10 River Fly Fishing Tips

Whether you are fly fishing in a fast river in Maine or a slower river in New Mexico, you can use these 10 river fly fishing tips to get started. Fly fishing has always been popular, and it continues to grow, particularly in the western United States. People fly fish in all types of bodies of water and for all types of fish, but bass and trout are the most popular. Rivers present some unique challenges as do all types of bodies of water, so with that in mind, we offer our tips for a successful fly fishing trip.

  1. Use the type of materials fish eat to make your ties. It may seem obvious, but it is important to make sure your flies are made of the right stuff. What fish like to eat can change from river to river in a relatively small area or even in different locations in the same river.
  2. Use a rod that fits you. You may be holding it a long time, so you need something that is comfortable. If you are short, for instance, do not get a real long pole, and the opposite is also true. Get a rod that is comfortable and easy for you to use and control.  
  3. Keep tension in the line by using the rod. Any slack at all can give a fish an opportunity to get off the hook.
  4. Keep your rod at a 90-degree angle to help keep the tension in the line. It is very hard to keep that tension steady if the pole is flat.
  5. Use a big enough net. Fish are able to flip out of small nets, and some are able to break small nets.
  6. If you are practicing catch and release, be careful with the fish. Avoid touching the fish with your hands in any way as this will hurt the fish and could kill it. Put the fish back in the water as soon as possible.  Put the fish back into the current and let it swim off. If it does not, move the fish forward and that will help the fish revive itself.
  7. During slow periods, when fish are not biting, try a bigger and brighter fly. Be patent and persistent. The fish may not be feeding now, but may be soon.  Go slower and deeper into the river.
  8. Rivers can get murky at times. When the water is not clear, the fish do not see the flies as well. Use bigger and brighter flies when the water is not clear.
  9. When the water is not clear, you may have to move around more to find the fish. Try different places if the action is too slow, and go for deeper water.
  10. Use the current to your benefit. Cast ahead, or upriver, and let your lure flow past you and as far down as you can before reeling it back in. Repeat this process, but vary the distance each time, and keep trying new areas.
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