In the course of a single summer I destroyed 3 smartphones by dropping them into the river. On phone #2, I was on a remote fishing trip in northern Michigan.

I had to leave my fish camp and drive 2 hours to find a Verizon dealer. Being the “smart guy” that I am, I insured my phones.

By the end of the summer my phone insurance was cancelled. I had to find a better way to take fishing pictures.

Looking for the Best Fly Fishing Camera?

The Olympus TG-5 Waterproof has easily been the best camera I’ve owned for Fly Fishing. Super rugged the TG-5 has been on countless fly fishing trips. Waterproof to over 80 feet, shockproof to withstand 6′ foot drops, I’ve tested this camera in the harshest environments.

Why Pick the Olympus TG-5

I’m not a professional photographer, but I Highly Recommend the Olympus TG-50 Waterproof Camera (link to Amazon for pricing and more reviews) I love to fly fish and require a camera to stand up to whatever situation I’m in.

Examples of where my camera has been:

  • Multiple saltwater fly fishing trips to Florida ? casting for snook and sea trout.
  • Brutally cold winter trips to northern Michigan chasing steelhead.
  • Summer time on the remote islands of Lake Michigan casting to monster Carp.
  • Night time Hex fishing on the banks of the Au Sable river. Each of the above trips tested how rugged this camera is.

I’ve even dropped this camera in the river then stepped on it with my waders with no ill effects.

How Easy is the TG-5 to Use?

Olympus was a pioneer in the 35mm Point and Shoot camera industry. Check out the reference to Olympus in the history of Point and Shoot Cameras from Wikipedia. I believe Olympus has been around so long, they’ve learned how to make a camera easy to use.

The ultimate test for ease of use is to hand your camera to a someone who has never touched it and ask for them to snap a picture of a memory that you can cherish.

Picture with Olympus TG-5
Picture with Olympus TG-5

With three buttons on the top of the camera anyone can quickly turn on this camera and snap a picture.

  • Power – On/Off button
  • Shutter-  that focuses and snaps pics.
  • Video– on/off.

Two additional features have stood out with this camera. The first is how quickly you can ZOOM in on the shot. Right above the “natural” position of your thumb is a toggle that zooms in and out.

The second is being the able to set the exposure and still have the camera operate in Auto mode. This feature allows you to increase the brightness ever so slightly which aids in post picture processing.

A single battery will last all day in normal fishing situations. On really cold days, (below 30 degrees) I’ve found having an extra battery is a good idea. Heck cold days in Michigan kill car batteries.

What other cameras have I used for Fly Fishing?

I?m usually with a buddy or fly-fishing guide when I?m on the water. This gives me a fantastic opportunity to play with other cameras.

The Canon D30 (link to Amazon for pricing) My good friend George has the Canon. I’ve taken 100s of pictures with it. The picture quality may actually be a little better..But it’s been dis-continued.

I think the sensor is a little bigger. I actually recommend this camera on this page – Recommended Gear Camera.

Why mention the Olympus Tough? Rumor is that the Powershot D30 is being discontinued. If that happens get the Olympus TG-5.

Cameras for Fly Fishing
Cameras for Fly Fishing

Why isn’t the Canon best? I’ve found it to be a little more cumbersome to operate. It has lots of buttons and wheels to scroll through for option.

Nikon Coolpix AW130, my buddy Montana (great name!!) has a AW130. Out of the cameras in this article the AW130 is the newest model.

GoPro Hero, I use my GoPro practically every time I’m out fishing. The thing is they’re designed to take action videos. For a quick picture holding the “fish of a lifetime” they really aren’t a great tool.

A GoPro has a wide angle fisheye lens. Which is great for editing videos but results in distorted still photos.

My Fly Fishing Camera Comparison Chart

Fly Fishing Camera Comparison
Fly Fishing Camera Comparison

What Does the Camera Include?

The Olympus TG-5 Waterproof comes with the following:

  • Battery 3.7 volt Li-ion battery that should last for a full day of pictures.
  • Charger, from my experience it takes less than 2 hours to full charge the battery.
  • Safety strap, with a neat tightening clasp
  • Instruction booklet, about 30 pages of info. The first 10 pages will get you up and shooting fast.
  • A 1 Year Limited Warranty, the warranty has a bunch of fine print (mailing instructions and conditions). I’ve never had to use mine.

Care and Maintenance of this Kind of Camera

  • Step one in caring for this camera is to rinse it off in warm clean tap water to remove any sand, salt or mud. After washing in tap water dry with a soft towel.
  • Pop open the access doors and make sure the seals are clean of dirt and sand. Something to note: it may seem obvious, but the doors need to be shut for the camera to be waterproof.
  • I also recommend getting anti-fog lens cleaning wipes. The Zeiss Lens Wipes (Amazon link) have been really good for me. The individual packs are convenient and easy to use. Plus, you can get a couple hundred of them for cheap.
  • The door seals, I’ve also gotten in the habit of wiping the little seals with water that has a touch of dish soap. I thought about applying a little petroleum jelly to the seals, but the instruction specifically says NOT to do that.

What Camera Accessories Should You Add to the Olympus?

Accessories for Fly Fishing Camera
Accessories for Fly Fishing Camera

Without a doubt get a Tripod. These simple gadgets make a world of difference shooting pictures. I use the JOBY GorillaPod. Made from plastic and stainless steel it seems to grip onto anything. The 10-inch legs conform to most every surface, yet it is small enough to take most every place that fish are.

Next-up for must have accessories is an extra battery. The Battery that comes with the camera has been great, but for peace of mind get an extra.

Okay, why camera manufactures don’t provide an SD card is beyond me. I get the SANDISK ULTRA CLASS. (Amazon Link great reviews and pretty inexpensive) Get SPEED CLASS 10, the camera does require it, but with this class you can usually transfer the card between different cameras.

Lastly, I own a silicon jacket to cover the camera. The jacket provides a little bit of peace of mind. All the buttons and functions will still work with the jacket on. Intuitively having a little bit of extra protection around the camera makes sense.

If You’re Shopping Below are Some Quick Links to Amazon for Items Described:

How to Make your Fly Fishing Pictures Better?

A couple things I’ve learned over the years.

  • It’s a digital camera so, take a bunch of pictures. That perfect smile never seems to be in the first pic. Deleting a bad picture is free!
  • Use the tripod, I don’t say this to just keep the camera steady. Using a tripod gives you that couple of extra seconds to compose a better picture.
  • TAKE OFF YOUR HAT and SUNGLASSES!
  • If you can, take some macro shots. The Olympus is capable of snapping pictures an inch away from the object.
  • POST PICTURE EDITING, use free software like PICMONKEY to crop, add contrast and fix errors. Don’t kid yourself that those pictures you see everywhere aren’t cleaned up with software after being taken.
  • This little bit of editing will turn a fair shot into an amazing work of art.