I consistantly make the point that every day fishing is a day of learning and the importance of learning from other fishers, and I stand by that belief! As a species; shared learning is in our very DNA, its genetic to learn from others and to then pass that knowledge on. I am sure almost every fisher reading this would agree that by these very means many of them developed and learned. But with the trout season having now closed for us Scottish based trout fanatics and the golds and russet browns of autumn dominating the river and loch banks, the urge to linger indoors is greater and the options outdoors to hone skills have passed. The vice is calling and a need to replenishing boxes for next season passes the time with the help of our now ever connected world, with hours of videos and opinions within reach there is the real prospect of never having to leave the armchair to indulage in the next adventure. Don’t get me wrong I love filling those winter nights and weekends by the wood burner with this plethora of flyfishing pornography, but it may have its draw backs?
As the season draws to a close I go through a period of mourning, reflexion, self doubt and criticism; I could have fished more, fished better, fished smarter and of course I dwell on the flaws in my cast. Thats fine! it provides me with the kick up the backside that makes sure come next season I am improved, more prepared, ready. If I am honest this personal drive to always do better is one of reasons I return to the fly rod year after year. Self doubt is something we all suffer from and more often than not we are our own harshest critic, the key its not letting ourself be consumed by that self doubt, otherwise you would never pick up a fly rod again. But more and more I am becoming immersed in this digital fishing world that exists beyond the river bank and conversely my self doubt had grown, lingering like a monster lurking in the corner of my mind, and at first I didn’t know why?
We are bombarded daily, if not hourly by opinions and photos showing others endulging in fantastic fish adventures. Displaying their prowess with a fly rod, as they define themselves as the epitome of hunter gatherers pulling lunkers from the waters using that magic fly that never fails to produce fish. Maybe I am as guilty of this boastfull vanitey as the next, after all I write bloody flyfishing articles! All these opinions and ceaseless photos on exactly what technique to use and when, not forgeting the magic fly! That silver bullit to make you the best rod swinging fly fisher out there! What effect is this tsunami wave of digital information having? I am growing increasingly sure that this unstopable, totally immerssive wave was the cause of my growing uber self doubt! I am certain other fishers are feeling like my self, swimming through this morase of flyfishing information.
Yes its great that at a swipe of a finger there is anything your heart desires to know flyfishing, and it is a hugely valuble resource of knowledge. But and there is always a but; I have to wonder as the avid flyfisher thirstily attemps to drink in every drop of information there, are they actually creating a disconnect? As they gorge themself on opinions, techniques and everything else are they stopping themselfs learning? Learning at the most important opertunities; when they are actually, physically wetting a fly on the water? Should I be voicing this as a peddler of fly fishing writings? Yes I should as a sufferer of these very frustrations and self-doubts. On occassion I have found myself, lost in trying some new technique or random fly pattern, ignoring my muscle memory, ignoring the little voice inside; my gutt instinct that I have spent years instilling into myself. Paying the price by wasting a day in fruitless frustrations, yes its important to try new things but its equally important to develop your own skill set and knowledge base.
So what I am saying is; don’t buy in to everything you read! What you are seeing on the internet or in a You Tube video is the abridged version, the edited good bits like the trailer for most movies. All the best bits are in those 90 seconds, much like my love making. All the hundreds of hours and days so many of these fly fishers have spent refining their own skills and knowledge base learning on their own, but this is never mentioned!
Learn what you can from others, but don’t let their knowledge and opinions weigh on you or belittle your self confidence! There is no magic fly! No silver bullit! Fish with flies that you are confident in, listen to that little voice inside, you don’t need to be carrying a thousand boxes that spill fourth every incarnation of fly imaginable. I fish with about 10 to 12 fly patterens most of the season to great success, but I am as guilty as anyone of carrying to many flies. But preparing to fish any eventuallity thankfully is a habit I am kicking. There isn’t always perfect technique with the perfect cast, or the exact fly. Sometimes you just have to get down and dirty in difficult locations, searching for that perfection just results in a repeated lifting and dumping of line onto the water, spooking every bloody fish in reach. Live with that bad cast! let it fish, I don’t know how many times I’ve caught on what I would consider anobmanation of a cast. Relax, you will get another chance in moments on the next cast to achive perfection: ultimately isn’t a fish on the end the perfection we crave! Its all about technique not length, a short line in the right situation catches as many fish as chucking your whole spool of line out, remember a good cast is important but it takes time and practice. If you spend all every day spooking fish as you strive for perfection you loose sight of the point of being there!
Admire others skill, their achievements and take notes but don’t let the pressure of trying to be a fisherman like them spoil your fishing experince! Get out there, drink in every drop of the beautiful locations we fish in, savour the challenge, watch the water and how the trout behave. Observe the fly life on and above the surface and look for the entomology below the surface. And remember every flyfisher has blanked and fought the almost overpowering urge to snap their rod in to kindling. But they have picked themselves up (from the ground where they were sobbing) and cast another line and another line till finally the pieces start to come to together and fish start filling their landing nets. Shrug off those niggling doubts, breath in that cool fresh air at the start of a new season and breath out the negitive pressures of what everyone else is doing or catching.
Above all else love and enjoy every moment you spend casting a fly for trout, Tight lines!