Let’s start here: You’re a fly fisherman, a seasoned angler, you know what the term 5x is referring to, you know the difference between a comparadun and a parachute BWO, you have racked up a ton of days on the river, Life is pretty good for you, but do you have the proper mindset?
Do you miss more strikes then you think you should? Do you get frustrated when you have a great drift and you think it’s more often than not a rock or a stick? Only to find out it was a strike that you just lost out on?
Welcome to the world of an improper mindset – a world most fishermen believe they are above or shouldn’t be concerned about.
Let’s paint another picture.
Imagine this; You find yourself the most remarkable spot on the river, alone on great water loaded with gorgeous “bubble seams” flowing under a shaded tree section, just the right amount of cloud cover. You tie on a fly that matches the hatch perfectly, all is right in the world. You skillfully judge your distance, line, and rod in hand, you make the perfect cast to that one sipping trout you spotted from the bank, then BAM, he takes your bug, you set the hook, hastily and snap the fly off…then your line is tangled in the trees, you yell “Mother FK’r” then your temper rises because you have to wade through the water you were planning on fishing…you feel your day is now ruined.
Question is, is this fishermen’s head in the right place? Some may say yes, there is nothing wrong with trying to achieve perfection while doing any sport, being disappointed that your masterful effort wasn’t rewarded, frustrated that errors were made and so on, that’s fine, but, what a shortsighted way to do something you claim to love…I see things a bit differently.
I do understand that missing an opportunity can be aggravating but in my mindset, at least you were given the chance. Something to remember is fishing is about compromise, it’s about giving and taking, some times you “win” and sometimes the fish “wins’. But you can’t forget that at that very moment, that very second the trout did its part, you fooled the fish in believing that your offering was better than the real thing. So what if you lost it, what it should teach you is to take a moment to reflect on what you could have done differently to have the result you were expecting. The proper mindset is realizing there will always be another opportunity, another chance in the future. That snapped off fly and spaghetti in the trees is only a moment, the only thing that got hurt was your ego.
The fact is this, you could easily be sitting in your office, behind a counter, mowing your lawn, painting the fence, sitting in the blistering heat, hating life, instead of collecting yourself, looking around at the beautiful surroundings of the river, digging out your fly box, tying on a new length of tippit and focusing on that next “opportunity” just around the bend.
The next change in mindset (and this is directed to the millennials reading this blog) is don’t get fixated on taking photos of every fish you catch. I do understand the importance of social media and how it has become a deep-rooted part of the youth culture but leave something for you. Despite popular beliefs, you will not become the next fly fishing influencer nor will you make a living by having a certain company beer can placed oh so perfect next to your catch or having a reel manufacturers hat on, tilted so it looks good in the image, truthfully it’s transparent and kind of ridiculous. The proper mindset is you’re out doing a beautiful, poetic sport in places most people won’t have an opportunity to enjoy. Instead of being vainglorious, you should really be humbled. Secondly, and most importantly, it is really bad for the fish and our fishing resource to abuse the fish that way, the more we handle them, the more we keep them out of the water only shortens their life span if it doesn’t kill them that day. I take this very seriously, your wishing for more likes and shares is nowhere as important to respect the life, habitat and well being of the animals which are the reason we fly fish in the first place.
One other point of mindset is to remember why you started to fly fish in the first place. I can tell you mine;
It takes me to beautiful places, quiet solitude, wilderness, water, a place to escape the ‘real’ world.
I enjoy the riddle that every day brings on the river when I’m hunting for fish. What’s the hatch? Is it bright today? Are they on dries or nymphs? What’s the flow? and so on.
Lastly, I never forget that the Trout, Bonefish, Tarpon, Whitefish did me a favor by eating my fly, so my mindset is that I am just grateful for a day on the river.
Guide Glenn Smith