5 Sports (Other than Fishing) That Will Make You a Better Angler

Okay, so don't take any of this too seriously. But the other day, I got to thinking about things you can do, outside of fly fishing, that can arguably improve your game on the water.

1. Golf
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Golf and fly fishing, both evolved from Scotland centuries ago, are essentially the same sport--one played wet, the other played dry (unless you golf like me, in which case golf is also a water sport). Think about it. They attract the same type-A personalities. You spend most of your time thinking and planning. They test your patience, and a big key to both is controlling your emotions. It's no coincidence that Charlie Meyers and I named our book "The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing." The one key difference is that golf is all about "how many," and you aspire for fewer, and fishing is all about "how," though you aspire for more.

2. Bowling
No seriously. If you try rolling a ball down a slick lane to hit an exact spot, over and over, that has to create the type of tunnel vision that pays dividends when you cast flies. But I think they should have wind machines pushing the balls around, and the pins should move. Regardless, only rented bowling shoes trump waders for the least fashionable footwear on the planet.

3. Swimming
To appreciate the fish, you need to "be the fish" now and then. Swim a 400-meter individual medley as fast as you can, and then climb out of the pool and stick your head in a plastic bag (don't really do that). That's what I imagine a trout feels like after it's been caught, and you're holding it out of the water for the grip-n-grin. A gentle reminder for you catch-and-release practitioners.

4. Baseball
I've had the good fortune to fish with a number of major league players when they roll into town to play the Colorado Rockies. Relief pitchers always amaze me with their casting abilities. Then again, if you make a living by trying to chuck something 90 miles-an-hour at a target the size of a postcard, and whenever you miss the spot, 30,000 people stand up and boo (or cheer your failure)… well, I suppose dropping a stonefly with a gentle 40-foot flick of a fly line doesn't seem all that intimidating.

5. Hockey
Granted, it's hard to fly fish through ice, but when you think about it, hockey is a sport that involves unique motor skills, great hand-eye coordination, and above all, an innate sense of anticipating what will happen next in a fluid environment. Just like fly fishing. Make a point to watch some NHL playoff games, and take pride in the fact that as you sit on the sofa with a cold Labatt's, you're becoming a better angler by the minute.

Any other suggestions? I'll send a signed copy of the Orvis Guide to Fly FIshing for Carp to the commenter who makes the best case for a sport, other than fishing, that will undoubtedly improve your angling