Guest Blog: A Better Way to Take Fly-Fishing Selfies

Written by: Jason Peak, River to Ridgeline

Selfie with a fish that was out of the water for about 20 seconds, taken with the SLR set-up shown below.
All photos by Jason Peak

[Editor’s note: A couple weeks ago, we launched a raucous debate when we posted Will Long’s how-to article about taking photos of your catch when you’re fishing alone. We’ve already debated the merits of the “selfie” grip-and-grin shot, so there’s no need to rehash all that. But for those who want a better way to take these shots, Jason Peak offers some excellent advice here.]

There is nothing worse than a selfie, but sometimes there are moments when they are required. My buddy Tysonrecently posted on Instagram that he’s “not a selfie fan, but when you fish alone you don’t have much of a choice.” I couldn’t agree more.Fishing selfies suck, but there are times when they are unavoidable.

Out-of-focus selfie—I should have taken my own advice.

When you’re hunting or fishing alone, it can be tough to capture moments to prove you were there.  After hanging your tag on an animal, there is no problem in taking the time to set up to take “hero” shots. But what about fishing? Many of us follow the “catch and release” principles and want to cause as little harm to the fish as possible–minimal fighting, little handling, and a short amount of time out of the water. But how does that relate to taking photos? If you catch an absolute slug, or even a beauty of a fish that you want to show off, it can be tough to take a great photo when you are all alone. Here are a few tips to shorten the amount of time the fish is out of the water but not compromise the quality of your photos.

1.  Set up before you cast
If you are looking for great photos, take your SLR and get ready to shoot before you even release the drag and let out line. If I know I am going to fish a particular run for a while, I will set up my camera in an ideal location to take a quick photo. Use the widest angle lens you have and set the exposure. This allows you to pre-plan the shot. Net the fish, hustle to the camera, and snap away.

Here is my set-up on the bank and ready.

I prefer to use a hand-held remote so I can walk up to the camera, hold out the fish, and click the shutter release quickly so the fish can get back into the water.

These little guys make taking selfies faster, easier and more efficient.

The alternative is to use the timer setting. Most cameras allow you to set the delay of the shutter for anywhere from two to ten seconds. You can run up to the camera, hit the release, back away, and get the photo before releasing the fish. The only problem with doing that is that the auto-focus can sometimes give you fits.

2.  Gorillas on the river
If you want to keep a small point-and-shoot in your vest, those work well in all sorts of situations.  But I suggest you get a GorillaPod from Joby. These little guys come in all sorts of sizes and bend or flex to attach to anything. And they are collapsible, so they fit in any number of the vest pockets you may have. Again, set up the camera before you start fishing if you can. But if you catch one on the run, it’s easy to pop the camera out and set it up on the bank or attach it to a tree limb for a great shot.

A GorillaPod on a point-and-shoot gives you flexibility on where to place the camera.

3.  GoPro photos
I mount a GoPro to the handle of my fishing net and leave it turned on. That way, when a fish hooks up, it takes just the punch of a button to capture the fish getting netted. I get some great footage from that mount position. But if you click the GoPro over to taking photos and set the intervals to one photo every two seconds, you can click the button to start snapping photos when you grab the net and then pose for two or three once the fish is landed before getting the it back into the water. This is a great way to snap multiple photos, so you have a few choices while getting a couple of action shots along the way.

Putting a GoPro on the handle of your net not only allows you to video from great angles
but also doubles as a great option for photos.

4.  Practice, Practice, Practice
Whatever you do, make sure you practice. It sounds corny, but try to take a few photos at home to get an idea of how far to stand away from the camera to fill the frame and get a great shot. A shoe works well as a stand-in for a fish. Or a loaf of bread, your wife’s purse, or a small child. Anything to get perspective and allow you to get comfortable setting up the shot. That way when the moment arrives, you are prepared to get a great, proportioned shot quickly and efficiently.

5.  Conclusion
Tyson was right. Selfies are sometimes a necessity. But when it comes to fishing, you have to balance the time it takes to get a great photo with causing as little damage as possible to the fish before you release it back into the water. Hopefully these ideas help eliminate those crappy selfies from your memory card but at the same time won’t cause any undue stress on that pig of a fish you just landed.

Jason Peak is an attorney who lives in Reno, Nevada, and he writes on the River to Ridgeline blog.

5 thoughts on “Guest Blog: A Better Way to Take Fly-Fishing Selfies”

  1. Personally, I think Go-Pros are for the type of person who thinks everything they do is awesome and unique and needs to be video taped and posted on the web. You aren’t and it doesn’t.

    That being said, I’m glad to see people taking the effort to get their fish porn on and do so with minimal harm to the fish. That should be applauded.

    Catch and release is the law in many places. If you follow the spirit of that law, it means returning the fish to the river as unharmed as possible. Makes no difference if the fish dies in the river after release or if you club it and stuff it. It’s still dead.

    I suppose I’m in the minority; I seldom take a fish out of the water. I don’t need a picture to know what I caught. I’ve let a lot of big fish go, the only documentation being the exhilaration of the fight. That’s enough for me. I’m not trying to be snobby or whatever, just that the reasons I fish don’t include updating my Facebook status with yet another grip n grin.

  2. Half of the joy of catching a prize fish is the photo finish. I unfortunately have never been able to capture the moment in any artistic way. All my photo’s turn our horrible. My thought is that I need or hire a professional photographer and then maybe I will be able to capture the moment in a more meaningful way. Yes! There is an element of ego involved but how doesn’t need there ego stroked if not but just a little. Anyway thanks doe the article.

  3. The statement is about how to capture great photos while fishing. The writer suggests that if you want to capture great photos, you should prepare your camera beforehand, even before you start fishing. You can set up your camera in an ideal location to take a quick photo, preferably with a wide-angle lens and set the exposure. This will allow you to pre-plan the shot and be ready to capture the moment when you catch a fish. When you catch a fish, you can quickly net it, run to your camera, and snap away. By pre-planning and setting up your camera, you can capture great photos of the fish you catch without wasting time setting up your camera after catching the fish.
    Perfect Photo Booth

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