This article struck a chord with me. Its well worth a read if you have the time. Its about happiness and satisfaction. About the mind, about how experiences are often so much more valuable to us than things when to comes to bringing happiness and satisfaction. Its about doing stuff, rather than buying stuff. Its about being in the moment, finding experiences that focus the mind, activities that block out distractions and make your mind wander. Being present for something. The lessons are applicable to all areas of life. For anyone reading this blog fishing is likely to be one of those things that brings you a lot of happiness and satisfaction. The experiences it brings us are we do it for, they are the reason we love the sport. Its about spending time in nature, getting outdoors as regularly as possible, spending quality time with friends and family and of course catching fish. In all fishing though there is the potential to get distracted from that by all the gear.
“If I only had a better rod/reel/fly/lure, I would catch more fish… I NEED it”.
“You need the best gear, you don’t want to lose the fish of a lifetime”
Similar sentiments to those are often felt or expressed by anglers. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE good gear, R&D is great and advances the sport. There are positives to all the gear obsession and there is definitely a nugget of truth to all the gear hype. If you are an out and out gear junkie who just loves gear, more power to you. We each enjoy the sport in different ways. In the end though, I think its the experiences that really matter.
I was first drawn to fly fishing by its simplicity. Ultimately all you really need is some rod , some line (a reel sometimes), some tippet and a few flies. That it. The essence of it is so simply. Yet there is so much gear and so much hype around it. How it will make you a better fly fisherman, improve your cast, help you catch more fish and what not. Sometimes its hard not to buy into the hype. Sometimes I think that can distract us from whats really important. The experiences. In the end you mainly become a better angler by actually getting out there and fishing. Gear can only do so much. I can go buy some paintbrushes tomorrow, it ain’t turning me into the next Picasso. A new rod wont turn you into Lefty Kreh. Don’t expect it to. The advances in R&D are great, but you also get used to them pretty quickly. Use a top of the line rod for a while and the feeling of “holy shit, I can do stuff I never imagined” disappears pretty quickly. It doesn’t last. Pretty soon its just a rod. A nice rod. But just a rod. What it does is becomes normal.
That doesn’t happen with experiences. Partly because each of them is unique. You can fish the same stream one hundred times and it will never be “the same”. Even bad experiences, experiences you wouldn’t buy in a hundred years if you knew what you were getting yourself into can become cherished memories. Many of my most cherished fishing memories, many of my best stories have come from trips like that. I still don’t have a single good fishing story about the time my new rod or reel arrived in the post. I have plenty of good stories from disastrous fishing trips. Our trip to the Daly a few years ago is the perfect example. We ended up getting stuck on a flooding Daly river. We experienced a pretty horrible night dodging trees and other debris as we sheltered from the main current in a creek. We broke one of the boats. It rained. Everything went pretty badly. By the time we got off the river all six of us were completely broken. There was no way in hell that it was fun at the time. However, looking back, I have such fond memories of that trip. I wouldn’t trade it in for the world. You can read the full story Part 1 which is “bad bits” and Part 2 which is the “good” bits here.
The point I am getting at is that if you like fishing, the aim should be to have new experiences and new adventures. The aim is to get out there and do things, have successes and failures, spend time with friends and family, meet new people. I don’t care how you chose to do that, whether all you do is fish for carp in a canal near the CBD with a $1500 outfit, whether you chose to go on multi day adventures to far flung places in long forgotten corners of the world or whether you simply sneak out for a few stolen moments whenever you can on family holidays using a 1950s outfit you got from your grandfather. Its all fly fishing. We each have our own motivations and constraints. Its meant to be fun. Enjoy it however the hell you want to. If you can afford great gear, awesome. If you can’t, don’t worry about it. Just get out there and do it. There is no right or wrong way to be a fly fisherman. There is no rule book. Find something that works for you and get out there.
And if you lose the fish of a lifetime on a cheap ebay reel that carks it in the middle of a fight because you listened to this “advice”, at least it will make a half decent story.