by Mark Littleton
This fly fishing is a funny game. Every time you think you have it down, something happens to let
you know that you will never master it.
This usually happens after I’ve had a really good run. I have the right pattern and am showing up
on the river at the right time, catching fish after fish. Even the really tough fish that can rarely
be caught seem too easy.
You start to think “Yes, I am the master of the river. I have the tools and I have the skills. Bow
down to your master, my piscatorial pals.” Then it comes. The day you’ve been dreading; The day of humility. It can come in many forms:
The Gear Day : Your gear, specifically your line and tippet, are balled up in a
mess all day long. You can’t go for
more than three casts without having to take time out to untangle the mess
you’ve made, or worse cut the whole tippet off and start over. Or you are constantly hung up on a bush,
breaking off fly after precious fly and retying. This makes for a frustrating and unproductive day and worst of
all you can’t blame it on anything but yourself.
The “where did you learn to fish” day : This often
happens on the first day of a Blue Wing Olive hatch. These are tiny bugs that require a delicate cast with thin
leaders to fish in calm shallow water.
I sometimes spend the first day of this hatch slapping the water with my
casts, spooking the fish. When I
finally start to hook some of the fish, I usually break the first five or six
off setting the hook because I am not used to using such light tippets. More than any other hatch, this one tends to
impress upon you that maybe you aren’t so masterful after all.
The “what’s wrong with my fly” day - These are the days when
fish are rising everywhere, the river is virtually boiling with them, and you
can’t hook one to save your life.
Why? You know what is hatching
and you are putting the fly right on the fishes nose and can’t get a taker. This kind of day will send you back to the
drawing board designing new flies that won’t work either.
The “what’s he got that I haven’t” day : This is when
you are fishing with someone else who is catching fish like crazy while you are
getting skunked or close to it. Maybe
they are just in the right place or have a fly you don’t carry in your box, but
for whatever reason, they are outfishing you beyond all reason. This happens to me most often when I am
riding in the back of the boat and one of my regular fishing buddies is fishing
in the front. If you need a lesson in
humility, try fishing behind one of these guys when they are vacuuming the
river of all fish before the fish even get a chance to see your fly. Now that’s a chance to get up close and
personal with your insecurities about you ability as a fly fisherman.
I guess the moral to this story is that no matter how
good a fisherman you are, anybody can have a bad day. So next time you feel the hubris building up, keep in mind that
your heaping bowl of humble pie is just over the horizon