Make the Most Out of What You Have
Let’s play “make believe.” Let’s pretend that you’ve just spent several hours in the great outdoors with a few of your favorite like-minded friends. Let’s pretend their names are Mike, Chris, and John. Y’all have just sat down at a round table near a full-length window with an amazing view. Right on time - and just in time - the server arrives with a welcomed, and longed-for, ice cold brew in a frosty frozen mug. Yum! In eager anticipation, the group hoists their frosted mugs to knock back the first gulp of refreshing swill. Suddenly, Mike breaks the silence!
A raucous laughter erupts as frosty mugs are hoisted once again.
Similar conversations are not uncommon. They happen all around the country and almost every weekend. But, what are they actually talking about? Is it golf? Or, is it fly fishing? Is it a new driver? Or, is it a new fly rod? In reality, it’s difficult to tell. So, how can we know?
We can know by their attire and their location.
If everyone at the table is wearing polo shirts, khaki pants and ankle socks while sitting at the “19th Hole” – it’s golf.
If everyone at the table is wearing a Buffs, Simms shirts, fleece jackets, Prana pants, and wool socks while sitting in a lodge on the banks of the Henrys Fork – it’s fly fishing.
Very different sport; very different attire; very different location; and yet, the same conversation. So, why are those conversations so similar when everything else is so different? They’re both looking for a shortcut to enhance their performance…they’re both hoping to buy a better game!
To provide some authenticity, please indulge a little history. When I was young the only people I knew who played golf were the rich folks who belonged to the Country Club. Well, that wasn’t me. We were poor. So, I fished. I fished a lot. When I was 13, I saved the money I earned from mowing lawns to buy the cheapest fly rod/reel combo I could find – $35, all-in! Armed with that fly rod and a few popping bugs, there wasn’t a farm pond within walking distance that was safe. I fished everywhere I could, and several places I couldn’t – as long as I didn’t get caught!
I was a fly fisherman.
My introduction to golf came in my senior year of college. It was an interesting game and I was told that it could help in business. So, I played.
I was a fly fisherman that played golf.
It’s interesting how life circumstances can change one’s perspective. My second daughter, my fishing buddy, came home from school one day and said with a proud smile, “I signed-up for the golf team.” Uh, oh! My perspective changed when she became really serious about golf and got really good – not just a little good, but really, really good. Good enough to secure a full ride scholarship at a D1 University. Good enough to secure sponsorships and play professionally. There’s something special about being “on the bag” for your daughter during a big tournament. She was the boss. I was her caddie. It doesn’t get much better. But, I digress and something just welled-up in my eye. Moving along…
I was a golfer that fly fished.
My daughter still plays golf, but not competitively. She and her husband own a farming and ranching operation. Life’s circumstances changed, again.
Now, I’m a fly fisherman that used to play golf.
Although I no longer play golf – well, at least not much – I still remember the mechanics of the swing and the discipline required to be good. So, being a fly fisherman that played golf relatively well, I find many similarities between these disparate sports. Just like our pretend conversation, many folks in both sports are hoping to buy a better game.
Let’s go back to our pretend conversation. The conversation is about golf. Let’s pretend that Mike’s wife consents and she lets him buy the driver – the ‘NX Gen 8500 with the latest in technological advancements’. Mike pays $799 - $899 less the $100 discount for signing up for the free newsletter! Life is good – Mike’s got a new driver, complete with a free newsletter.
However, things aren’t quite as good as they seem. You see, before purchasing the ‘NX Gen 8500 with the latest in technological advancements’, Mike struggled to break 100 for 18 holes. After purchasing the ‘NX Gen 8500 with the latest in technological advancements’ for $799 - $899 less the $100 discount for signing up for the free newsletter – Mike still struggles to break 100 for 18 holes. This alleged “rocket launcher” falls flat! Why? Because the same improper swing mechanics Mike owned before his purchase are the same improper swing mechanics he still owns after his purchase. At the risk of offending the PC Police, there is an old axiom in golf that goes like this:
“It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.”
Now, let’s go back to our pretend conversation. This time the conversation is about a fly rod. Let’s pretend that Mike’s wife consents and she lets him buy the new fly rod – the ‘NX Gen 8500 with the latest in technological advancements’. Mike pays $799 - $899 less the $100 discount for signing up for the free newsletter! Life is good – Mike’s got a new fly rod, complete with a free newsletter.
Again, things aren’t quite as good as they seem. Before purchasing his new fly rod, Mike struggled to cast more than 50 feet. After the purchase of his new fly rod, Mike still struggles to cast further than 50 feet. This alleged “rocket launcher” also falls flat! Why? You guessed it! The same improper casting mechanics Mike owned before his purchase are the same improper casting mechanics he still owns after his purchase. Again,
“It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian.”
Get the Most Out of What you Have
In his outstanding book, Dynamic Nymphing, George Daniels states that “great equipment won’t make you a great angler.” Full disclosure: I love good equipment and I believe you should own the best gear you can afford. But, you shouldn’t rely on high-end equipment to make you a better angler. Daniels adds, “[i]f you want to be a great angler, focus on how to use the equipment you have.”
When you’re fishing your local water, take a moment to watch other anglers. Does their cast look easy and fluid, or does it appear forced and burdensome? Does their cast froth the surrounding water like a cappuccino machine on steroids?
Now, ask a trusted friend to take a moment to watch your cast. What do you think he will see?
The most expensive rod available will not improve poor casting mechanics. Seek help. Practice what you are taught. Get the most out of what you have.
It’s easy to covet the next new “shiny object.” And, there are always a lot of new shiny objects vying for the fly angler’s attention and their dollars. The marketing departments for the major manufacturers will ensure that there are plenty of new shiny objects that you can’t live without. However, avoid that temptation and get the most out of what you have. Don’t allow the unreal expectations that the ‘NX Gen 8500 with the latest in technological advancements’ somehow magically improve your angling game and leave you $799 poorer. You don’t have to try to buy a better fly angling game.
There is good news! There is help. Native Waters Outfitters is eager and willing to help improve your fly angling skills. Feel free to email, or call, and our staff of professional fly anglers are ready to help make the most out of what you have.
Native Waters Outfitters
Stephen on the Fly