I wish I could trick fish like Reed Barrett fools me.

I’d just given a talk to the Curt Gowdy TU chapter in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and I headed into the historic Plains Hotel for a nightcap. I struck up a conversation with the barkeeper, who turned out to be man of many talents Reed Barrett. You see, Reed is a master at the slight of hand. A recent college grad, he performs in Vegas from time to time, and mark my words, is going to be a star. What you are about to see here is one 100th of the wizardry I saw that night. It was astounding.

I didn’t ask him to divulge secrets (not that he would), but I did get him to answer how much of this revolves around physical dexterity, and how much is a “system.” He says it’s almost all self-taught, self-trained (over many years) hand skills. In other words, you just can’t pick up a manual, follow the steps, and perform like this.

Which got me thinking back to fly fishing. As a guy who writes some of those “manuals” for fly fishing, I’ll admit that the real magic really comes from training your eyes, and hands, and practicing. Remember, the amateur practices to the point of being able to do something. The pro, like Reed, practices to the point that they can do something flawlessly, every time, without risk of failure.

Enjoy the show.