I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have to check myself. I have to take note and avoid falling into the trap, the lazy trap, of going through the motions, and not fishing properly.
Typically at day’s end, or when fishing in less than ideal conditions, ones mind starts to wander.
The most classic symptoms of this are probably:
- starting to retrieve the fly too fast
- lifting off to cast earlier than you should: not fishing the cast out
- Moving to a new spot and failing to fish the water under your feet, but just casting “out there”
- not bothering to change fly or line, even when you know that conditions dictate that you should, but it is nearly home time, or lunch time, etc.
- fishing a stream faster and faster, and skipping what you tell yourself are “marginal spots”
- failing to stalk and fish the tails of the pools, instead going straight to the sweet spot up in the throat of the pool.
There may be some more that are not popping into my mind right now, but I think you get the idea.
It is day’s end, or about to rain, or your fishing pal is up ahead and you feel you ought to catch up with him, so you hurry past some good pocket water, your eyes fixed up ahead to see where he is.
These situations all conspire to rob you of rewarding fly-fishing experiences.
So sometimes I have to remind myself, to be a little more driven about the thing. Now I don’t mean to turn your fly-fishing outing into some business venture, or to put any stress into the experience. This is after all a leisure activity. But wouldn’t we all like to land that good fish at day’s end, or avoid having to notch up another blank day?
The other day I was on a good stillwater. The fishing had been difficult, but by day’s end the other blokes had all managed a fish or two, and I had not. There were probably ten minutes left on the water. Twenty max. The other guys were packing up. They had told ne not to hurry. “No pressure” they said, but they were all packing up, and I was still out on the water.
I had been fishing over some thick weed a little earlier, so I had a floating line on my five weight rig. I was fishing an attractor pattern, and I was now over some deep water in my float tube. I was having no action, apart from a single take half an hour earlier. The wind had got up, and the conditions didn’t look as good as they had earlier.
Stop. Breathe. Think. The fish are probably deeper. All the other fish caught today were deeper.
I changed to my intermediate line, and immediately hooked into three fish in quick succession.
There have been many times when I just went through the motions for the last twenty minutes, packed up, and went home.
Stop. Breath. Think.