Taking better Fly Fishing photos with your mobile device

Take your best shot

We are always learning:  how to advance our fishing techniques.  But what about your photography?  With these tips, we'll help you take better photos with your mobile phone.

Let's be honest, most of us don't carry around a camera to take our photos. 

We are often just happy and excited to land our fish in the net and release it safely so it can grow and be caught again, so it can become that bruiser of a fish we all dream of.  And sometimes we want to capture the moment!  As technology has improved, a large majority of us don't carry digital cameras anymore; only our beloved iPhone or Android.  These can take great photos too!  Hopefully these tips & tricks can help make sure you have success catching the moment.

In the age of digital photography, experimentation is easy.  Our advice, give things a try and see what happens.  You can always delete or undo what you don't like.

Keep the lens clean

No matter what device you use, if your lens is smudged or dirty, the camera will not be able to focus properly. 

Know your lenses

Modern phones have more than one lens on the camera.  Without getting into variants, there is typically a "standard", a "macro" and a "wide angle" version.  What are the differences and why would you want them?

The macro lens

With "macro" features, the lens can focus on uber close up subjects.  You might want to snap a photo of that fly you just tied, or a bug on your hand, or some colorful fish scales.  This lens is what you want to use!

You will typically have to hold the camera very close to your subject.

macro fish Credit: GrahamOwen
Macro photo iphone Credit: GearPatrol
Fish Fin Macro Credit: GinkAndGasoline


Wide Angle

Picture this: You're at the bend of a river during sunset and you want to capture the moment. Your camera cuts off the sides of the river.  You think "Sheesh.  If only I could get a little bit wider of a view."

Other than hiking backwards the only other option is to use your wide angle option.  This "zoom" level makes things appear smaller but includes more of the entire scene in front of you.


You might have also heard of a "fish eye" lens.  This is similar to wide angle, but has more of a rounding effect.  If you purchase a true fish eye lens, have fun experimenting.

Don't zoom in!

Rule #1 of photography, don't zoom in if you don't have to!  If you have to, zoom in as much as you need to zoom in to get everything that’s important into the scene. 

Instead of zooming, try moving closer

Why shouldn't you zoom in?  You'll end up with pixelated photos.  Zooming in is essentially "cropping" the original photo which means you are reducing clarity of the photo and making pixels more visible.  

 dont zoom in

Can you see the clarify difference above?  While your camera might allow you to zoom in further than the standard 1x to 3x change.  DO NOT go above 3x.  It's no longer using the lens and is instead manipulating the 3x lens result.

Image Quality

Speaking of clarity difference, you should always take photos in the highest resolution offered.  Why?  You will have better success printing, cropping, and will always look better on screens, such as our Instagram and Facebook pages!


To verify or change, go to Settings > Camera > Formats to change the way your device saves photos and videos. Select High Efficiency to save photos in the HEIF format.


To verify or change, go to Camera > Control > More Options > Picture Size > Choose the highest available.

Selfie mode, modified

The best way to capture you with a fish or with something interesting?  Selfie mode!  But without the front facing selfie camera. 

Combine tools and technology to get high quality photos of you and your trophy fish 

Technology options:

A Smart watch with your mobile device.  If you own an Apple or Android Smart watch, this will already be connected to your mobile device.  The rest is easy, just use your "remote photo" app on the watch to connect to your phone.   You can see the live camera view on your watch to make sure you're in the photo.

 camera remote app


Now all you have to do is decide on the timer so it will countdown before the picture is taken.

Bonus tech advice:  Use voice commands to trigger the photo so you can remain hands free.  

"Siri, take a picture" will open the camera and then you just need to click the countdown button

A helping hand

As you might be able to see above, the camera is mounted on a mini tripod.  Tripods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  Some even can grab or wrap on to terrain nearby you to make it easier if you're out in natural surroundings.

 mini tripods

The mini-tripods, from left to right: Novoflex BasicBall & Ball 30; ProMaster TTS522; Joby Gorillapod Focus & Ballhead X; Sirui 3T-35R; FLM CP10-A1 & CB-24E.  Credit to dpreview.com

The Joby GripTight GorillaPod Tripod allows you to take pictures on almost any surface.  Photo credit mobilfun.sg


Figuring out how and where to place your tripod before you've even caught a fish might prove to have its own learning curve.  I would recommend setting up the tripod each time you get to a new spot so you know where it is ahead of time; and then you can access your watch to take the photo without having to get the camera setup.

Get out as much as you can!

Similar to anything else, the more you do something, the more you can get comfortable at the basics and work on trying new things.  Some great things to consider:

  • Different angles, not just grip & fins
  • Different light
  • Different weather

Editing your mobile photos

A high tech program like Photoshop is only as good as the knowledge of the user.  I love simple but powerful options.  There are some great mobile apps for post processing.  The best part?  You can always undo to go back a step or discard to start over.  I recommend SnapSeed for photo editing.  It has tons of presets, or you can really have fun with specific filters. 

I don't recommend editing directly on Facebook or Instagram

Key editing parts to consider:

  • Light v Dark v Contrast
  • Color saturation
  • Selective color v black & white
  • vignettes and lens blur
  • HDR mode


Hopefully these ideas will get the most out of your mobile device.  Remember to get creative and try new things, and just have fun.

We look forward to seeing what you can do this year.  With the new Photo Contest requirements, some of this tips should greatly help.

There are a ton of other resources out there about angles and gear to help.   Here is one particularly nice write up.