The most important rule of fly fishing
The most important rule of fly fishing…….make it home. Period.
I learned this hard lesson several years ago. We all want to go for and catch that special fish. I get it. But no fish is worth your life. While fly fishing we can find ourselves in some precarious situations. Mine was on the St. Joe River. The flows were high that year. The river wasn’t quite in shape yet. But I hadn’t been there in what seemed like a life time.
Long story short, I waded too deep, the flows were too strong, and I was too macho for my own good. A push of water swept my feed from under me. My waders filled with water even with my belt tight and I was bobbing down river. Thankfully, the river pushed me right into a huge bolder where I got wedged between the legs that actually stood me up. I was able to gather myself and get out of a bad situation. Life didn’t exactly flash before my eyes…but I did need to change my shorts.
It was more the stupidity of pushing myself when I had two daughters, 2 and 4 at the time, at home looking forward to dad showing up. There are over 2,000 people that don’t make it home every year. Don’t be one of them. No fish is worth your life. Here are a few tips to help you keep safe on the water.
If you get nervous or you think you are pushing yourself out too far, you are. You have probably gone past the point where you should have. Make sure you have polarized glasses. If you can’t see the stream in front of you, you’re in trouble. Have good boots. Make sure the boots you are wearing match the stream bead you are fishing. Spikes do no good on Freestone Rivers. Conversely, felt soles won’t help you in the mud.
My golden rule, carry a wading stick. I don’t care what anyone says. I’m 6’4” and 255lbs. I carry a wading stick. Muddy….you can judge the bottom depth. Gin clear….it’s always deeper than what you think. A wading stick is a great judge of water depth before you commit to going in.
If you are in some heavy flows, always position your wading stick downstream. Use it as a third leg. Move your weight upstream and push on the staff downstream. Here’s the most important thing when you find yourself in a bad situation……
You went too deep and the flows are too strong. I’ve been there. Here’s what you do. Firstly, stick your rod in your belt, back of you shorts or whatever so you don’t have to mess with it. I don’t care what you paid for your rod, it’s not worth your life. Get it out of the way. In a belt, back of you waders, or whatever, it will be fine.
Firmly place your wading rod right below you, downstream. Grab the staff with two hands. Keep your feed at shoulder length and slowly swivel yourself so you are point upstream at about a 30 degree angle. You DO NOT want to make large steps and open yourself up. Keep your profile in the water as small and compact as possible. Inch your way to the shore.
I hope this helps. The number one rule in any kind of fishing in my book is to make it home. Tight lines my fishy friends……and be safe.