Ruts and Surprises

Ruts and Surprises

Carol Northcut | Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Despite wanting to live here for 30 years and trying to move 12 years ago and again 5 years ago, the timing was never right. Finally, we felt like the only way to get it done was just to do it, to force it. This time everything fell into place. One of the reasons we moved to Montana was to shake things up. We’d been fishing the same places for 17 years. We were in a rut and needed a change.

It seems that we humans have a tendency to get into ruts.

There’s a saying “You’re so comfortable in your rut that you’ve furnished it.” Another is, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Still another is “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”  And then there’s the famous definition of insanity “Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” It’s as though our species is attracted to ruts of various kinds and doesn’t particularly like surprises.

My husband and I are in the rut of indicator nymph fishing. Because it’s comfortable, it’s the default. It takes energy and time to learn and become proficient at other techniques, like swinging wets. I’m trying to force myself out of the indi-nymphing rut but feel unproductive and uncomfortable when I do. Isn’t it the same with teaching fly casting? We can get into a familiar rut, teaching the same thing the same way because it’s comfortable, not because it’s the best way to do it. Or perhaps it’s because we don’t know another way?

There’s been discussion amongst some of the members of Sexyloops (and elsewhere) to shake up the teaching/coaching game, to expand our thinking about it, and to add tools to our toolbox. To grow, we have to be willing to take a good look at new ideas and be willing to be uncomfortable for a while. If we don’t, we’re just furnishing the teaching/coaching rut with old, worn furniture that’s possibly outdated at best, broken at worst.

Frankly, I’m too new at the teaching game to have a rut, but I have others that I have to force myself out of. For instance, I’ve had the cyclo-computer on my bike set to miles instead of km. My entire life I’ve referred to distance in miles. I’ve never bothered becoming comfortable with km. A couple of months ago, I accidentally set the cyclo-computer to km after changing the battery. I’ve left it on that setting to force myself to become comfortable using km.  

Something else I did, just today. I went for a ride in the chilly drizzle for a little exercise. I’ve been riding up the main dirt roadsince we moved here. The scenery doesn’t change much on that road -- forest on both sides with a few properties. Today I tried a new route even though I was uncomfortable exploring it by myself in the grey drizzle on Halloween. To my surprise, I came across a beautiful palisade and some vibrant larch in full fall color. The photos below don’t do either justice.