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Ronan's report

Friday 9th November, 2012

Earlier this week I was trying to retrace the steps I followed as a beginner in my pursuit to catching fish on fly. The main purpose in doing so was to assess my insecurities as a complete novice. Please believe me when I say that there were tons of these insecurities.

I was not catching fish even though I was really putting in the effort. Five days per week for an entire year; fishing in the best and worst conditions; yet, I only had four fish to show for all of this fishing time? Surely, more silly fish should have eaten my flies given all that effort! Surely I deserved a better catch rate?

So what was I doing wrong? It must most certainly be my ability and severe lack of skill? Let’s break it down an analyse this. First things first, I needed equipment. Basic stuff – rod, reel, fly line, backing, tippet, flies, stripping basket, and sunglasses. Nice to have stuff – fly box, real fishing clothing, forceps, pliers, what else was I missing???

I was advised that I should get an 8-9wt rod, matching reel, intermediate line and 20lb Dacron backing. So in theory, my equipment was fine except that I was not catching fish, so this outfit is questionable. Secondly, I needed the basic flies which I was tying myself. Perhaps just because I did not have 2 strands of crystal flash, or the right type of hackle in my deceivers, or the perfect eyes, that I could not entice the fish to eat them. Or perhaps my epoxy shrimps were just not shaped correctly. Or perhaps my home made, unpainted, hand shaped poppers did not have exactly the same action as the beautiful coloured and perfectly shaped ones from the shops. So it must be my flies!!

But, my stripping basket did not have the same line control restrainers in the bottom of it, so my basket was preventing me from catching fish. Must sort that out. I also had cheap polarised lens sunglasses. I was told that I could see fish in the water with these glasses, but I saw none. I need more expensive glasses so that I can see the fish and surely I will be able to catch them then.

But, I also need to cast a full line to be able to catch fish. For the best of times, a ten meter cast was a world record for me. Ok, so it must be my casting. I am sure that once I can cast a full line, I will surely catch fish? Oh an then, maybe I was using the wrong tippet. Or my tippet was too short – it was impossible for me to cast a tippet longer than eight feet. The fish were scared of my fly line with this short eight foot tippet.

My flies were stored in bank plastic cellophane money packets and I wore ordinary non-fishing clothes. The fish must be sensing this and are not interested.

And do on, and so on , and so on. Now I knew what I needed. I needed all the planets to be aligned and the right combination of doing the right things to be successful at catching fish. But, what was the right combination?? (You can imagine my head in my hands here, in complete confusion).

At the risk of being profound, the real factor to not catching fish was none of the insecurities above. In the (southern hemisphere) summer of 1994, the very same poppers that I was using attracted a number of fish. Wow, it actually works. I could catch fish. Surprisingly, those same stupid deceivers and epoxy shrimps also yielded fish. Wow, they actually work too! It simply came down to my lack of confidence and belief that I could actually catch something.

To shorten a long story, the simple truth of the matter is that once I had the confidence that I could catch fish with the equipment that I had and the flies that I was tying, I started to catch much more fish. In fact, lots of fish. This resulted in a wonderful affirmation which I still live by today. I can catch fish anytime and anywhere if they are there. If I do not catch anything, then the fish are not there or they are not feeding – it is certainly not my ability.

My long confidence improvement curve is most likely that same for most fly fishers, so the purpose of this article today is just to say, believe in yourself and your ability to be the most successful fly fisher on the water at the time.

Tight lines and screaming reels.

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