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    Scotty MacFly

    I thought the Drift would be the appropriate area for this, since it hasn’t anything to really do with any other category.

    I don’t know the age of any of you, or how long you have been fly fishing, but many times I have had this thought; with all the years of experience I’m sure you have and all the years fishing, have any of you said to yourself that you wished you knew everything about fly fishing just to take the guess work out of it, or would you still want to be learning after all these years?

    For me, at times I wish I knew, so that way I can just go fish and have it all figured out. That way I wouldn’t waste time trying to figure it out. But it’s not really wasting time because it’s getting me closer to not knowing all, but knowing more. So I step back and realize that still learning is and will always be part of the enjoyment. And will anyone ever have it completely figured out? It takes awhile finding the right fly line that works best for your rod, and type of leaders to use. Not to mention the saying match the hatch. But there’s also the aspect of weather, and how it effects the fish. Seasons, water level, water type whether it be riffles, runs and pools, or lakes. The list just goes on and on.

    I know I’ll never even scratch the surface of it all, so I’ll have to keep on learning.



    Your post reminded me of the old story (wish I could remember the author) of an angler who dies and when he comes to, he’s on a beautiful stream with no bugs, clear skies, perfect temperature, great hatch. Heaven for an angler. He ties on just the right fly and casts to a rising trout an easy cast away. He hooks it and releases it: a perfect 2 lb fish. Immediately, he sees another trout rising, casts to it, takes it, plays it beautifully, and releases another 2 lb fish. No sooner is this done than he sees yet another. After a couple of hours of this, in the boredom and predictability of it all, he realizes he has not arrived in heaven, but in hell.

    I’m 63. Fly fishing since my mid 30s. Not even CLOSE to knowing much about fly fishing yet, but I love the process of learning. I’d say I learn a thing or two each time I go fishing, and most times when I talk to other anglers. Would I want to know everything about fly fishing? I think that might be a form of hell. What would be the point? The outcome would have a certain inevitability to it, in my opinion.

    One other thought: In any leisure endeavor/hobby, people find their own level of immersion; the degree to which they want to immerse themselves in the minutiae of various components of the activity. Some folks are quite happy to take a cheap rod/reel/line and a box of flies and just spend time on the stream. Some folks want to master casting and knot tying and understanding rod manufacture. Some folks want all that plus a full understanding of the hatches and aquatic invertebrate life cycles. And on and on. I would not feel confident in saying who derives the most enjoyment out of the sport, but I’m guessing there might be some surprises there. And after all, enjoyment is the main reason we do it, right?


    Dry Fly Guy

    The journey is as much (or more) fun than the destination. And truth be told… my fondest memories are for the most part when I did things “wrong”.

    ~ DFG



    brent’s story reminds me very much of my most ‘productive’ day on a trout stream. It was about 8 years ago on a familiar stretch of water that I used to fish once in a while out of convenience. It’s almost entirely nymph/streamer water, thus I don’t fish it anymore, even tho it’s pretty close to home.

    One day I ended up at a pool with a pod of very stupid trout, tossing a nymph in and hooking up with a fish about every third cast. No matter how many times I pulled a fish out and released it back in, the fish just kept eating. At first it was a lot of fun, but after about 10 times in 20 minutes the thrill was gone. I packed it up and left.

    But back to the original question.. first of all, I’ll be reaching that landmark half-century mark in a couple months and have been fly fishing for something like 17 years now. In my case it’s very true that the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know much. I kinda feel that I was better off back in my earlier ignorant years. Not that I’m all that removed from that situation. But I’m completely self-taught (and I imagine my fishing shows it). I know that I floundered around quite a bit for several years as I discovered new methods. But my enthusiasm in those days overshadowed my lack of finesse or versatility. I might have been doing things wrong, but I had enough success to put a smile on my face and come back for more. I suspect it was when I decided to improve for the sake of enhancing my results that it become more of a chore. In search of more and bigger fish, I started to analyze my skills and determine what was good and bad. Since I was self-taught, the bad generally outweighs the good.

    I’m starting to think that I need to find my way back to the place I was when I began. Not worrying about how I’m doing but rather how I feel. For that reason, I started to pare down my equipment. Too many choices usually means second-guessing what I have or how I’m using it.




    Knowing everything isn’t the problem. Trying to remember it all is the problem.


    Scotty MacFly

    I sat here and read all your responses over and over, and I see a theme.

    First, it hit me that this could be the very reason my grandfather told me to “keep it simple, and the rest will fall in place.”

    As I read everyone’s response, I see a little of me in all of you. ( don’t worry, you’ll all be fine )

    Wheezeburnt, your story reminded me of the 100 fish day I had last year. It started out really fun, I thought I had it all figured out. Then it got a little boring after awhile because I didn’t even have to think or work for a take.
    The level of immersion is where you are on a particular level at a particular time. And it doesn’t matter when or where I am fishing, I am immersed, so caught up in it nothing else matters.

    Even though the day got boring near the end, I was immersed in the fact that what ever I was doing, something was clicking.

    And being that immersed, just kept me going.

    DFG, the journey is the perfect description of it all. The things you do learn along the way from the mistakes we make. Not to mention the memories embedded in our mind and knowing I may never see those places again.

    The journey is why I keep going.

    Brett, the enthusiasm you described. You felt you were better off when you knew less because your enthusiasm overshadowed your mistakes and you, just simply put…had fun. You didn’t stop even being self taught. Ignorance is bliss.

    Yes, enthusiasm is why I keep going.

    Creek, in less than 15 words, you nailed it. Many times I have stood in the middle of a river with a total blank on my face knowing I have been in that issue before but couldn’t remember anything on what to do in that situation. The more I learn, the more I forget.

    And in that circle of confusion, I keep going.

    I have excepted long ago that I will never know half or even one fourth about this sport. And in all honesty, sometimes it bothers me that for as long as I have been fishing, why don’t I know more. I never cared for the science of it all from the weather down to the molecular structure of my leader. I got a C- in science. All I know is I love what we do, and no matter how little I know, it’s the journey, and the level of skill I am immersed in that keeps my enthusiasm for fly fishing.

    I may not remember everything, but as long as I don’t forget everything, I’m doing fine.

    Besides, I really don’t like know-it-alls.
    Stay humble my friends.



    I love Wheezeburnt’s story. That says it in a paragraph. Well done.

    Nobody will ever “have it all figured out.” And besides, what is “it” that would be all figured out? A fish a cast, in all situations? If there’s a fish in the water, you make a cast and catch the fish every time? Right. Not interested.

    This will be my 53rd season of life, 40 of them spent fly fishing in some form or another. I have not allowed life to get in the way of my fishing. I don’t have any other hobbies or interests. I’m still not even close to having figured “it” out, thankfully. I like the complex. The challenge. The thought process. The stalk. The cast. The choices. The places. I look for what we define as “diffucult” fish, or “challenging” or “selective.” Whatever the term, I want to be in a place to make certain decisions and executions in order for a trout to rise to my fly. I get pretty selective myself about the places I fish, and the methods I employ. If it were a matter of just going to the water and pulling in fish, I’d check-out.

    As for remembering, if I can’t remember an experience, it probably wasn’t worth remembering anyway. I only have so much memory, and its just filled with cool stuff. Thus, the term “memorable.”



    LOL…You’re only 53. Let’s see how you remember in 20 years.


    Dark Waters

    I will be 43 in a couple weeks. I like to think of fishing as a simple pleasure. I am obsessed with rods and actions, love to cast, even in the yard. Neighbors probably think I’m nuts casting in my driveway every other day lately.

    But I don’t get too crazy about flies, and I try to always carry less and keep things simple.. I’ve learned a lot about dry fly fishing compared to what little I knew just a few years ago but I know there is far more to learn. I’m fine with spending the rest of my life learning them. I’m happy with a few nice fish per trip, they have not come easy.

    Scotty, regarding your 100 trout in one day last year, you caught more trout in that one day than I did all year long. I think I caught 8-9 once or twice. Every other trip was less.

    I am self taught too, always had an appreciation for fly rods, going on nearly 29 years but I’ve really gotten much better over the last 7.

    Part of what I have learned, is to be happy with fewer and smaller fish. I could always pick up a spinning rod and catch more and bigger fish from a boat just minutes from home, but there is just something about standing in moving water, fishing a dry fly, that brings me back for more.


    Scotty MacFly

    DW, I agree full heartedly about just standing in a river and just taking the time and listen to it as it passes by and cast dry flies all day. It’s so relaxing.

    All these aspects or reasons every one has mentioned I can relate to, and I think I’m not alone on that idea. I struggled but worked very hard in high school and graduated, but I wasn’t college material. I have a learning disability that I have had since I was very young, and sometimes when reading some posts, I can’t even understand what the heck is being said.

    The thing is, at my age I should know more when it comes to fly fishing because I have done it long enough. As for the 100 fish day, I never could figure out what the ingredients were that caused it to happen. All I used was a Delaware Adams #16, and concentrated on my casts and retrieves. Worked hard on getting a drag free drift. Other than that I thought I was keeping it simple. Maybe the little brookies & cutthroat were just very hungry. I honestly lean to the idea the fish were hungry because I can’t explain how I had that incredible day. But like I said, it ended up beginning to get boring because I do like a challenge, but I kept fishing because I knew that it was very possible to have such a day, and I could knock that off my bucket list. I still have not had two fish at once, and I hope someday I will.

    I listen to people who do know more than me, and that’s pretty much everyone, and they will explain the set up they are using and I just have to stand back and ask myself, “what?”. Sometimes because I don’t understand, and other times I think they are over doing it. But what do I know? What I do know is I don’t have the time or the money to buy different types of fly line and study head and butt length and grain weight and blah blah blah. It would take me years to do that, and I rather spend the time fishing. You know what I mean?

    I love this sport. I’ve already told my wife if she was to die first or we ever got a divorce, I would never marry again because no other woman would let me fish as much as she does. She actually smiled at that comment. But I meant every word of it. As for keeping it simple, like Brett, that’s when I seem to always do better. I for one do not want to get so deep into the science of the sport that it’s no longer fun. Some do, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

    After listening to all of you, it seems I have joined the right forum, and it sounds as though my grandfather knew what he was talking about when he said to keep it simple. I may never be equal to you all in a educated matter, but I can relate to you all and understand why we fly fish, but just not how sometimes, ha, ha. So it’s agreed that we all like to keep it simple with enough of a challenge so it’s not easy.
    100 fish days are nice, but I don’t want to make it a habit. Give me the fast waters that people swear there isn’t any fish in there and I’ll have a great time, whether I catch a fish or not.
    I’m done blabbing.



    Nice post Scotty. Not many would be that honest about themselves. If I can ever help you with anything. Let me know.


    Scotty MacFly

    It took awhile to get over the embarrassment to let it be known. Looking at me you’d never know, but I have difficulty learning some things, but I eventually get it in time. My dad was abusive, and liked to hit me in the head when he was drinking to much. I thank God my grandparents took me in and raised me.

    Creek, you have helped me more than you’ll ever know with all the little bits of info I have gathered from you. And the rest of the gang has been just as helpful. ( I wouldn’t leave you guy’s out )
    I’m not stupid, just slow…..really. But, there are things I know very well. My biggest problem is expressing what I want to say. I get misunderstood quite often. It takes me awhile to post things, because I try to sound a certain way to not sound so, can I say dumb? I delete words to find better words because my vocabulary is limited. I really have a loss of words at times. It took me 20 min. just to type this much. Notice my sentences are short? That’s a dead give away.

    It’s ok though.



    Well, Scotty, I’d say you’re coping very well with your challenges, because I have always felt that I understood your message.
    Listening to people who you believe know more than you, and taking your time to carefully compose your posts sounds like good advice for any of us.




    I remember you asked to come to my area to fish with me. I turned you down, because I always fish alone. The one time I fished with a friend didn’t work out that well and I swore i’d never do it again.

    Well, i’d like to make an exception and fish with you. I know you like creek fishing as I do too, so we can do that. I don’t think it will be this year though. As you know I broke my back a few weeks ago and my fishing will be limited. Especially, creek fishing which is a lot of kneeling, creeping etc. Which is hard on my back. I might get to fish some small ponds this year, but that would be it. I have Osteoporosis and not only do I break bones easy, but they take a long time to heal too.
    So, maybe next year we can get together and do some fishing.


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by  Creek.

    Dark Waters

    Scotty, I always find your posts very well written.

    I do the same thing usually, the longer I write the longer it takes, considering my audience, how I want to come across, etc.

    I always wondered why you would say negative things about yourself, now I understand a little better. Seriously, if not for you sharing that, I would never know.

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