel from his gear bag at his wife when she wouldn’t quit casting into his water. She ducked and I spent an hour with a landing net trying to scoop the reel from the bottom of the river. The worst part was that this happened in the first 30 minutes of the float and I had to spend the rest of the day with them….

  5. Get The Net!!

    – Have one, please for your own sanity. If I forget something, it is always the net. Then make sure that your net has a long enough handle, FLOATS and has cotton or rubber basket to keep the fishies you release healthy. More fish are lost because of not having a net in the boat than because a neophyte angler brought a banana. The guy running the net having the basket of the net in the water before the fisherman guides the fish towards it is key. This helps from scaring the fish, unlike when the netter takes a stab at the fish with the net like it is a rapier.

  6. Only Ken! No Barbie!

    – De-barb your hooks unless you are fishing with Joan Wulff or absolutely trust the people you are fishing with. It never fails that someone won’t or forgets to smash the barb on their flies. Within moments of casting this lethal weapon, the fly will be buried in someone’s flesh in the boat. It never fails.

  7. It’s A Shoe In

    – Where some form of foot covering in the boat. There are sharp edges, hooks, knives etc. loitering in wait for a toe to come to close. Injuries to bare feet end more fishing trips than hooks embedded in flesh. Important reminder: If you wear something like Simms Streamtread Sandals like I do, remember to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet.

  8. Less IS More

    – Everyone loves bells and whistles, fly fishermen particularly. They like to have them built directly on the boat or bring them with them when they hit the water. The perfect fly fishing craft has little to nothing inside of it or has a place to stow it. My pet peeve is cup holders. Beverage holding devices were designed by the devil. They snag your brand new Rio Gold fly line as it is zipping out of your guides toward a rising fish that you are

    A guide refueling his boat while his fly fishermen for the day relive their experiences

    going to only have one chance at as you float by. Gear bags are another thing that gets tripped over or snare fly lines. This usually occurs as a fish is taking a big run and the angler trips and bashes his head on a gunnel or a pile of stripped in line snags the bag as it is zipping through the guides. If every boat had a utilitarian design for fly fishermen like a flats boat the world of fishing would be a better place.

  9. The Most Frustrating Place In The World…The Boat Ramp

    – There is just too much to say about them for this short space. Just be considerate of others and it all works out. If you really want a lesson in boat ramps, you can CLICK HERE for more on this subject.

Follow Sean Johnson:

Sean was raised in Northeastern Oregon in the Wallowa Valley. It was there that he learned to hunt and fly fish. After receiving his history degree from the University of Oregon, Sean guided fly fishermen from Alaska to Chile. There were a few interludes where he sailed as a crew member on a ship and even worked in the craft brewing industry. Eventually he found his love in writing about the outdoors. His articles and fiction stories have a unique style and voice that conveys his love for the natural world. Currently he is the main writer for Always A Good Day, freelances and is working on a book of fiction.