Here’s a great piece of advice from Jordan Sly, explained through two stories. Read and relax.
Take a Break!
I was out fishing the other day when I came across a guy fishing a run that was my destination. Oh well, I decided to just watch him fish through it, I feel you can always learn something if you have the right attitude.
From the beginning I knew he wasn’t very experienced with a two handed rod, but he could cast well, and was pretty consistent until he was about half way through the run. At that point he stopped progressing down and just kept trying to hit this one spot. I could tell he was getting frustrated with himself, but the longer he tried, the more his cast fell apart.
Looking at if from the outside I could tell exactly what was wrong, but I didn’t want to be the stranger that just walks up and gives advice because some people take that the wrong way, especially when I know he can cast, he was throwing a lot of line at the top of the run. So I just strike up a conversation, we start talking about the river, how the day has been, what tips we are using, what fly I have on, that kind of thing.
Pretty soon he is doing exactly what I have told friends, relatives, and students to do when I see this happen, he is taking a break. When a person reaches a certain point in their learning they have the information, they can even do it most of the time, so more information doesn’t always help, and I think it doesn’t help as much as figuring it out on your own. So instead of giving specific advice, I suggest they take a break, enjoy the river, company, environment, something else besides that bad cast that threw them off to begin with.
I decided to eat a little while taking this break with the dude, so I offer him a beer, and by the time the beer is gone I can tell he is relaxed and calmed down. I tell him to enjoy his day, and ask if he minds if I step in above him when he is done. His casting stroke went back to what it was at the top of the run, and he just bombs one across.
My grandpa gave me this advice when I was first learning how to cast at the age of 10. I had been fly fishing for about four years, and I knew how to cast, but I used to get frustrated with myself all the time, and then it just got worse. My grandpa would ask what I was doing wrong, I would tell him, and be right most of the time but it didn’t help. So eventually he stopped asking me what I was doing wrong and just started to distract me.
He would start telling me fishing stories from when he was younger, or get me to eat lunch, that kind of thing. It wasn’t until I started teaching people how to cast myself that I realized what he was doing.
When you’re learning how to cast and you make a bad cast, your worst enemy is often yourself. Often the best solution is to just take a break, relax, and get your mind off of it. Enjoy everything else around you, not just the catching of fish, it will make your experience that much better. That reminds me of the best advice I have ever heard in regards to fishing, also told to me by my grandpa…
“The fishing is always good, just sometimes the catching isn’t”.