If you flyfish long enough, it isn’t a matter of “if” you’re going to fall in the river, but rather “when.” So why not use one of these dog days of summer to practice the inevitable by purposely falling in the water, and swimming downstream as you fish? No boat required. Keeps you cool. Literally “streamlines” your fishing approach. And you might just gain a few insights and a comfort level that will help you when you take that wrong step when the water isn’t so inviting.
A few quick reminders though:
First, if you are going swimming in any real current, especially in a rocky river, you want to wear a personal floatation device always. Don’t try to swim any rapids. I’ve done it, and it isn’t as fun as it sounds.
Always float down a river feet first, with your knees slightly bent. Use your arms to steer yourself, and your feet to bounce off obstacles. Avoid major obstacles like downed trees and undercut rocks.
Never fight the current. Use it to power you.
You obviously want to carry an old rod that you can part with without too much emotional distress.
You also don’t want to carry much gear for obvious reasons. A simple pair of scissor/hemostats on a zinger pinned to your shirt, a waterproof fly box with a few streamers, and maybe a spare spool of 2X tippet (best to streamer fish because you are swimming downstream, that requires fewer moving parts) should be all you need.
Get on the shore well upstream of a run you want to fish. You’re odds of sneaking up on a fish are far better with your feet than they are with you swimming.
Leave your wallet on dry land, but if you must carry your license, put it in a plastic bag.
Respect other anglers at all times. They’re going to think you’re nuts anyway, so it’s best not to antagonize them by swimming through runs others are fishing.
If the water isn’t chilly enough to give you a good shiver, it’s not cold enough for trout fishing. But swim fishing can work for bass also.