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Fly Fishing and Frustration

2007/6/19 10:25
Posts: 0
From my article this week:

Fly fishing is filled with times of frustration: getting rained out on the stream, losing a fly in a low hanging branch, being unable to thread your thin tippet line through the hole of a tiny little hook because your hands are too cold. One time I drove an hour from home to fish a new river. When I opened the trunk to put on my gear, I discovered that I had left my fly fishing rod at home. I had my vest and my net, but no rod. I sat by the car and called myself an idiot repeatedly.

Perhaps the ultimate frustration of fly fishing is not catching any fish. Sometimes no matter how advanced your casting skills, or how perfectly tied your flies, the fish simply will not rise. Trout are picky. And the task we set before ourselves is difficult: to attract a fish to bite a hook wrapped in thread and wool.

When I am on the river, and nothing is happening, no matter what fly I use or where I cast, I get frustrated. I try to rationalize the situation. I say to myself: “I’ll just use this time to practice my casting.” That usually does not work for long. The sport is called fly fishing, not fly casting.

Over the years, I realized that frustration from not catching fish usually has to do with expectations. As my skills developed and my casting improved and I could catch many more fish in an afternoon, my expectations began to rise. Today, a few hours on the stream that do not yield a single bite might cause some serious frustration.

But expectations on the fly fishing stream are probably a waste of time. Not too long ago, someone asked me for the most important tip in fly fishing. I said to him: “Be sure to look up from the river every once in a while, take a breath of air, hear the soft sound of the flowing water, and appreciate the beauty of all that surrounds you.” In fly fishing, when I expect to catch trout, I am guaranteed to be frustrated sometimes. When I expect to be out in nature, to soak in the solitude of the stream and to leave behind the stress of the world, I find fulfillment. An afternoon of fly fishing always provides me with solace and a sense of peace.

I may still get frustrated when not a single fish rises. When that happens, I will try to remember the time I went fly fishing and left my rod behind. After I discovered that I could not fish, I decided to go hiking along the stream. I saw deer and ducks. I got stuck in “sinking mud,” almost becoming a permanent resident of the stream. I spent time outside, in nature, and I was able to look around, to relax and to appreciate the beauty of our world. And I learned that sometimes you do not need a rod and reel to have a great fly fishing trip.

Posted on: 2007/6/27 20:26
The Fly Fishing Rabbi, Eric Eisenkramer

Re: Fly Fishing and Frustration

2006/9/9 17:18
From lancaster county
Posts: 1190
well siad my friend and very good advice. expectations is why people get frustrated and the more experince an angler has....the more frustrating a fishless day can be. we must always remember to appreciate the nature and world around us. it is one of the best parts of flyfishing. and also try to remember this, sometimes the trout wont give in to our tactics. sometimes they are going to either refuse or out-smart you. it is in thier nature to be picky. i find beauty in that and that is why our sport is a skill. sometimes i love it when those buggers beat me. "your only as good as the opponents that you have faced" remember that. frustrating trout can make u a better angler.

Posted on: 2007/6/27 20:37

Re: Fly Fishing and Frustration

2007/3/26 22:22
Posts: 10
It's supposed to be a 'relaxing' hobby that takes place in wonderful settings. Sometimes it's frustrating or disappointing. That's the nature of the beast. You could be doing things that are a lot worse. If the fishing is not up to snuff, try to enjoy your surroundings.

You can have the best gear, be a super caster and have beautiful flies only to end up fishless. The guy next to you has out-dated stuff and can't keep them off the hook. There's much to be said about observing the stream, insects, rise forms, currents and putting yourself into a good position before making a cast. You can have the wrong fly and make a marginal cast but if you drift it properly, the fish will respond. Example: my buddy from DC and I were fishing the Tully last July. He's catching fish hand over fist. I walked up to see what he was using... A HENDRICKSON THORAX!! Figure that one out ?!?!?

Posted on: 2007/6/28 1:39

Re: Fly Fishing and Frustration

2006/12/13 9:28
From Other side of the tracks
Posts: 4063
I've had plenty of days were I was skunked or nearly skunked on a trout stream, but i don't recall ever being truely disappointed. Now if you want to talk frustrating and disappointment, remember the old saying: "A bad day on the water is better than any good day at work."

Posted on: 2007/6/28 5:57
Hank Patterson for President.

Re: Fly Fishing and Frustration

2006/9/28 14:40
From Philadelphia
Posts: 11
Good posts! I think the only thing I expect when I head out for a stream is to enjoy being in the experience. I hope that doesn't sound pretentious, but I honestly agree with John Gierach who wrote that catching fish may be the goal but it isn't the objective.

Posted on: 2007/6/28 8:55

Re: Fly Fishing and Frustration

2007/5/10 14:53
From Carlisle
Posts: 0
Well put guys! I think as I've made the transition from being in school and fishing 150+ days a year to the work world and fishing 75 or so days a year I've become more appreciative of my time and less worried about catching as many trout as I can. This year I'm having one of my lowest totalwise years in 9 years and I could really care less because I've explored new waters, found waters that were just gorgeous and I've caught some nice trout along the way but when I look back at it I've fished less than half of what I did last year at this point and to me the best memories really didn't even involve the fish themselves. Id say my most fond moment was fishing in the middle of nowhere one day and spotting a bear, deer, and turkey all in the same trip. It was a somewhat frustrating fishing day because I couldnt approach the fish right because of low clear conditions but I did manage two really nice wild browns, but the main thing was it was a day off work in the wild and enjoying my surroundings.

Posted on: 2007/6/28 9:48

Re: Fly Fishing and Frustration

2006/9/9 16:33
Posts: 33
Thats why I like going on the Tenessee trip. The fish are not big but you are in a beautiful place with a great bunch of guys. Fishing is just the reson to be there.

Posted on: 2007/6/29 21:49

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