Lightning and fly fishing: Please don’t mix the two

Anglers should leave the water and drop rods when stuck in a lightning storm. Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

By Kirk Deeter

It’s that time of year when I am absolutely thrilled to hear thunder at my home in the Rocky Mountains for the first time since last October. Next to the whir of hummingbird wings, that’s my favorite sound of spring.

But with the Donner comes the Blitzen, and thus my annual warning to friends and colleagues in the fishing world. Please understand that a graphite fly rod is perhaps the world’s perfect electrical conduit, and no fish is worth getting zapped. My friend Whit Hunter sent me this photo many years ago, and I’ve held onto it ever since, if only to remind myself not to take chances with lightning. Fortunately he wasn’t holding on when this happened.

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Graphite fly rods end up looking like a little like road kill after being struck by lightning. Whit Hunter photo.

If you see lightning, drop the rod. Go inside. Go to your vehicle. Find shelter somewhere. If you are stuck outside, get out of the water, get low, and don’t sit under the tallest tree you can find. You can always go back and get the rod later. And if it looks like this one, you have a souvenir… or you can get it replaced (hopefully via warranty). But you cannot replace your friends, or yourself, and we want you all safe out there!

Kirk Deeter is the Vice President/Editor-in-Chief of Trout Media for Trout Unimited

By Brett Prettyman.