Do You Invest in Learning Days On The Water?

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I often write blog posts here on Fly Talk about how to slow down and spot fish, or how to slow down and work on your cast, and so forth. And I'm interested to read the comments like, "Well, that's all good, but when I have my scant, sacred time on the river or lake, I'm really focused on fishing and catching fish, and I can't waste the time worrying about things like how to spot fish, or how to throw nice loops when I cast," and so forth.

I totally understand all of that. Fishing time is sacred, and must be spent doing what matters most to you. And, no doubt, success is measured by fish hooked and landed (some of which undoubtedly end up in the creel or cooler). All of which is cool in my book.

But I would propose to you who feel this way that fly fishing is a marathon, not a sprint. There are, hopefully, many other days down the road (or river) when taking a little extra time to observe, hone, and practice will come in handy and lead to more positive results.

To me, saying, "I'm too busy with my valued time on the water to worry about things like perfecting a roll cast, or learning how to spot fish" is tantamount to a golfer saying, "I'm too busy playing the course to worry about how I actually swing my clubs, or how to dial in the putting stroke." And I'm sorry, but, while I respect your enthusiasm to get after it, I think you're making a big mistake.

The practice, and the mechanics, are what makes good fishing (or golf, for that matter) possible. Those guys who get paid high dollars to play golf for a living aren't "naturals," and they aren't lucky. They spend hours, and hours on the practice range, creating a rhythm.

I think that's true for the best fly fishers I know as well. They spend hours, just sitting on the bank, watching fish behave. Sometimes, they'll dedicate days on the water, simply watching fish, nary making a cast.

Do you dedicate days to watching and learning or is it all about plowing ahead?

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with making every moment, and every cast, count. What I am saying, however, is that making every moment count, as an angler, doesn't necessarily involve making casts.