Written By: Pete - Photos By: Jamie Keown
When I first really started fly fishing I spent countless hours learning and studying technique. I would watch video after video and read books about casting, mending, and identifying the correct places in the water that would hold fish. However, the one thing I never spent the time to consider or focus on was the value of confidence in fly fishing.
To many people this may sound stupid. How can one’s attitude determine one’s success and to be honest I was in that camp. I figured that if I had all of the correct techniques I would catch more fish. While that is certainly true and plays a big part of it confidence has been the one thing that has really put my ability to consistently catch fish over the top.
Let me explain that to me confidence really is a combination of focus and expectations. While I was focusing on mastering my craft I thought I wasn’t ready or able to consistently catch fish. Because of that attitude I spent many hours, days, and even probably weeks on the water thinking I wasn’t going to catch fish and therefore was not paying nearly close enough attention to the details. One of the first things that changed my mind was the consistent discussion amongst experts and guides that the average fly fisherman needed to set the hook approximately twice as many times as they do. When I first started I was a master of hooking rocks, trees, myself and nearly everything within my reach. I assumed that when the line budged or stopped for a second that I was stuck again or bumping off the bottom and it couldn’t possibly be a fish. The truth is that many of those rocks and runs where I was “getting stuck” are also the exact locations that hold fish. If you are only setting the hook on big takes you are missing a lot of fish and from my experience many of the smallest takes can be the biggest fish as well.
In closing, for me confidence is key. When you hit the water for the day set expectations high and know that you have the ability to catch fish and see what happens. The worst thing that can happen is that you are in the same boat you are now and the upside is pretty amazing. I have made many mediocre casts that have caught some of the best fish of my short career, so don’t assume you need to be an expert to enjoy fly fishing. Just get out there and work with what you have and know that at any moment that slight stop of the line could be a trophy!