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8 Tips to Stay Safe While Fly Fishing

June 20, 2023

Central Washington is home to many types of bodies of water. Various Alpine lakes and rivers such as the Columbia and Yakima River are home to many types of fish and host many fishermen from spring through fall. Fly Fishing is among the most common. While there are many fun and rewarding times there can also be some dangerous ones as well if you are ill-prepared. Interested in fishing in Central Washington? Click here for more information.


Weather in Central Washington can change at a moment’s notice, not to mention hour to hour or day to day. Be sure to know if there are storm or flood warnings. It is also important to know the water temperatures, know the air temperatures, and know if you are below the dam and there is potential for a water release.

With rain in the forecast, or being downstream of a Dam, it is essential that you can quickly ascend and get out of danger. Make sure you know your way out and to a safe exit plan should the weather or tides turn.

If water temperatures are cold, which is often the case with trout fishing, there is added danger. Colder water can cause hypothermia quicker, and can make it even more difficult to exit the water in case of an emergency.

Icy conditions also increase the odds of slipping, getting trapped under ice, or having ice chunks floating down a river that can take you out. All of this needs to be in an angler’s mind.

You should also be aware of flash flood possibilities from rainstorms out of sight, but upstream.


A wading belt can prevent water from rushing into your waders should you fall in. This will enable anglers to escape the situation they are in easier. Without a wading belt, water can far easily rush into the waders, potentially making it more difficult to exit the water or get out of a situation. Wading belts should be solid, but it should be easy to release in case it gets caught on anything while floating down stream.

A wading staff, or walking stick can keep you more stable when wading through the water. Realistically, everyone should be utilizing one, but even more so for individuals that need stability walking, or don’t have the ability to easily save themselves in a fall. A staff can prevent a fall or a slip which could save your life or prevent an injury.

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Minimize your surface area being exposed to the current, this increases the drag and force on your body. Always wade laterally. Make a constant effort to be at some angle to the water to reduce drag and increase your stability. This will give you more control and help prevent getting swept away in a current.


Water can be unpredictable. Whether you’re caught between currents or weather storms it’s best to be prepared. You never know when you may be swept up in the current and what lies beneath the surface in your path. Come prepared and definitely wear your life jacket. Not only do you need to wear one but you need to make sure it is fitted properly. Visit one of many outdoor and angler shops in Central Washington.


We know that wading enables you to get in positions to get more fish. You still should never navigate into a position that puts you in danger. When currents are strong, or water is deep, avoid it when you can. Always make sure that you have someone with you and are following local guidelines. Check with our local angler’s stores such as Red’s___ for up-to-date fishing and weather reports. Their staff and guides are able to show and educate you on the current conditions and offer recommendations for the most successful trip.


When time is taken to be educated on water safety skills, it does not only help to prevent drowning, but also makes way for safe fly fishing. Before getting into the water, ensure everyone in the team is prepared for any unforeseen eventualities. Check also that everyone is a confident swimmer.

If you are venturing into a river or lake without confident swimming abilities, or training to help save others, the odds of an incident go up substantially.

A life jacket may feel cumbersome, especially to skilled and experienced anglers, but wearing it may be the difference between life and death in the event of a slip-in-the-water situation. While many anglers will not invest in a wading life jacket, it may be advised for anyone with a physical disability, or lack of training in the water.

If you do ever end up in the water follow the following guidelines if you become swept up in the current.

  • Lift your feet if you are floating down stream. Don’t stand straight up and down. You never know what rock and debris lies below the surface, feet down can give you greater risk of getting caught or injuring yourself .
  • Be aware of where the current leads. In some cases, floating down the river and using the current could be to your advantage. It may not be the most efficient to swim directly to the shore. You may notice a pool down below that the water slows, in which your objective should be to safely get to that area and exit from there. Fighting the current will cost you energy, and usually proves ineffective.
  • Scan the water below you to know what may cause dangers. Look for rocks, waterfalls, downed trees, or anything that could get you caught or injured.
  • Don’t worry about your gear. Safely exiting is your main priority.
  • Swim towards your destination (which likely may be a ways down stream). Don’t fight the current, but still make strides to reach your safe zone, or area to exit the river.
  • Don’t panic, be patient, be smart, and work your way to the safest possible area.


Always use barbless hooks or pinch any barbed hooks. This is to make it easier and less painful to remove if it gets caught in your body after casting or while trying to remove the fish you’ve caught.


Most fly fishing areas and fly fishers practice catch-and-release fishing. Because of this, you must know how to handle fish properly without harming them.

Before handling fish, make sure your hands are wet and that the fish won’t come in contact with dry clothing. Use a knotless or rubber net when landing fish and remove the fish quickly from the hook while it’s in water. When you’re lifting the fish out of the water, always hold it in a manner in which it can support its weight. Don’t grip too hard if you’re holding them by the tail. To release the fish, revive it by holding its head upstream until it begins moving.

Fishing in Central Washington is plentiful and waiting to be discovered on your next getaway. Our location in Central Washington is near many water bodies – many of which are accessible for anglers of many types – whether they prefer shore fishing, fly fishing, or boat fishing! Click here to plan your next adventure!

As always, recreate responsibly. Take the Plan to Play Pact with us today!

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