Thursday, September 22, 2016

An Anglers Evolution

"Information is not knowledge. 
The only source of knowledge is experience."   
-Author Unknown (though commonly attributed to Albert Einstein)

The internet never forgets. We cannot put something on the web without creating some kind of digital footprint. Even deleted material may not really be gone. Blogs are not immune to the idea. This means that a simple internet search can drum up a very old post. With a blog like this, one of the biggest problems is that an old post shows very little about the progression of the angler. To be quite honest, I get bored doing things the same way for very long. I can't even tie more than two of the same exact fly in one sitting. With the impulse for growth and creativity I really have to fight the temptation to edit older posts to reflect my current views. I rarely do it, and I think it is important to avoid doing so. There are a few reasons I leave the old posts alone. Ultimately, this is a personal blog, a journal of sorts, and each post tells me far more about myself than most people care to give any thought to. Reading back through past posts, some make me smile, some make me reconsider a technique, some cause me to think of something new, and some cause me to cringe a bit in embarrassment. It's a labor of love... for the sport, for creativity, and for connection. And, it is always evolving, just like my views, my techniques, and my priorities.

No angler is immune to the evolution, as long as they keep with the sport. We all meander through different stages (some interesting ideas on the stages of angling here, here, and here too) and grow through the process. Personally, I feel my techniques are often changing (some more drastic than others), my theories on trout behavior are not bound, and my goals are anything but static. What worries me, is that those who stop by this little corner of the web may not take the time to understand what they are seeing, but rather take a single page for the whole of who it represents. Just because I once fished a certain way does not mean I still do. Maybe the idea shouldn't matter, but for some reason, I feel it does. Don't we all want to be able to change? To have the freedom to do so? Sometimes it is hard, because the internet (and sometimes people) never forget. (This is not directed at a person, just a general sentiment and idea.) If there's a deeper meaning to this, that is up to the reader, but one thing I do know, I am not the same angler I was last year. And I sure hope I'm not the same in another year. I hope to be better. A better person. A better caster. A better father. A better husband. And a better friend. An anglers evolution matters, and there's a whole lot more to an angler than fish. I'm grateful for new friends, and old. I'm grateful for the good times, and those that are yet to come. I'm grateful I can look back on bad experiences and say that most have been turned into positive relationships and situations.

Will I still be mousing at night in a couple years? Who knows. Will I be fishing more or less? Who knows. One thing is for certain though, I will still be fishing, things will be different, and that's okay.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tips: Feed The Mend

Water is filled with power. Immense potential just waiting to get the kinetic party started. To be frank, it scares me. It always has, despite my love of being around it, and has created a healthy respect. Sometimes the power is hard to see, especially on calm waters. But, try forcing that water through unyielding canyon walls or down into cascading craggy pockets. The frothing foam begins to resemble the seething slobber of an angry pitbull.

Physics makes a better friend than enemy. We fishermen deal with physics on a regular basis, even if we aren't aware of it. Forces and energy are always at work, heeded or not. Setting the hook too abruptly can rip the hook from a fish's mouth. Not setting hard enough won't transfer enough force to drive the hook into place. Pulling too hard can break tippets, bend hooks, and even snap rods. Wading upriver against the force of the water is a chore, if not impossible in some situations. Learning to befriend and work with the physics at work is a great way to become a better angler. Understanding the mechanics of casting, setting the hook, and using the rod to fight the fish will result in saved gear and more fish landed.

So much of fly fishing is conceptualization. Often artists picture an image in their mind before even taking a single brush stroke. On top of that, learning to use their brushes allows them to better bring their mental creations into existence.

Casting, mending, setting the hook, and fighting fish are only few aspects of our art, but visualizing the underlying mechanics and then learning to work with them adds to the result and beauty of the whole experience.

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. If that is the case, there are a lot of insane fishermen out there. The problem is, we learn by trial and error. Unfortunately, it is easy to develop a "working" technique that does enough to catch some fish, which causes us to become complacent and unwilling to stretch. It always comes back to the 80/20 (80% of the fish are caught by 20% of the anglers).  The real satisfaction comes when we work for it, and that means practice and trying to understand the underlying theory. This doesn't mean we have to go fishing all the time. It just means that we explore and improve in the time we have. Who knows, you might find yourself catching more and better fish because of it.


Feed the Mend
Casting is hungry work. What better way to satiate that hunger than to feed the mend. Mending is part of the casting process, often done just after the initial cast, but other times done simultaneously. The idea is to keep the fly in the optimal zone as long as possible once the cast places it there. Mending prolongs the presentation. It takes practice and can be quite frustrating at times. Different lines and rods mend differently. Wind or fast moving water can add to the struggle.

There may be a more technical or regularly used term for this tip, but since I learned the principle through experience I will refer to it as "feeding the mend." This applies to the mend that is done post initial cast.

Picture yourself having just made a diagonal cast upstream to begin the drift. A second after the current grabs the line and begins hustling it down river is when most guys throw in a first mend. Once the line is straight in front of the angler or just a bit downriver from him is when the second mend is often placed. In both instances, a common problem we run into is that by mending the fly/indicator/line is pulled from it's prime landing spot. So how to fix this? Feed the mend.

It's a simple trick really, and maybe most people do it already, but I was slow to catch on. The idea is that as the line is pulled up and rolled over for the mend, you let some additional line out. It has to happen as the mend is occurring though, mid-mend if you will.  This will allow the mend to occur by taking line from you, rather than pulling the fly-tipped end back and out of the zone.  I usually let my line go as I mend so it can take as much as it needs.  The extra line you let out can quickly be recovered as the drift continues, allowing you to retain your hook-setablity.  Applying this simple little tip will let your nymph or dry or even swung streamer to stay in place far longer, which will result in more hookups. It takes practice, but is well worth the effort. Give it a try.