Whether you’ve spent 100 or 10,000 days on the water, what defines any angler’s skills are the tools they’ve collected during their fly fishing journey. Whether it’s inventive ways to trick trout, or tried and true gear that’s made its way through the process of natural selection – our metaphorical tool belts are always filling up with more implements that we hope will aid us in finding success on the water. In our newest Flylords Editorial Series, we’ll be asking some of our friends to show off a few tools they’ve discovered over the years, in hopes of inspiring new ideas and offering some advice to those who are looking for different approaches when exploring new and familiar fisheries.

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In this installment of ‘Tools of the Trade,’ our friend and seasoned traveling angler, Kayla Lockhart, is here to share three tools she always keeps on hand, and in mind, when exploring new water.

Via Kayla Lockhart 

Exploring New Water:

Throughout my fly fishing journey, I’ve learned how important it is to have the right tools at my disposal when approaching a new fishery. Through trial and error, I’ve learned that when fishing new water, starting with a few tricks up your sleeve makes figuring out the unknown just a bit easier. Whether it’s a technique I’ve picked up from a fishing buddy, or a piece of gear that I don’t leave home without, with those tools in mind and on hand, I can focus on the bigger picture when I’m getting ready to make that first cast.

Here are 3 tools I always utilize when exploring new water:


In my opinion, local fly shops are one of the best tools you can utilize when exploring new water. As fly anglers, we are so fortunate to have a vast network of locations where we can get tailored advice for fly fishing in that area. It’s one of the amazing things that makes this sport and our community so unique compared to other outdoor pursuits. 

Find Fly Shops near you with the “Fly Shop” POI on the onWater Fishing App.

The thing about fly shops is that they mainly exist to serve one core tenant: To help anglers! Now, this doesn’t mean you should go waltzing into any fly shop and expect to get a hand-picked list of the best fishing holes around – what would be the point in that? However, what it does mean, is that you have a resource of passionate anglers/employees who’ve put in countless hours on their local waters trying to “crack the code.” This can provide you a jumping-off point for success. This includes advice like: which flies have been working well, stretches of river that have been productive, recommended gear, water conditions, recent angler success, and more can be at your disposal entering a fly shop. Even if you’re new to the fishery, and want some on-the-water assistance, you can book a guided trip.

Just remember, the advice is free, so make sure to say thanks by being sure to purchase some flies, leader, or any other materials you might need while you’re there. This is a sure fire way to ensure fly shops will remain a tool for us all in the future.


When fishing new water, I learned I was spending a lot of time re-rigging: changing from indicator to streamer or dry setups… which leads me to my second tool – having two rods rigged up. Having two rods with different setups on new water makes for less time rigging, and more time fishing.

One of the most frustrating, yet necessary, parts of exploring new water is to constantly be re-rigging and tying on, sometimes dozens of, new flies or even leaders and lines, in an attempt to figure out what exactly the fish are biting on that day. This is why I’ve recently started bringing two rigged rods with me down to the water. Sure, it’s one extra thing to worry about, but having both rods ready to be subbed in and out within moments lets me thoroughly fish each stretch of water I’m exploring, with no time wasted by swapping rigs.

For instance, there have been so many times that I’ve come to the water hoping to entice a fish to take a big top water dry, but when that fails, letting a properly swung streamer entice that brooding bunkered fish to drop its guard and find its way to my net is pretty great. Sometimes, revisiting a spot with a brand-new approach is the only way to make the action happen – and having that second choice already rigged and ready to go makes the choice of taking a second pass all the more justifiable.



The newest tool that I have recently added to my wader pocket is the OnWater fishing app. Within the app, one of the features I use most frequently when exploring new water is the Public and Private Property Boundaries Layer Feature.

Unfortunately, across the United States, water access laws differ substantially from state to state. What constitutes legal access in one state could be completely off the table in its neighboring state. For instance, in Colorado, Stream Access laws dictate that anglers aren’t allowed to enter the water, via land or navigable stream, if they are touching the bottom of the river/lake bed (water crafts are still allowed to make their way through the river, since they aren’t touching any land, but even the act of anchoring on private stretches of river is specifically prohibited). This means that anglers must stay within public land boundaries when wade-fishing unless they have explicit permission from landowners. Laws like this exist all over the country, and in these states, it’s paramount to know where you stand.

However, the onWater Private and Public Land layer allows me to do just that just from my phone. By turning on the Public Land layer, all public land is highlighted in green, showing me where I’m safe to fish. The Private Land layer also highlights any private property around me in red, showing me where I need to stay away from, to ensure I’m fishing safely and responsibly.

This feature also helps a lot with E-scouting, or scouting via onWater maps before I even head out fishing. By checking out areas in advance and adding points of interest, I can begin to piece together where I want to fish before even getting there.

Note: your phone’s GPS isn’t always 100% accurate, so still be sure to be vigilant of public “no trespassing” or “POSTED” signs. If you’re not sure about an area, don’t guess. Getting answers is usually as easy as calling your local Fish and Game, or Department of Wildlife Office.


I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and experiences with others, empowering fellow anglers with proven tools and strategies that can transform their fishing adventures into unforgettable and fulfilling experiences. I hope you were able to learn something new and add these tools to your next fishing adventure!

Be on the lookout for more installments of ‘Tools of the Trade’ for even more helpful tools you can utilize and add to your fly fishing tool belt. Also, thank you to the onWater Fishing App for making this series possible.

To learn more about the onWater Fishing App, or see how you can start your free trial today, CLICK HERE.

Behind the Brand: onWater Fishing App


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