Experiencing a fly-fishing adventure with our Orvis® Endorsed Fly Fishing Guides is one of our guests’ favorite ways to add a special experience to their trip. Part of what makes those trips so special is the moment when you can net your perfect Trophy Trout.

Netting a fish can be easy and safe for both you and your fish with proper etiquette. Here are a few tips from our Orvis® Endorsed Fly Fishing Guides on the best methods for safely netting a fish and taking that epic fish photo:

  1. Let your fish breathe.

The most helpful suggestion that we can offer is to let your fish breathe for a few minutes in the net prior to taking them out of the water for a photo or for measuring. Imagine doing a 30-minute uphill hike to Moses Cone Manor and as soon as you get there, and are huffing and puffing from all that exertion, someone holds your head underwater for a minute so they can take your picture! This is exactly what the fish goes through when you do not allow proper oxygenation after the big fight. You both deserve a little break for doing such a great job! This allows you both to catch your breath and it also increases the fish’s survival rate more than anything else you can do, besides leaving them in the water.

  1. Wear a fishing glove. And remember the 7-second rule.

A fishing glove is very helpful for first-timers or those who are nervous about touching the fish... it gives you a little extra grip when holding your wet fish and keeps you from squishing them when they naturally try to wiggle away. If you need a few tries to take your perfect fish photo, take your time. Remember the 7-second rule- 7 seconds out of the water and then back in to let them breathe. You can do this multiple times to get your photo and it is better for the fish. This method also produces much better fish pictures since everyone is more relaxed.

  1. Control your catch by the base of the tail.

The base of the tail is the best place to control your fish. Please keep in mind that your fish’s heart is right between those little front fins, so squeezing there to hold the fish may end up stopping its heart. We heavily encourage patience and practicing being a professional every time so that you and the fish are both safe.

  1. Make sure your hands are wet before touching the fish.

Make sure that you wet your hands in the water before touching any part of your beautiful fish. All fish have a natural protective coating over their entire body that acts like a shield against bacteria, viruses, bugs, and people! When you touch any fish with dry hands, it rubs their coating away leaving your fish damaged and in danger when you release them back into the water.

  1. Use a Ghost Net.

We recommend using a 'Ghost Net', which are composed of a clear, rubber-like material that helps your fish keep safe and happy.

By using a soft net, wetting your hands, using a fishing glove, practice proper handling, and letting your fish breathe, you will give your catch the best chances of recuperating from your battle and living to fight again another day! Nothing makes us feel like better environmental stewards than catching the same fat and healthy Trophy Trout year after year.

– Morgan Tarbutton, Fly Fishing and Outdoor Programs Manager


To book a trip with us, please call 828-295-5509! We can't wait to see you out on the water!