How To Fly Fish In A Crowded Boat (And Not Get Hooked In The Face)

Fly fishing in a boat is the best thing in the world. Fishing with your buddies? Couldn’t get better than that. Fishing with all your buddies in one boat? Alright, that can get a little crowded–quick. Still though, it’s either you go rub elbows with your friends and catch a few fish, or you don’t go. There’s not really a choice there.

Instead of spending the whole day worrying about hooks flying everywhere and giving you a new piercing, there are a few tricks that will help you make it out unscathed (at least mostly).

Two Anglers Stand By To Back In A Crowded Boat
Sometimes the best technique is to go back to back and cast when the other guy isn’t casting.

Go Back To Back

Not only does going back to back help your balance, putting most of the weight in the boat right at the center (also the lowest point in the boat) it’ll also help to make sure you have the most amount of room, at least in front of you. Remember to wear your life jackets, things could get gnarly if one of you catches a fish and lunges to grab it. Your balance depends on the other angler’s and vice versa.

Make sure to also make your casts back to back, so only one angler is casting at the same time. The only problem you’ll run into is if you’re using complicated nymphing or indicator rigs, as casting can get tricky, or if one of you has a different dominant hand than the other. My brother and I fly fish in the same boat all the time and he’s a lefty (I’m normal) so going back to back just makes things worse. Usually we just fight like gladiators and the winner gets casting preference. But, I’m the older one, so…

Two fly anglers take a shoreline break in Alaska.
Fishing in a crowded boat gets old really fast, don’t be afraid to get out and stretch your legs (and sneak a few casts in at the same time).

When In Doubt, Get Out

There’s no rule that says you have to stay in the boat all day (unless there are bears everywhere, then ok). When you see a cozy looking sandbar or a nearby bank big enough to park the boat for a few minutes and stretch your legs, then do it. Now’s the time to use that tree over there as well–you know why.

When everyone else is practicing their wader yoga and regaining feeling in their legs, make sure to peel off and get a few casts out there. Without your buddies right behind you every cast will feel like the first one again, totally free. Plus, getting out and having your buddies hanging around the boat while you catch fish means you can get a better photo than the last 20 that look exactly the same.

One angler shows off his fish while another looks on in jealousy.
Every photo is going to have a few photobombs in it when you’re in a boat full of anglers. Just look at the jealousy back there. You can almost taste the contempt.

Beware The Photobomb

There’s no tip here, photobombs will happen. There’s no escaping them in a boat with all your friends. Either they’ll ham it up and make sure to make every photo way better (or way worse) or they’ll silently brood in their jealousy behind you.

Either way, remember that it’s not about the fish you catch or the fact that every other cast was totally ruined when you tangled up with a friend. Getting out there is all about having fun, so don’t take yourself too serious. Luckily, your friends probably won’t let you.

Getting on the water as much as possible, even if that means fishing in a boat full of dudes? Subscribe to Postfly now to make sure your fly boxes stay as packed as the boat.


One thought on “How To Fly Fish In A Crowded Boat (And Not Get Hooked In The Face)

  1. Tyler Meredith December 21, 2016 / 12:53 am

    I like what this article mentions about getting out of the boat if the conditions permit. It makes sense that this could be helpful because you’d be able to maintain your distance and keep the group safe. It’s something to remember if the boat stops at all to make sure nobody is at risk to get a hook stuck in them.

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