Fly fishing is a work of art. Whether you’re blue lining to an unknown stream near home, or hiking miles into the backcountry of Montana, knowing how to capture these moments creatively will take your experience to a whole new level. Below are 7 helpful tips we like to keep in mind when hunting for the perfect shot!

1. Shoot From Water Level.

Shooting at water level with a Wild Brown Trout

When shooting, it is important to keep perspective in mind. One trait that all successful photographers have is originality. For example, they don’t shoot all their photos from eye level because this is the most common level at which things are viewed. Shooting from the water level is a great way to get that unique perspective in your photos. While it may take a little extra effort, the results will speak for themselves.

2. Shoot Through Objects

Shooting fly fishing photos through objects

While discussing perspective, another way to differentiate your photos from others is to shoot through objects. Composing your photos this way can make an otherwise ordinary photo much more interesting. Shooting through objects also allows for better manipulation of focus. In the photo above, we chose to shoot through some grass, leaving the blades out of focus to provide some foreground to the image. We also left the wall in the background slightly out of focus as well. This gives the photo three layers, the foreground (grass), the subject (angler), and the background (wall).

3. Shoot at Different Focal Lengths

Shooting a Wild Brown Trout at a different focal length than usual

There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day on the water, popping your SD card into your laptop, and finding that every photo you shot was at the same focal length. While there is nothing wrong with having your own preferred focal length, it is crucial to shoot at different ones. Varying your focal lengths makes each photo different and unique in its own way. It also allows your photos to tell more of a story.

4. Shutter Speed

Shooting an angler with a fast shutter speedShutter speed is another crucial aspect that should be considered in your photos. Different shutter speeds will produce different results. Slower shutter speeds will create a blurrier moving subject, which in many cases is a solid look. However, a faster shutter speed will capture fast-moving objects, much like the photo above.

5. Depth of Field

Shooting a gorgeous Wild Brown Trout with a shallow depth of fieldMuch like shutter speed, the aperture of your photos has two different looks. These looks are most commonly portrayed through the photos’ depth of field. Depth of field has two different styles, shallow and deep. Photos with a deep depth of field will typically have a higher aperture, meaning the majority of the image will be in focus. However, a photo with a shallow depth of field, like the one above, will blur the background, allowing the subject to stand out.

6. The Perfect Shot

An attempt at the perfect shot just after this Native Brook Trout took a dry flyAs a photographer, you never know when that “perfect shot” is going to present itself. That is why it is imperative to be ready. Having your camera within close quarters is always a good idea. By the time you take off your pack, unzip it, and the pull the camera out, the shot has already come and gone. So be ready!

7. Have Fun!

Admiring a Wild Brown Trout caught on a dry fly

Although having fun seems like an easy thing to remember, it can quickly be forgotten. It is important not to get wrapped up in the number of likes your photos get, or followers your Instagram page has. At the end of the day, enjoy what you do! It will make you happier, and show through your work!

Article and photos by Owen Rossi. See more of his work @nativerelease on Instagram

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