Swinging Flies in Closed Waters with No Hook


Ignored Member
WFF Supporter
I'm sure if you could that the water would be labeled as cnr if you could fish it. But since it says CLOSED WATERS that is what that means. It's closed. Your question is like a little kid asking one parent for something getting a no answer and asking the other parent in hopes of a better response. But given that it's 2020 and pretty much no one gives a fuck about rules just do it. Who cares about the fish right, long as you are happy
Have you had your coffee this morning?


Active Member
I have done that a bit with dry flies just for entertainment. The fish told me they were sort of pissed off at the joke but upon reflection thanked me for the fly recognition lesson without the pain of the hook and the endless photo session.


Active Member
My question was intended to seek input and clarity from my peers whose opinions I value and was ready to (and already did) wholeheartedly accept the clear answer I got. Given that it's 2020, it is more important to give a fuck about the rules and also the ethics. I wouldn't be asking and have no problem accepting the above if I didn't care or prioritize the rules and ethics of it over doing what I want to do.

In case that was not clear.

Thanks everyone for their contribution - appreciate it.


still an authority on nothing
"Yank my doodle its a dandy." Do you perhaps have any additional "I always know what I am talking about" letters filed away in your glovebox and how long is the waiting list to get casting lessons? Just asking for a friend.
Just relating what DFW counsel said. Sorry you find that objectionable.


Active Member
Do you think you can convince a warden who sees you casting a line on a closed river that you aren't actually fishing? Why would you want to try and find out? Not worth the hassle.

If you aren't really expecting to catch a fish, fish without a hook on an open river.


Active Member
I forget when NMFS closed the Wenatchee (and nearby Columbia tributaries) under the ESA rules for listed spring Chinook and steelhead. Anyhow - I bought a spey rod from a near by fly shop. This same shop arranged for casting lessons on the Wenatchee during the time it was closed. Our directions from the fly shop was "yarn", no hook, knotted to the leader. I wondered if what we were doing was legal. We weren't using bent hooks, dull hooks or even shanks, just yarn. One might still argue that this is harassing endangered species but man, that's a stretch (especially given my crummy casting skills).

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
Just to clarify, I ran a casting clinic on the Skykomish for 3 yrs, even when it was closed. Never seen the warden(they did know we were doing it as we called every yr once it closed) and we only used yarn, even when it was open. Fish caught, hooked or even grabs, ZERO!


Active Member
Here's my story...smallmouth and steelhead are in the same water and hit the same flies in E WA...years ago an A$$hole USFWS officer rammed my boat and left a mark. When we pulled up our orange U-20 flatfish he asked for our punch cards. I said "no punch cards needed for SMB., where do I send the bill for the boat damage?"

I got my boat repaired at the USFWS expense. He was pissed

Fish for what is legal and make no apologies for bi-catch.

Rob Allen

Active Member
I was curious about whether fishing closed waters is both legal and ethical if you use (a) no hook on your fly (i.e. hook point and bend cut off) or (b) the point cut off your hook. Given the shrinking amount of opportunities to swing flies for steelhead in this state (and all over) and added pressure on those waters, I could imagine on some days being inclined to go skate a fly on a closed river just to maybe see a take and maybe even 2 seconds of a tug with a dull/cut off hook point.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences with this?

I don't see an ethical problem with it as long as you aren't harrassing spawners and what you are doing is incapable of hooking a fish.

Rob Allen

Active Member
Used to do this quite a bit in the off season, to test out new lines or reels or do line experiments with a bag full of reels. Nice to get out on an empty river. One time my friend got ticketed by enforcement but the ticket was cancelled because the prosecutor saw it was bogus. Wasted his day, though.
For me, I contacted DFW and finally had an email exchange with a WDFW counsel. She told me the legal description of fishing is plain and simple. No bend or point means it's not a hook. Casting without a hook is not an offense. So I printed it out and carried it in my glovebox for years.

I did it regularly as part of my job talked to wardens several times while doing it.

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