Fishing Ethics: Float Fishing – Flylords Mag

Welcome back to the second installment of the Fishing Ethics Series brought to you by Fat tire… This time we are focusing on swim fishing.

As more people continue to enter the world of fly fishing, more boats are hitting the river, tensions between anglers are rising and the pressure on natural resources is increasing. With these growing trends, it has never been more important to educate and inspire anglers to act responsibly towards the water. So grab a fat tire and check out the 17 tips you need to know when fly fishing.

Truck and boat parked at boat ramp

Do not ride the ramp

Instead of rushing straight to the boat ramp, take your time to prepare your gear in the staging area. The area directly in front of the boat ramp is valuable real estate and you should not go there until you are completely ready. If your vehicle is at the boat ramp, you must either launch or tow the boat. All other parts of the process must occur in the side placement area. Actions like inflating the dinghy, rigging the rods, adjusting the cooler, attaching the anchor, etc. can all be done before moving the boat into the diversion area (or even done at home before hitting the road).

Truck supporting a boat

Practice backing up a trailer before going on the ramp

It’s always a good idea to be sure with support on a trailer before you get to a boat ramp. Under the pressure of a crowded boat ramp, you (and everyone else at the ramp) will be thankful you took the time to practice ahead of time. Take a day off during the week while the boat ramp is empty and practice. This practice will go a long way!

If you are struggling with launching the boat, please ask for help. Other anglers would rather help out and lead the way than watch you go back and forth a hundred times.

boat in the stage area

Be quick

When you’re ready to launch the boat, make it fast. The boat ramps aren’t always crowded, but when they are, there will be a line of people waiting for your seat. Have a plan to get in and out quickly.

One way to speed up the process is to have a friend with you. With two people, one person can stay with the boat and the other can steer. This speeds up the process drastically.

The person who prepares a boat

Take up as little space as possible

Some boat ramps are wide enough to allow many boats to launch at the same time. If this is the case, make sure you leave enough space for other boats to enter the ramp at the same time. This is where the drill will come in handy… Having your boat next to the dock instead of launching in the middle of the ramp will make it easier to get the boat off the trailer and onto the dock. Once the boat is in the water, move it to the side so that other people can continue to enter the ramp while you are parking the car. Most importantly, once the boat is underway, don’t be the person taking up two parking spaces.

Fisherman fishing from boat with another boat nearby

Give people space

Give other boats extra space during technical sections of the river. Depending on the river, only one boat at a time can fit when traveling on the best line. When approaching other boats, judge the speed at which the other boats are moving and make sure you do not cut them off. If there is a boat docked, keep your space!

two people in a boat

The lower boat has the right of way

Regarding giving people space, boats in front of you have the right of way. If you are approaching the boat in front of you, or intending to make a pass, make sure you do so during a time when there are no technical areas and the river is wide enough that the other boat is not touching. Also, a little communication can go a long way when passing other boats. As when passing someone on a bicycle, it is common to warn the other boat.

Person vade fishing

Respect the Waders

Give the wild fishermen as much space as you can! They have the right of way. Similarly if a boat was docked in a certain area, you would want to keep your space from that boat.

If you think about it, when you’re river cruising, you have an inordinate amount of flexibility to fish different areas of a river compared to anglers who are limited to walking their spots. If you have the privilege of being on a boat, give the wild fishermen space and find the next best place. And yes, this even applies if the person is fishing your ABSOLUTE FAVORITE HOLE. Maybe it’s even their favorite.

Boats and people

Respect other people using the river

Believe it or not, the river is not only used by people looking to catch fish. You can share the waters with people who are tubing, kayaking, rafting or doing a variety of other activities. Although we all do different activities, we all depend on the river as a common resource. Make sure you treat people with respect and understand that we are all there to share a common resource.

Private water mark

Do not anchor in private water

This is a tip that can get a little confusing. Knowing private land is one thing, but understanding private water can be a little tricky. Depending on the state you are in, the laws may be slightly different.

For example, in Colorado, the law says that landowners not only own the dry land on the side of the river, but also the bottom of the river. In this unique situation, boats can legally float, but they are not allowed to dock in these areas. While this is true in Colorado, the law varies from state to state. Before swimming a section of river, be sure to do your research and find out what is allowed in that particular area.

Attaching an anchor to a boat

Don’t anchor your boat in a bad position

In some situations, if you anchor in the middle of the river, there is not enough river on either side for other boats to pass. When choosing your anchor, make sure you take the time to find a spot that allows other boats to pass easily.

Two people drinking Fat Tire beers on a boat

Do not play loud music

Whether you’re hiking along a trail or swimming down a river, it’s always best NOT to play loud music. You should have a good time on the river, but don’t let your “good time” negatively affect someone else’s experience.

Fat Tire beer and a fly rod

Drink responsibly

There aren’t many things as wonderful as floating down a river and smoking a fat tire. With that said, we cannot overstate the importance of drinking responsibly. Whether you’re at the oars, steering the boat, or even the person taking the lines off the front of the boat, everyone needs to know their limits and drink responsibly.

Trout and net

Heat treatment

Before sailing a section of river, it is always important to check the river conditions. Especially the WATER TEMPERATURE during the summer months. When it comes to trout, water above approximately 67°F is unhealthy for fishing because the fish are likely to die. During the heat of the summer, some stretches of river will have restrictions (ie, bass restrictions) on the time of day you’re allowed to fish, or restrictions on fishing at all.

For more information on this topic, see this article.

Parking lot for boat ramps

There is no where you are taking out

Missing a boat ramp is never a fun thing and can even be dangerous in certain situations. Taking the time to determine your plan of action before hitting the river is very important. Safety aside, it’s always good to know your distance and cadence for a given swim. If you’re looking for a handy tool when planning a successful sailing trip, check out the OnWater app.

Pack what you pack.

Wherever you are, it’s always important to pack what you pack. It means that everything you brought with you must be left with you at the end of the day. Creating a container on the board is a great way to make sure you are achieving this goal. It’s also a great way to help keep your boat clean and organized.

The person asking for a Fat Tire beer

Be respectful

As with almost all of our etiquette items, the number one rule is to be respectful. If you treat others the way you want to be treated on the water, then we’ll all be better off.

two people with a trout


After all, a day of sailing on a river is one of the best things life has to offer. Be sure to take a deep breath, maybe a sip of Fat Tire, and enjoy your time on the river.

That’s all for swim fishing ethics! Stay tuned for the next installment of the Fishing Tag Series brought to you by Fat Tire. Next time we’ll hit the river for some tips on boat fishing etiquette.

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