Individually as anglers I guess our skill set is simply a sum total of watching and learning from other anglers, friends and mentors then adapting it to suit our own substance and style. As we seek to learn and grow our skill set we need to fish different water, different styles and continue connecting with anglers who bring new perspective.
As an angler in the competitive fly fishing circuit, I have fortunately been exposed to so many new learnings, amazing anglers and unique situations. These have all opened my eyes to how much and how fast I can grow and continue to grow as an angler.
There are so many teachings/learnings, though through this time on the water a few things have notably stuck out to me. Looking back realising these have only been influenced by competition exposure. These few learnings have ever so wonderfully crossed over into my recreational time on the water. First up...
Going Through The Motions, Tactical Thinking On The Water
Within competition time, every choice and decision affects the outcome of team or individual success one way or the other. It happens to all of us even at the best of times, but slipping into that zone of ‘going through the motions’ is often hugely detrimental to a competitive angler. Often we fall into this zone when things aren't going our way, either were struggling to get onto the fish or mentally we are not focused. Consistently the anglers who can pull themselves out of this bad place and keep making decisions whether they are going well or not so well are the ones that simply do better. Personally, I've found my competition mindset to be at its best when I'm thinking things like this:
• Is what I'm doing going to contribute to a winning a session?’
• Could I improve what I'm doing right now even if I feel like I'm killing it?
• Is my drift, leader length, tippet choice, fly choice, presentation angle or tactical move the best I can make right now or could it be even better?
• Am I putting 101% percent effort and confidence into every cast/presentation?
• That fish just refused my fly so don't just slap in again. I need to stop, evaluate and make a change!
Put simply, when we get stuck with going through the motions we aren't thinking these things.
In competition time it is super critical to think like this to achieve any degree of success. As a result, this thought process is hard wired into my angler brain - even in recreational time on the water, and it’s helped me in more ways than one. Recreationally now, I still think through those same processes whether it’s on a stunning salt flat or a techy spring creek this hard wiring helps me figure out those rhymes, riddles and get things dialled-in at a much faster rate - all as a result of my competitive exposure and hard wiring, willing to tactically change the variables up and the mental awareness to stay away from the deadly zone of ‘going through the motions’.
Kit I Couldn’t Live Without:
Just like a builders apron, my Simms G3 vest is the one piece of kit that I feel confident with tackling any situation on the water. Five C&F fly boxes through to more dry fly floatants and line greasers you can through a stick at it, she’s my do it all second skin!