What is blue line fly fishing

05 November 2017


When I first started fly fishing I felt that I had to have a good deal of money, time to plan big trips to exotic destinations, and have a desire to chase the biggest fish ever.

I found out for me that that just didn’t fit the bill. I was going after fish, in the rivers that everyone else fished. Because hey they caught big fish.

After trying this for a little while, I realized that it just wasn’t my speed. There were other things that were on my list for experiencing.

One of the biggest reasons that I got into fly fishing, is my love of the outdoors. And since, I was fishing the rivers that everyone else went to, I wasn’t able to experience the outdoors like I really wanted to. I was surrounded by other fisherman, people floating on tubes, and a bunch of

That is when I first started my love of blue line fly fishing. I pulled up Google maps and started looking for all of the squigly blue lines.

I had some criteria when I started looking for these places to fish. Part of that criteria was that it needed to be out where I wouldn’t easily rub shoulders with every other fly fisherman. And I really preferred to see some beautiful country. That way, even if I was skunked by the fish, I would have experienced something amazing.

I’ve had a blast finding a few favorite spots, exploring the outdoors, learning to cook with my solo stove, and even catching fish.

My favorite blue line fishing hole.
A little brown I caught while in the backwoods.

Unique challenges

All types of fishing have their own challenges. Blue line fly fishing can present some challenges, especially if you’re coming from other a more traditional style of fly fishing.

  • Knowledge

    Probably the biggest challenge that you’ll soon realize, is that the mantras and beliefs of traditional fly fishing are all that you can find, but have very little in common with being out in the backwoods of a blue line.

  • Number one rule

    The #1 rule of blue line fly fishing is: you’re going to get your fly stuck, in branches, a lot. Practically all of the time! At first this bothered me, but now I just roll with it.

    This happens all of the time, because the streams are generally smaller, at times extremely small. Also the branches and undergrowth gets a little wild on those small streams.

  • Fitness

    You’ve got to be in shape, or you’ll hate it until you get in shape. I spend a lot of time on my feet when I’m blue line fly fishing. Sometimes I hike for hours to fish one hole and find that the fish had migrated out of that spot already.

  • Safety Concerns

    You’ve got to keep an eye out for big wildlife. Last year I was out on one of my favorite blue lines and found a moose shed. It was an awesome find, but I quickly realized I had to be careful as moose were close by.

    Also, you’re going to be out in the back country. You’re going to need an understanding of first aide. And keep your head, you’re going to need to make a lot of smart decisions while your out there. Don’t do anything too stupid.

    I realized that I made a lot better decisions once I had my first child. There was a lot more riding on me getting home safely. Keep that in mind, for whomever you might have at home waiting for you to get back.

Unique opportunities

  • The fish are hungry

    I had the itch to get out fishing one year, quite early in the season. In fact the snow was still on the ground. Most folks will tell you that you need to match the hatch. There are a few hatches in the cold months, but not this day.

    I put on my bead head pheasant tail nymph and a yarn strike indicator. I was casting around a few holes for only a couple of minutes, when a nice wild cutthroat exploded on my yarn indicator on the surface.

    A lot of the time these fish on blue line streams don’t see a lot of food. So you can generally show them what you have and you’ll get a strike. In fact my favorite patterns for these places are attractor patterns.

  • Other wildlife

    Just like the safety concerns from above, you’ll be in prime territory to see some amazing wild life, not just the fish that you’re out after. I’ve seen deer, grouse, plenty of moose and elk sign, and I’ve even been scared near to death by giant beaver.

    As long as you enjoy them from a distance you can have a fantastic time.

  • Solitude, just you and your buddies

    I picked up blue line fly fishing because I love being outdoors by myself. I have no agenda when I’m out there and there is no one else there to have an agenda either.

    If I feel like I’d like to stop and think, I do it. If I feel like hiking as fast as possible to my next hole, I do it.

    I can only remember one time in 5 years, where I ran into another fisherman interested in fishing in the same area that I was in. That sure beats some of the blue ribbon fisheries where there are anglers as far as the eye can see!

Getting started

I can hear you now, you’re wondering how to get started. This is what this blog is all about. It is to get you the information that you’ll need to get out to the blue line streams.

I’ve found a lot of conventional fly fishing wisdom, just isn’t applicable to most of my blue line trips. So I want to break down what I’ve experienced on my trips and how I break all of the rules!

To get started you’ll need

  • A fly rod & reel with line
  • A leader and tippet
  • Some flies, I recommend stimulators for now
  • A snack & some water
  • Something to carry your gear in for you

That is it. I don’t use waders, boots, or nets really. One recommendation is to use some old tennis shoes for wet wading. You don’t want to ruin anything new.

Good luck & tight lines

Me flyfishing for brook trout

Hi I'm Kendell. I started fly fishing avidly, about 5 years ago. At about the same time I finally graduated college.

I do things a little differently than the fly fishing world suggests. I usually have success and I always have fun!

I want to share what I do. Maybe you can learn something from it!