I vaguely remember reading an essay by Brian Clarke in one of his anthologies that argued that the terms ‘Always’ and ‘Never’ have no place in angling other than in a very few examples, for example, an angler should always have a rod licence. Mr Clarke’s central thrust was that we should not be too hidebound by tradition and the ways in which things have always been done if we want to extend our skills and experience.
However it is important that we acknowledge these traditions and simply have to accept that on some fisheries there are rules and restrictions. Sometimes these rules and restrictions are in place to protect the fishery. For example on the Peacock water of the Derbyshire why there is a strict ‘dry fly only’ rule in place during the trout season. Which patterns of fly adhere to this local dry fly rule has been the subject of extensive online debate! On the Peacock water this rule is adopted to afford the fish some sanctuary when they are not feeding at the surface of the water. An alternative example would be that some waters do not allow wading. Consequently there are stretches in these waters where the fish cannot be reached from the bank.
So an angler should always adhere to the rules and regulations of the water that they are visiting. If you don’t like the rules then fish elsewhere. Angling is a fairly broad church and you will always be able to find a water that will accommodate your desires.
In terms of never then I have always felt that one should never fish without a landing net. This is crucially important when intending to release fish and the landing net is the single item of tackle that will enable you to bring your catch in a soon as possible without having to ‘play out’ the fish. The mesh netting then enables the angler to handle the fish in the optimum manner and the hook removed and the fish returned. I really do not like seeing anglers without nets as they try to bring the fish to hand or use one of those infernal release tools.