I’ve tried long and hard and I think there’s two key things that really sparked the lightbulb for me. The first was learning to cast properly, as in that eureka moment after thousands of hours where you realize you can make pretty much any cast without thinking about it most of the time. Ok you still screw up but 90% of the time you make the shot. That was a powerful moment and one that really transformed my fishing. If you have fishing knowledge and technique down then a shift to make your casting really good just raises the roof, especially where you’re sight fishing.
The second was two friends opening my eyes to throwing conventional wisdom out the window and fishing flies differently to how the book says you do it. Chris Dore in NZ for upstream streamer fishing, flies with a big heavy head and bunny tail are just deadly, and Jim Lees in Scotland for downstream dry fly. Both of these things are ultimately what have lead me to catch a hell of a lot more fish, try new things and really just test the rules. Because someone said 150 years ago that a dry fly is fished upstream doesn’t mean it has to or even that it is the best option.
Go forth, cast well and break those rules!