Fly Fishing and the Space-Time Continuum

Fly Fishing and the Space-Time Continuum

Andy Dear | Sunday, 12 May 2019

Time isn't the main thing. It's the only thing.
---Miles Davis

In one of Paul's recent Facebook posts, he and another fisherman were discussing the feeling of "time slowing down" during difficult angling scenarios that require quick, accurate presentations. Although I'm not completely convinced that Paul's masterful casting ability actually allows him to rip a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum, I am convinced that through manipulation of the variables we do have control of, that we can maximize the time and space we do have.

  A few weeks ago I detailed an experience I had on the deck of Captain Rob Fordyce's skiff, fly fishing for Tarpon with my good friend "Bubba". In addition to being a world class fly angler, an expert photographer, a talented artist and a connoisseur of fine Canadian whiskey, Bubba is also one of the world's most renowned cosmetic surgeons. Among many other accomplishments related to his chosen field, Bubba has pioneered many of the preeminent advancements in cosmetic surgery techniques and their associated "hardware" over the past 30 years. As one of his colleagues once told me back in 2003 " He both literally and figuratively wrote the book on rhinoplasty 20 years ago, that is still 20 years ahead of its time today".

   When I first met Bubba back in 2002, we had a long discussion about one of his recent projects which he referred to as "time and motion studies". You see, Bubba and his team of surgeons were looking for a way to reduce not only the time his patients spent under the knife but also the amount of time it took for them to recover. To that end, they began an extremely intricate, extremely detailed study of all of their surgical procedures. Going so far as to mount multiple cameras all over the surgical room, they scrutinized EVERY piece of excruciating minutia that happened in that room during a surgical procedure. I mean EVERY move that was made, the order in which they were made, the way the instruments were laid out on the table, the manner in which they were handed from the assistant to the doctor, the way the doctors were positioned, etc....It was a very detailed study that basically cut surgery time and recovery time by as much as 40%.

   Like many, the first year or so I spent on the deck of a skiff with a fly rod was a real test. It seemed like so much had to happen correctly in such a short period of time, and much of it was affected by external variables like the wind and waves, that I simply had no control of. When Bubba told me of the success he was having in the surgery room because of his research with time and motion, it dawned on me how much this could affect the style of flats fishing Bubba and I love to do....sight fishing for wary saltwater fish in extremely shallow water where speed, accuracy, and efficiency are everything. If I prepared in such a way where ALL of the details were taken care in the most efficient and effective manner possible before the event happened, there would be a lot more TIME CREATED to do what was important...CAST, STRIP, AND CATCH.

   I began a very detailed examination of everything related to the way I was currently fishing. Everything from the effectiveness and efficiency of my castings stroke, the number of false casts I used, the way I lubricated my fly line, to the exact measurement of drag, how I placed the stripping basket, how I scanned for fish, how much line I preferred outside of the tip, right down to the exact area I stood on the deck and where I stripped the excess line to be shot on the presentation cast. Just like in Bubba's surgical room, it made a MONUMENTAL difference in the way I fished, and the success I experienced almost immediately.

  The result was that like suddenly felt like I had ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. It literally did feel like things were happening in slow motion. And like Paul, the memories I have of those fish I caught after I made those adjustments, they too feel like they're happening in slow motion.
So, is it possible to manipulate the space-time continuum with a fly rod? Not to a noticable degree, but there is absolutely a way to create time in a given space by eliminating unnecessary and inefficient movements so that time really does seem to slow down.

   Next week I'll detail the biggest adjustment I made to maximize time and space....and my guess is that its the same adjustment that Paul and many others have made as well...more to follow.

Hope you all have a great week!