I just got back from a great fishing trip to Mammoth Lakes on the other side of the Sierra. We went flyfishing in the Owens River and at Crowley Lake. It was a humbling experience.
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We all have this incredible picture of an angler in waders standing knee-deep in a stream, slowly whipping a long and graceful arc of a flyline back and forth to place that little fly right where he wants it. It looks so effortless and beautiful. In fact, it looks downright easy! Funny, most things done well look that way to those who have never done it. Our tendency is to discount it. It makes us feel better.
Yep, I’ll confess it now: I’m a flycasting reject – at least that’s the way I felt after trying to execute some basic casts. I actually tried to do a cross-body cast in a 15 mph wind on a small stream just like the instructor had shown me. The small fly seemed to pause in the air as I whipped it, then it dove for my body. Something wasn’t right?
I looked down and there, buried in the third knuckle of my left hand, was the little midge! Shocked, I realized it was in all the way to its tiny shank. I pulled on it trying to get it out before the instructor came back and found the so-called “fishing guide” impaled. I hadn’t realized it was the barbless season, but when I pulled the fly out of the meat, barbless seemed like a great idea! Never told the instructor that I prefer to share my abject failures with more sympathetic people. It had all looked so easy!
So what lesson jumped out at me from this humbling experience? Well, it was obvious that there is a big difference between “knowing” about how to do something and the actual performance and wisdom it takes to execute and do it well.
In our world of instant Google input, there are many anglers who have impressive encyclopedic knowledge of fishing. You can discuss the latest techniques and lures with them, but when I go further I find that they have done very little “doing.” They are more concerned about gathering “knowledge” than they are about proficiently applying it.
Our reliance on the internet and instant information creates a mental trap. it can cause us to become lazy, letting others do the work while we try to skip ahead and get the end product and result we are wanting. I see anglers who actually believe that just reading an article on the newest breakthrough qualifies them to be an “expert” on the subject, as well. It certainly feeds the ego to believe that.
It’s easy to confuse “knowing” about something with doing the work and developing the actual skills needed to practically apply that knowledge. The little hole in my hand reminds me I need more practice! Work hard, listen, learn and stay humble.
Never give up!