Urban Fly: 6 tips for fly fishing in the city

30th of June 2022

Fly fishing in the city can be very rewarding. It's nice to be in the hustle and bustle, there are many new spots to explore and often lots of different species to catch. It does however require some preparation. For the techniques to use, for how you're fishing in general and for the gear that you're using. These are our tips for urban fly fishing.

1: Safety first

This should be a no-brainer, but you'll notice that when you're fishing for a while you'll slowly start to forget about safety because you're so focussed on the fishing. Here are the things that you should think about regarding safety:

Look backwards on every back cast

Yes, on every cast. A cyclist or pedestrian can come into your casting space very quickly. Even if you think that the road is empty, somebody might be leaving their front door and step onto the street. Always look backwards before you back cast.

Don't fish when you're in doubt

If you think it's going to be too unsafe, you should listen to your instinct and move somewhere else.

Observe before fishing

If you see a good spot it might be tempting to directly start fishing. Instead, try to stand in your spot for a few minutes and look around to observe how and where everyone around you is moving. This gives you an idea of the location and if it's doable to fish.

Some basic safety tips

Lastly, here other tips:

  • Ideally there's no road or cycling path behind you
  • No places to sit (like a bench) or playground behind you
  • No expensive things you can damage around you: cars, windows, mopeds, etc

2: Keep your gear to a minimum

You'll be on the move a lot, so don't go all out on taking gear. One rod, a small backpack or vest with your pliers, clipper and flies and a landing net are sufficient. Depending on how comfortable your are fishing without a stripping basket you can leave that out, but we prefer to bring it. You can easily clip the belt of the stripping basket to your backpack, belt or pants when walking or biking between spots.

3: Find the right spot

Research using Google Maps

There's nothing better than some aerial research. Put Google Maps in satellite view and slowly move around the map looking for water to discover new spots. It will also help you figure out which spots are accessible and what the best route is to get there.

Always have your fish brain turned on

You know that feeling when you drive past water you've never seen before and you think "This would be nice spot to fish"? It's a great habit to connect that thought to an action: pin that location. In Google Maps you can create lists ands save places to these lists (instructions here). Make a list 'Spots to check' and save the locations that you think might be interesting. Then it's on to the next point: recon.

Do a recon round before you go

If you have the opportunity, go on a walk or take your bike before you go fishing to check out spots. You'll be much quicker to move around and you won't be tempted to settle for the first best spot. This way you can map out where the good spots are, as well as observe the surroundings before you start fishing. Then when you go fishing: make sure you check where the wind is coming from and use it to your advantage when (roll) casting.

4: Be mobile

City fishing is moving around a lot. This because the water you can fish will be limited as there's not a long river bank to cover in one setting. Even more so with fly fishing because you might not be able to cast as well as you thought on specific spots. By foot or by bike works best!

5: Practice your roll cast

The roll cast really is your friend when fly fishing in the city. It will allow you to minimize the space you need behind you, decreasing the risk of getting stuck or worse: damaging something.

6: Be kind, be respectful, be an ambassador

Cities are designed for lots of people, not specifically for fly fishing. So be kind! If someone asks you to move: find another spot. If people have questions, take some time to answer them. Many will see a fly rod for the first time and will be curious about what you're doing. Make sure to show your fly box, as it's guaranteed for lots of 'ooohs' and 'aaaahs' 😃.

Tight lines!

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