River Right or Left Who Really Decides?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by James Waggoner, Dec 29, 2013.


What direction of river do you find yourself most of the time?

  1. River Right (by preference)

  2. River Right (for other reasons)

  3. River Left (by preference)

  4. River Left (for other reasons)

  5. About Even

  1. River Right or left? I've thought about this for years and have my reasons/theories, which I'll share along the way.
  2. Since I don't have a boat the side of the river I fish from is dictated by which side of the river I have access to. If I'm able to wade across the river I'll pick right or left based on the water conditions.
  3. I thought you were asking who decides which bank of the river is the right bank and left bank. I see that you're not. BTW, it was USGS who decided that right and left bank is determined by looking downstream. Some competing engineers wanted to do it by looking upstream. They lost the naming skirmish.
  4. Basically thinking back on your times on the river which direction is the river traveling...river right or left? Visualize your favorite runs to fish predominately which way is the flow?

    There is no wrong or right answer...but my decision is often dictated by other factors other than my preference and more times than not it's river right.

    Personally if I'm facing the water "which way is it moving?" just makes more since. It's interesting there was a debate at one time.

  5. For me I find myself fishing on the side that is easiest to access.

    There are a few cases were I will find myself on River left, but most cases I have access river right.
  6. Sounds like your pretty fortunate to have equal access...roads and trails down either side of the river. Most the rivers I find myself fishing have predominately right bank access.

    What's funny is other than the Sandy, even when I float a river I find myself on the right bank slightly more often...it must be a sub-conscience leaning.

  7. Depends on the position of the sun, structure, and right(s) of way. That being said, I answered "about even" but prefer to fish river left.
  8. I primarily fish a single hander and am right handed so if I fish dries upstream I like to be on river right so that my back cast is clear, if fishing down and across streamers then left gives me more casting space. Czech nymphing is pretty much dabbing so about equal. I base this only on a few rivers that are easily waded across, on bigger rivers I get whats there.
    Irafly likes this.
  9. Which ever side has the best water in the section of river I choose to fish that day.

    I didn't vote 'cause it doesn't matter which side of the river the good water is on.
  10. Never even thought about it. But when im in the boat I go where the water dictates. As far as swinging bugs for steelhead, if I really think about it. Most the runs I fish are excellent from both sides. And also there is access from both sides so I guess it just depends on which side I feel like fishing haha
  11. Whether it matters or not or your methodology for deciding aside, I was just curious to know statistically where do you end up. In reality it is probably not a 50/50 split. The poll is simple, where do you end up most of the time, was it by choice or circumstance? Your explanation/contribution is welcomed so thanks to all who choose to participate.

    What's really telling is when reviewing an old fishing journal and looking at pictures, lost or landed, most were from river right.

    If you'd rather talk "Yarnies" I understand.

  12. About even. My methodology is very simple. I fish where there's good water.
    Dan Nelson and Evan Virnoche like this.
  13. The poll is not about where the good water is, I think I speak for all that find themselves confined to one bank or the other, that they seek the best water available to them.

    Durning my lunch I often fish a run very close to where I work...time only permits me to fish an hour or so, so I fish quite frequently the same run. It's a beautiful run that not only fishes best from the right bank it produces fish on occasion...it is a fine way to spend a lunch break. There is a closer river left spot but it usually has a couple anglers already in it as I slow down and take a peek...so circumstances put me river right.

    While fishing the kalama, access keeps me predominately river right. Most of the Washougal is accessed river right. Those that claim they are always balanced while fishing, left to right, do you forgo fishing rivers of limited access or only do so while boating?

    It really does matter to me what side of the river the good water is on as I don't spend much time swinging flies through runs better fished from the opposite side.

    Personally I'll fish a less desirable run that's been vacant then "good water" that's being pounded, with lots of traffic.

    I'll also specifically decide to fish one bank or the other based on the casting techniques I want to work on.

  14. It just depends on the river. I fish the Wilson (Oregon coast) frequently and depending on flows I know where I can wade across. If it's too high, or too cold to risk taking a swim then it's primarily a left bank deal, although it's a windy river so there is decent right bank access in spots.

    On the Clackamas there's reasonable access to either side but I find myself gravitating to the same handful of places that are all left bank.

    99% of my time on the deschutes and rogue has been right bank.

    It's a topic I've never really considered much but I am 100% certain that when I don't have access to the opposite bank I'd surely catch a fish in the sweet run that's out of reach!
  15. James, I don't find myself fishing one side of the river over another. I don't even think about it. I rarely work on my casting and have no issues casting from either side of the river. I, sometimes, will fish a side based on conditions outside of "good water". I will fish a certain side of the river if the wind is blowing but I am also comfortable casting off of either shoulder so wind isn't really a big consideration. I guess I don't understand the poll.
  16. When I am trout fishing with a single handed rod, I choose the side of the river with the best water and trout habitat (can cast a single handed rod equally well in either hand or cack handed depending on the wind etc). When spey casting, since the snap-t is my strongest cast, I like river left better, but still choose the side with the best water. (I fish primarily out of a drift boat or pontoon). Also wind direction can make a difference on the preferred side. Rick
  17. This is what your poll asks.

    What if that's the answer? I don't understand people who ask a question but don't like the answers. Or, they have to redefine the question to get the answer they were looking for.

    I guess I don't understand the poll either.
    smc likes this.
  18. Seriously man? I dont fish yarnies... I was just telling you how it is for me. I get them on prince nymphs when im not swinging! But thats besides the point.... my time is closer to being split in half than it is to any other answer to your poll. Sorry if that offends?
  19. Blake I got a day to head down on Wednesday... wanna grab some yarnies and do work on some steelfaces?
  20. The poll is really simple; whether you find good water or bad water, statistically where do you end up the most? The "Good water" doesn't address the poll's question, that's like saying "I fish on the water side of the bank"

    Kerry, Great answer! That's the kind of interchange I'm looking for. Are you missing the point? Partially it seems. I was just trying to stimulate conversation. Whether you ever consider it, think it important or it has never crossed your mind is the case, whatever the reasoning or non reasoning, if you recalled the last ten outings, what side of the river were you on the most, that is the answer. I guess to keep it less confusing I should have just put left or right as options, but I felt to stimulate conversation I'd like to hear from those that seem to have there choice made for them because of other factors. I do appreciate your effort to engage in conversation.

    Anyway, thanks guys. It sounds like my attempt to just get a bunch of guys talking has failed. I suppose that's what makes us steelheaders, we are unsociable and mostly grumpy and it only gets worse with declining runs and age!


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