Fly Fishing with a Dog

Over the past 3 years of fishing, I have seen my fair share of dogs on the water with their owners. I’ve seen the posts on Instagram with the dog watching their owner, perfectly behaved. For all I know, if you’re in Colorado’s Front Range you may have even seen me with my Goldendoodle, or most recently with my Goldendoodle and GSP. If you’re looking to get your dog on the water, here’s a couple tips and recommendations to make fishing with your 4 legged friend more enjoyable.

Use a Leash to Start

If your pup doesn’t listen to recall, or you are on a busy beat, keep them on leash. This was the hard part for me. You want your dog running around in nature, but if they run away both you and your pup will be sad and lonely. Ruffwear has some great options for leashes, collars, and a tether. You can clip your leash to a tree, around your waist (careful your dog doesn’t pull you in) or to the hitch of your car while you are getting ready. There are going to be times when you just can’t take them pulling any more, so having a leash to tether them off is key.

Your puppy will pull, which is just what you need when hiking on the sometimes icy trail into Cheesman Canyon… Plus if you have a dog like my GSP, she will pull and pull even when choking herself. Fishing is supposed to be fun, not painful or frustrating for anyone involved. The Ruffwear Front Range Harness when clipped in the front will limit pulling, as they don’t like to have their bodies turned.

Bring Treats

If you get hungry, they’re probably hungry too. You may also want to reward them for when they actually listen. I also sometimes bring a bone or something for them to chew on. Just like a human child they will get tired and bored, especially if you aren’t bringing in the fishies, so having something to entertain them is ideal. 

Safety First

If you are one of the fortunate people who own a fly fishing raft, I would highly recommend a pair of booties. The last thing you want is for your $$$ boat to be popped by claws. Ruffwear also happens to make a pair of these. Don’t forget the life jacket! We learned our lesson when Nati (the goldendoodle) got scared this past summer from a water bottle dropping on our metal casting deck and jumped out of the boat. I had to get her to swim back to the boat so I could hold on to her until we reached a shallow enough spot to get out and lift her back in. Had she had her life jacket on I could have simply pulled her up by the handle. #lessonlearned

I am a huge proponent of safety. Some may say I over pack even for a trip to Deckers (I do). I have my own dog emergency kit. Many of the items also work for humans. Along with the safety kit I also bring a packable water bowl. Sometimes the water isn’t clean or your dog might be picky. Make sure they stay hydrated. 

For the long haul back to wherever you came from, don’t forget a towel and some sort of seat cover. It’s also inevitable that your car or truck will smell. 

Have Patience

Namaste, that’s a word you need to tell yourself often especially when going out with a new puppy. They are going to try to bite the indicator, knock over your rod, or worse; get a fly stuck in their fur. So to start, make sure you set realistic expectations. Your dog will not be the one watching you, you will be the one watching it. 

Remember that it takes time, lots of obedience training, and patience to have the perfect fishing partner. You can get there and before long you’ll be that guy or gal that everyone sees when on the water with the perfect fishing dog!

About the Author

Libby Schultz @Elizac45

Originally from Iowa, I now call Colorado my home. My fishing partners include a 5 month old German Shorthair Pointer named River, a 3 year old Goldendoodle named Nati and my fiance Greg. I am in my 3rd year of fly fishing and while I have had the opportunity to fish for many different species my favorite is still trout.  Fly fishing has truly helped me find my place and community in the hectic city of Denver.

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