Halford. Skues. Sawyer. Goddard. Clarke. Krieger. Fraser. Cove. Marinaro. Ogborne. Borger. Gawesworth.
All of them fly fishers who have taken it to (or still are taking it to) the next level; carrying us along with them. Tackle may be marching forward as technology advances but without these movers & shakers there is no doubt that the fly fishing scene would be a very different world indeed.
What makes these guys special is that they decided to think out of the box, challenge previous theory and in many cases create a new style or technique all of their own. Check out an average fly fishing library and I place a firm bet that some if not all of the above take their well thumbed place. If you haven’t marvelled at Marinaros rise forms, Coves way with Trout or Gawesworths brilliant approach to casting, I urge you to take a look. Their lessons can (will) help you reach the next level.
But beware that this is one game that we can never win. Unlike those infernal computer games, there is no big boss at the end of a level to defeat. Just more levels. Endless levels. The day we think that we have reached the top is the exact moment when we will start to fall. Now we are just going through the motions, practising the same techniques and asking no more questions. We have stopped learning and stopped challenging ourselves. I have met anglers who think they have been there, done that and got the fishing waistcoat to prove it. More often than not they are not movers & shakers.
These paragraphs were inspired by a blog post I read last week. From the keyboard of Kent Klewein, it was a line towards the end of his post which set me thinking about the whole idea of stepping out of my own fly fishing comfort zone. Kent, a guide by trade, pledged to take his fly fishing to the next level in 2014. Is there a better resolution than that?
What an exciting prospect to meet the challenges which hide beneath the waters surface this season. Leave behind the shoal of small Grayling sucking down every fly going and concentrate on a specimen not so easily fooled. Spend 2 hours trying to outwit the wiliest Trout in a pool. Improve casting accuracy. Learn how to control a loop more efficiently. Identify and match the hatch more consistently. Become patient enough to realise that an ultra slow figure 8 retrieve is just that; pretty much static. There are easily 52 (infinite) more skills, techniques, strategies & observations that could be added to this list and here we are already, heading into week 4. Roll on the season, I want to get started.
Of course trying to work on so many aspects of our fly fishing all at once is a bad idea. Better to concentrate on one or two things, hone them, enjoy the success that will no doubt follow and be ready to keep on practising them. The more I think about it, the more I love this idea of searching for the next level. I guess we all do it unwittingly by the very act of going fishing but then it is so easy to just go through the motions. I manage a small stillwater fishery so I see this all the time.
What have I decided to concentrate on this year? Travelling. Further afield for Steelhead is in the pipeline and I am keeping a close eye on Spain, but within an hour of my front door is some of the most diverse fishing in the UK and yet I barely scratch the surface. Add another hour to that and the possibilities are actually mind blowing. Specimen Pike on Chew, huge Salmon on the Wye and the big ladies of the Frome spring to mind. But what else is out there and how could I approach my local venues with more success? Should I always fish that pool with this nymph or is there another level to hop up to? Definitely.
What are you going to change this season & how will you reach for the next level? For some inspiration check out Kents brilliant post on his Gink & Gasoline Blog