Review: OnWater App

onwater app

Fish smart.

If you're like me, you're reluctant to download another outdoor app. Given all the hiking, biking, skiing, camping, climbing, and fishing apps out there, it's hard to justify an increase to the already-extensive app arsenal. Which is why I was a bit skeptical about OnWater—does it have any groundbreaking qualities that make it a worthwhile addition to my smartphone portfolio?

Turns out, it does. Unlike most map-overlay apps, OnWater is user-friendly. Whether you want to search for rivers you plan to fish on an upcoming trip, or learn more about the one you just drove by, the interface is easy to navigate and makes finding access points a breeze.

As a location log, you can flag places on the map to return to later. Maybe it’s a spot where you caught a big fish, or you spotted a nice wave-train you want check out next spring in the kayak. Anything and everything, a quick tap and it's marked for future reference. Don’t worry, these markers are private, so no one will steal your new honey hole.

Another cool feature is the ability to download offline maps, which is great when you're out of service in the deep woods of Montana and can’t remember if you were supposed to head up the east fork or west fork to find that bridge for access.

What I like best, though, is the thorough compilation of points of interest: hiking trails, campsites, landmarks, even the rock where Brad Pitt's character performed the iconic “shadow casting” scene in A River Runs Through It. (I’m still waiting for them to accept my request to add “Outside Bozeman HQ” to the map.) Which means that although the app is tailored to fly fishing, all sorts of waterborne recreationalists, from boaters and floaters to camper-toters, will find it useful.

The only drawback is the occasional lack of information on some smaller waters. There are a few creeks and streams I was hoping to learn about that the OnWater team hasn't gotten around to adding yet; but then again, maybe that's a good thing. Sometimes it's best to leave a few stones unturned. If you do happen to find yourself on an unmarked body of water, you can still flag spots that you want to save for later.

All in all, though, the app is helpful when fishing familiar waters, and particularly valuable when charting new territory, whether you're fishing, camping, or canoeing. At $40 for the annual subscription, it’s on par with other apps of its kind. Check it out at