Updated: Sep 17, 2020
In the last couple of years I have been challenging myself to really make a concerted effort to improve my fly fishing. Right now I have no reason for this effort but for now I feel like it will help increase the quality of my fishing time as well has be a useful resource to other anglers that might need the help. Through this effort I have realized that any angler, fly or spinning, should make the same effort to do so. Here are four tips that will help improve your fishing, or help you find ways to improve your fishing.
Read, Watch, and Replicate
When I first started devoting a lot of my time towards improving my fly fishing, one of the first resources I used was the internet. The internet has many different free and open resources from videos to books to online forums. The option I started with were videos. YouTube has a treasure trove of of content when it comes to fishing. I actually got started bass fishing when when I was younger. I learned all I needed from different YouTube Channels. It is a free resource that has pretty much all answers to how to get started, how to improve techniques, and even how to get started tournament fishing. It is undeniable what YouTube has to offer the modern day angler. The key is taking advantage of it and using it to help improve your fishing.
In fact a lot of the videos I have watched have led me to books on the subject of fishing. One of the first fishing books I got was a gift from my wife. She must have realized that I caught the fishing bug. The book covered topics related to spin fishing and fly fishing. I remember staying up late reading different techniques and lures that could be used to catch fish in different waters and conditions. I also remember coming home after being skunked and opening up that book to see what I could change or improve upon. I still have that book and still use it. My point on books is that they are a resource that can continually give and help out in different stages of your fishing growth. You can check your local library, Barnes and Noble, I have even found some gems at second hand stores.
After watching and reading about fishing it is time to replicate it, or act. I mean this is the best part, right? This is why you have been researching different techniques and lures. It is time to put what you have learned to use. When I bought my first spinning rod I rigged it up with a small hook free lure and practiced casting in my backyard. I would choose a spot and try and cast as close to that spot as I could. People usually like to use hula hoops for this drill. I didn't have any at the time. I did the same thing when it came to learning to cast with fly fishing. I read about the casting techniques, I watched some instruction videos multiple times, and then tied on some yarn on the end of my line and practiced. When I got comfortable I would go to a local fishery where I knew it had a lot of open space and I would practice my cast in the water, not worrying if I was going to catch anything or not. Take what you are learning and act. The time you spend learning is wasted if you do not do anything with that knowledge you have just gained.
Now considering what is currently going on around the world with the virus, classes are a little harder to go to right now. When things get rolling again, classes are going on here in my area and i am stoked, take full advantage of them. These classes are usually put on by your local fishing shops, outfitters, or local guide companies. They have well experienced instructors that sometimes donate their time to help teach aspiring anglers or the well experienced. It is a very valuable resource that if taken advantage of will help you improve your fishing on many levels. One of the first classes I went was a casting instruction class for fly fishing. The teacher had been guiding for over twenty years and was full of advice and knowledge. I tried my best to pick his brain to get as much info and advice from him in that short one hour class. The class itself was put on by the local fly shop and only cost five bucks plus a tip if you want to show the teacher your appreciation for his time and knowledge.
If your local shops or outfitters are not hosting or do not have any knowledge of any local classes try online forums or a local Facebook fishing page. There might be people willing to help you out in either finding one or going out on the water with you to help you out. Just be safe obviously and smart about it. One of the best ways I learned a new technique in fishing was being shown by someone who contacted me through social media. I appreciate that time and effort he made to help me learn. That time was a launching point for me furthering my confidence and knowledge in fly fishing.
Start a Fishing Journal
A fishing journal is something that you write in at the end of a fishing trip or on the river. It does not have to be a detailed novel of what your trip was like and what you used. But if that is what you like then by all means go ahead. I guess what I am trying to say is that it can be as detailed or basic as you want. You can use it to take notes and help you look back on the last fishing experiences you had to see what you were doing right or what you could be improving or changing up.
I personally like to keep my journal simple. No longer than one page in a spiral bound notebook. I take it with me but rarely use it on the river. I do not usually right in it after every trip but I honestly should be. I usually make note of the weather and water temp, what the fish are doing at the time I arrive and through out the day. I write down my fishing goals for the day as well. I make note what flies or lures were catching fish and what things I may have changed to when the bite started to go down as the day went on. I usually reflect back on the journal later see if I met my goals and make new ones before going out again.
Having a fishing journal has helped me find flaws in my thinking and fishing. It has helped me realize when I and doing something right and most of all it has helped my mindset on the water. Thereby improving my quality of time on the water. It has been a very useful tool to helping me improve my fishing.
And finally, as mentioned before I make goals before I go fishing and write them down in my Journal. Having a purpose when going out on the river makes the fishing trip that much more worth it. I admit that there are days that just being out on the water without having anything to worry about is much needed at times, especially right now. Fishing is medicine for many and to some people they might think having a purpose to go out defeats the purpose of going out. I can understand and respect that logic. But hear me out.
When I say goals I am talking about mindset and improving yourself. These goals can be techniques or it can be to finally fish the areas of water you have been wanting to fish for who knows how long. The goals can literally be anything. My goals have ranged from learning a new way to cast to making a goal of just enjoying myself no matter what. That last one was hard to do because it happened to be the same day my rod broke. It was really hard to make that goal but I feel did it. You will find that as you reach and achieve these realistic goals your fishing will improve along with your mood and confidence. That is what the endgame is with making goals. It is to help build your confidence and trust in your ability to do what you love and want to do.
My final thoughts
An angler does not achieve a final state of expertise. When you see your favorite start athletes and their raw talent, you are seeing the results of hours of practice, planning, and having a goal oriented mindset. It is a constant life long challenge to improve your fishing and skills to help you feel more well rounded as an angler and to enjoy your time on the water more. Some of these ways of improving your fishing include challenging yourself with goals and making notes to keep track of your progress with a fishing journal. It also means taking advantage of resources on the internet and through local classes. These are only a few ways that I have found that have helped me improve my own fishing. You will find that as you adopt these ideas and other ideas that you come up with along the way, you will see your skills improve and your quality of time deepen.
If you have any questions or suggestions I would love to hear them. Feel free to contact me.