Everyone wonders what it takes to become a great fly angler, and after reading a few self-help books ourselves, we realized that there are a few habits that some of the best anglers we see on the water have. Being disciplined, even just a little, can really elevate your fly fishing experience, both in the number of fish landed and how much you enjoy the time on the water. So we’re here to share a few of the insights we’ve learned from our years on the water and learning from our fly fishing mentors!
No matter where you are fishing, having good situational awareness is one of the most important habits on the water, both for your safety and maximum fishiness. If you’ve ever fished with a guide, you’ll notice their eyes are rarely locked in on one spot unless they spot a fish. Water movement, bait spooking, fishing rising/rolling are all signals that give away a fish’s presence, but if you’re not scanning the water, you’ll miss it all.
Picture this, you’re knee-deep in a creek with your fishing buddy, and the hatch of all hatches starts popping off all around you. You reach to your pack to dig out some fresh tippet and a dry fly, but you can’t find it in the mess in your bag. Meanwhile, your well-organized pal already has his fly tied on and is tight to a riser. Want to know the easiest way to avoid this situation, spend some time after every trip reorganizing your pack and fly boxes, so the next time you’re out on the water, everything is easy to access. Reorganizing your fly boxes will also key you in on what flies were working and which you need to replace, so you won’t get stuck out on the water with just one lucky fly again!
A Positive Attitude
Positivity on the water is one habit that we could all do a little better of adopting the habit in our fishing lives. It’s easy to get bummed out when you’re having to work hard to get a tug at the end of your line and give up early in the day. But someone wise once told me that, “You can’t catch a fish if you don’t have a line in the water,” and everytime I start feeling myself give up on a fishing day I remember that all it takes is one cast and one fish to plaster a smile on my face for the rest of the week. So next time you’re out there, remind yourself where you are and what you’re doing, because, at the end of the day, we’re out on the water living our best lives and pursuing what we love.
No matter where you are in your fly fishing journey, you should be aiming to learn something new or improve a skill every time you’re on the water. Maybe you want to work on a new cast or give a new style of fly fishing a try, there’s no better way to learn than just throwing yourself into it and learning along the way. As we all know, fly fishing is a neverending learning curve, and the best way to master a new skill is to practice!
Probably the toughest of the habits to adopt, patience is one of the skills that separates the best anglers from the rest. Whether its waiting on the prime tide to start coming in, or watching a trout rise for a few minutes before taking your cast, simply by waiting for the perfect shot to come to you, and not rush the process, your hook up rate and enjoyment on the water will both increase!
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!