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Adventure Inspiration

A Perfect Partnership: Fly Fishing with Sammy

Fly fishing is an art that combines patience, skill, and a deep appreciation for nature. It's a serene experience that allows anglers to connect with the outdoors while pursuing their passion. And what could make this pursuit even more enjoyable and rewarding?

The answer is simple: a loyal and enthusiastic companion like my 3 year old Golden, Sammy.

In this blog, I’ll explore the joys and benefits of fly fishing with my awesome dog by my side, highlighting our first experiences together fishing and some key takeaways.

Dog and fisherman walking near lake

I fish a lot. So when my husband and I got Sammy 3 years ago, I knew she was going to grow into being a fishing dog. There was a lot of learning on both sides, but 3 years later, we still love to fish together.

On our first fishing outing together, I learned so much about Sammy. One thing that stood out was her incredible curiosity. As soon as we arrived at the river, she was immediately drawn to the water (she is a Golden, after all), sniffing at the ripples and splashing around in the water. Sometimes her curiosity would get the best of her and she would wander off to a smell of animal poop or something dead, but for the most part she has adapted well to knowing that when we are fishing, she needs to stay close by.

close up picture of a golden retriever dog

But, what excited me the most was seeing how much joy my dog got from just being outside in nature. If she wasn't chewing on a stick that she pulled out of the water, she was watching intently as I cast my fly, and the moment it landed on the water, she would wag her tail and seem almost as eager as I was to see what I would catch.

The biggest surprise came when catching fish! Sammy always seems genuinely excited and proud to see fish. She stops what she is doing and makes her way over to me to see what I caught.

It was a truly unforgettable moment, and it made me realize how much our shared experiences and adventures could strengthen our bond.

Fisherwoman holding a fish and showing it to her dog

When fly fishing with dogs, there are several important lessons I’ve learned along the way, here are a few of those:

  1. Safety First: One of the most crucial lessons when fly fishing with dogs is to prioritize safety. Always ensure that your dog is wearing a well-fitted life jacket when near or in the water, especially if they are not strong swimmers. Keep a close eye on your dog to prevent them from venturing into dangerous situations.

  2. Training and Recall: Training your dog to have a reliable recall is essential when fly fishing. You need to be confident that your dog will come back to you when called, even in the midst of distractions. Spend time training your dog to respond to commands and reinforce their recall skills regularly. This will ensure that you have control over their actions and can keep them safe during your fishing trips.
  1. Respect Other Anglers: Remember that not everyone may be comfortable with dogs around them while they are fishing. Be considerate and respectful of other anglers' space and preferences. Keep your dog close to you and under control to avoid interfering with other people's fishing experiences. Always clean up after your dog and maintain good etiquette to foster a positive environment for all.
  1. Be Mindful of Wildlife: While your dog may have a natural inclination to explore and chase wildlife, it's important to respect the local ecosystem. Avoid allowing your dog to disturb or harass wildlife, which can disrupt their habitats and stress the animals. Keep your dog leashed when necessary, particularly in sensitive areas or during nesting seasons, to minimize their impact on wildlife.
  1. Preparation and Gear: Before heading out on a fly fishing trip with your dog, ensure you have the right gear and supplies. This includes a comfortable and secure harness and leash, a dog-friendly life jacket, collapsible water bowl, plenty of water, and snacks or treats to keep your dog energized. Additionally, bring a pet first-aid kit and any necessary medications your dog may require.
  1. Patience and Flexibility: Dogs can bring unpredictability to any outdoor adventure, and fly fishing is no exception. Be patient and adaptable, as your dog may have different needs and preferences. Allow breaks for your dog to rest, hydrate, and explore. Embrace the spontaneity and enjoy the journey, even if it means altering your fishing plans to accommodate your dog's well-being. Remember, each dog is unique, so pay attention to your dog's behavior and needs during your fly fishing outings.

dog wearing a life jacket on a boat

That first fishing outing together completely changed my perspective on what adventures could look like with my dog. It opened my eyes to the incredible possibilities of exploring the outdoors together and deepening our connection through shared experiences.

From that day forward, I saw our adventures as opportunities to create lasting memories and strengthen our bond. Whether it's fishing, hiking, or simply exploring new places, I now view every adventure with Sammy as a chance to deepen our connection and cherish the moments we spend together in the great outdoors.

So, the next time you grab your fly rod, consider bringing your furry friend along and embark on an unforgettable fishing journey together.

Ruffwear Ambassador Chris Hill is an environmental lobbyist and the Campaign Director for the Sierra Club. She is passionate about social justice and the outdoors. A lifelong, avid adventurer, Chris lives in Alaska with her fun-loving pup, Sammy. The two enjoy river fly fishing, hiking, and camping together.

Inspired by Chris & Sammy's adventures? Follow their Instagram here.