Fly Fishing Rants

Whether you're chatting in a fly shop, online, or just talking to your buddies, these topics seem to come up all the time and cause strife among us.  Some can be fairly cut and dry where others are a full on split down the middle.  Lets talk about a few of these topics.


One of the most debated topics is... "How to hold a fish".

1.  If you don't need to hold it then don't.  Remove the hook, release it back in the water and let it go back to doing what it was doing.

2.  If you do want to hold it, whether to just enjoy it's beauty, take a picture, etc, first off wet your hands.  This has been proven many times over that the protective slime on a fish can be taken off from dry hands, gloves, towels (gasp!), etc.  So wet your hands first so you don't remove the slime. 

3.  When you do pick it up, refrain from hanging it from the hook, or grabbing it from the jaw.  This puts unnecessary pressure on the fish.  If you do grab a fish by the jaw (bass are typically held like this), keep the fish vertical rather than putting pressure on the jaw by holding it horizontal. Also, when holding a fish, don't grab too hard.  If it flops back in the water, and you were planning on releasing, no big deal.  Refrain from putting pressure on the internal organs towards the front 1/3 of the fish as this can cause harm and even death in a fish.  Last but not least, keep it out of the water for as little of time as possible.  The #keepemwet movement has been great, which promotes to keep the fish in the water at all times.  It amazes me how many people use this hashtag but yet have their picture of a fish completely out of the water.... KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE GILLS!


Catch and release

I may rub a few people the wrong way here but here goes anyway.  For most people out there in the fly fishing community, catch and release is practiced nearly every time they catch a fish.  Most of my personal fish I catch every year are released but there are times when a fish can, and even should, be harvested.

1.  Stocked fish.  Even writing this irritates me.  I live in a place where there are not many wild trout streams, so all my local places are stocked.  The streams run warm in the summer and can't sustain a trout.  So if you're within the regulations then by all means keep a few fish.  I said A FEW!  That's where I draw the line.  Most of my local places are literally fished out a few weeks after a stocking.  People fill their freezers, probably don't eat half of them anyway and they go to waste.  My advice, if you are going to eat them in the next 48 hours, then take home up to as many as you're allowed.  If not, then put them back.  They don't taste that great anyway.

2. Wild fish.  Hear me out.  If a population of wild fish is flourishing then harvest can actually be a good thing.  This helps weed out the numbers to help produce larger and healthier fish in the long run.  Now this should be done rarely, but it can have it's benefits.  If you enjoy trout, this is the better tasting fish out there.  There's many other fish to harvest out there that can handle it too.  Panfish for instance are a great fish to catch on the fly, are plentiful, and are great table fare.


Spot Burning

Yeah, I'm touching on all the good ones.  There's some real truth to keeping your good spots hush hush, but also if no one knows about it, then how does it get protected?  In Pennsylvania, we have had a ton of new streams added to our "streams with natural reproduction" list in the past few years.  You want to know why?  Because there is shale drilling all over the state, and when something goes wrong these streams get much more protection than ones not on the list.  So many individuals and the state have made a huge move to get everything listed they can.  Yes, a ton of new people know about these streams now, but is that such a bad thing?  In this instance, I think not. 

Now in many other situations, yes spot burning can be a bad thing.  2-3 cars turns into 20 cars in the lot.  A stream where you see a few people a day is now jam packed.  The fish get put down, the lack of respect for the resource goes up and a good spot gets ruined.  We have all seen it.  Now on the other hand there are a few ways to share information "better".  If someone asks you about a stream, show it to them.  Take them out, teach them how to preserve it and ask them to respect it the same way.  What good is a good spot if no one ever fishes it?  I recently asked an online board some information about a spot I was travelling to in a few months.  I stated, I will only fish here once, and was met with the typical "go look it up yourself" answers.  What harm would a simple private message of "check this stream out.  Go park here and fish up for a mile"?  That shouldn't be so hard, especially if you know the person and how they would respect the resource.  But in today's day and age, everyone is so tight lipped that harmless sharing is simply that, harmless.


What other rants do you hear all the time?  Share in the comments.


Last rant.  It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open ones mouth and remove all doubt.  If you decide to say or type something in any place, please check your spelling and grammar.  That is all.


Ramblings by:

Ryan Gouldsbarry

Owner of Risen Fly


P.S.    Don't forget, if you sign up for our emails you get 15% off your next order!  Don't forget about our Deposit Program (LW reels are looking GOOD) and clearance sections (50% off!)


  • Rob

    Get your fly rod bent pick up after yourself, handle fish to be released with care . I prefer to practice social distancing even before the coronavirus. FOAD – Fish on all day !

  • John Pastorek

    My rant is about litter along streams! Parking slots get the most litter, but downright garbage is what plagues fire rings along streams. Some think it okay to leave charred beer cans, foil, melted plastic, etc. in fire rings, as if the trash is collected Monday mornings. Others apparently think nothing of leaving piles of used toilet paper, clothes lines strung across trees and even old clothes laying nearby. Who is brought up that way???

  • Mike

    I tend to find that if I want to keep a stocked fish withing the legal limits I will do it on conventional tackle. Something about the art of fly fishing that I just dont feel the need to keep what I catch.

  • Dennis Keefer

    Very Nice Rant! Although, personally, I don’t agree with you on everything! Thanks for sharing your opinions. Good fishing!

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