Years ago there seemed to be an unwritten code of conduct that went along with outdoor sports like fly fishing. While there's always been those that were difficult, most simply understood that out on the river you don't get too close to fellow anglers, don't jump in and fish in front of someone, and try to be, at least outwardly, very courteous upon meeting. Today, most of us have stories about discourteous encounters on the water; I know that I do. Although fly fishermen are far better than most others at sticking to etiquette, it doesn't hurt to have a few reminders.
1. Always allow plenty of space. This amount of space will vary according to location. Some busy tailwaters may only require 50 to 100 yards and on some uncrowded streams you may want to allow 1/2 a mile or more. Be mindful to leave plenty of space on small streams where the other angler will have to cover more length of water to find the same number of fish they might find in a short length of a big river. If you're in a boat, simply keep your distance.
2. Don't hog holes. If you find a great pool or run it's certainly OK to fish it hard but if others seem like they'd like to try it then move on. It can be frustrating when drifting a river to encounter someone who continually rows back up river to fish the same spot over and over forcing you to drift by them and not be able to fish the spot at all.
3. Allow the angler fishing upstream the right of way. This is an old notion, but one that we should all stick to. If you're moving downstream as you fish and encounter someone, allow the angler working up to stay on the water and leap frog around him. This way once you've passed each other you'll create distance faster as you fish away from each other.
4. Be very respectful of the river and it's surroundings. Clean up, take care of your business in the right place, practice catch and release, and make as little negative impact on the resource as possible.
5. If you fish in a state that allows access on private property then do everything possible to protect fences, livestock, and property. Be respectful of high water marks and landowner wishes. Once again, take care of your business in the right place, not on someones property. It's better to develop good relationships with landowners even when the law allows you to fish through.
Like it or not, we're all representing all fly anglers in our conduct on the water. Let's be cool to each other.