Burn the books? Hold on a sec; think back a ways. "Son, what
ya need most is some time on the water." I have no idea who first
said that but someone must have. It is so universally true. So what
does time on the water give you? Experience. What is experience?
Noticing when you did something, often wrong, and correcting for
it. At least in fly fishing it seems that way.
No book can teach you how to cast. Only you can learn from
doing some. Probably not the best at first, but you will change
things until you can get whatever job done you are after. Not
much point in learning how to cast a hundred feet if your creek
is only ten feet wide. Then again, deadly pocket-picking' is not
of much value when you are hammering the seams eighty feet out
on a tidal flat for cruising salmon.
What is fly fishing if not a journey? If not a lifetime wasted
investigating the nuances of our lore, what else is it but learning
how to do more and more things. True, we often are prodded
to continue on by things we may read, but most of the real
knowledge happens in the field. I can study about bugs and fish
but, until I have one in my hand, not much has been absorbed.
So, is it perhaps better to let those seeking to become 'fishers of
the fly' and lancers of the long rod to learn by their own mistakes. To
make only the corrections necessary to their own ends? Why stuff
their noggins full of extra info only to have it confuse and confound
them when upon the stream it fails them? Perhaps we should destroy
all but a few of the books. Let all the new guys enjoy finding out what
a spinner really is, a dying stage of a may fly. Look on the water. See
the fish gobble them up. What are they? Why, they're tiny little bugs.
I wonder if I could make an imitation one at home. Some thread and
Let the 'time' start all over again. Let each person revel in all there is,
not just what he can discover between the lines of some book. Then
too, there are some books that may not be dead on with the subject
matter. Some times an author needs to write several to get it right.
What's up with books one through seven, are they wrong? Well,
sometimes, yes and you know it. So, how do we fix all of this mess?
One way might be to pitch them all out except for maybe Trout
by Bergman. It makes a fine start, mostly probably correct, even for these
times. That way no one would be self conscious of their casting, most would
only be good at the job at hand so to speak. Might make for a more perfect
world. There was a time when books on fly fishing seemed to explode, about
nineteen-seventy something. Everyone who caught a fish presumed they
could write and did.
Sometimes a fellow would write a whole book just to make a point
in his last paragraph. Others would take one tiny idea, some fringe
aspect of fly fishing and burp out thousands of words on it. Often
wrong and mostly irrelevant, but they got published and oddly
purchased too. Thank goodness for the Internet.
Now everyone can get in print whether or not they can write but
no one cares and it doesn't cost anything to find out. I can remember
back to a time, maybe not too far back indeed when I wouldn't read
certain things. I didn't want to clutter my head up with stuff I didn't
want. Some would suggest that I read something, "It is really good!"
Thanks, but no thanks. Same goes for much of what I read these
days but mostly only due to time constraints.
I guess what am trying (last paragraph here?) to get at is this. For
those just starting out. Sure, go ahead and get the rod, the reel and
line and some of the goodies, but, what you need is to get some time
on the water. Go ahead and make mistakes. They are learning
experiences' not mistakes unless you don't learn anything from them.
Snap a fly off in the air behind you? Well, what happened? Figure it
out. Heck, turn your head and watch, if nothing else. Remember, you
are your own best teacher. No one can 'learn ya nothing.' Only you
can learn things and experience is still your best teacher. Go ahead
and learn yourself something new today. ~ James Castwell