Hands & Concentration
Ok, I know this discussion won't make some of you happy, but it is something that may make you a better angler. You have heard the line "90% of the fish are caught by 10% of the fishermen". Well it is probably even more lopsided than that. Why does this happen? Is it equipment? Not with today's great technology and availability. Is it a better learning curve? Well, yes in some cases it can be attributed to people learning more quicker. When I started to fly fish, it took a number of years for someone to reach the skill level now attainable in a single or few seasons. Great classes, better equipment, videos, books, and a lot of mentoring has helped produce good fly fishers in record time. But I am not talking about the technoanglers in this discussion, I am referring to that guy who catches 20 or 25 fish when others around him or her are catching only a few. What makes the difference. Lets concentrate on 2 things: hands and concentration levels. There are other considerations, but I will save them to argue about later.
I fished in the past with (or at least near by in different boats) 2 friends who have what I call some of the best "Hands" in our sport. They are Sash Nakamoto and Doug Oulette, both from the Reno area. Now I know a lot of fishermen from a lot of places and still believe these guys to be 2 of the best lake fishermen around. They can feel takes and line variances better than anyone else. They have what you might call a second sense in feeling and setting up on fish. It is so natural to them now, that they can appear to be just doing the same thing as everyone else but catching a lot more fish. How did they get this second sense? It took a lot of time and work. Hundreds of fishing hours or maybe even thousands of hours. How can you get some of those "hands" if you don't have that much time? Practice! Always be in contact with your line, not just most of the time, all the time. Pay attention, not just once in while, but constantly. These anglers are focused on fishing first and everything else second. Remember what the line feels like just before, during, and after a fish takes. If you are surprised when a fish takes, you will never get this. Good fishermen expect it when a fish takes. Not just the pull of the fish taking, but that subtle differences before the pull. The eyes can become part of the "hands" experience by giving sensory input based upon the water, the line and other visual cues. It takes practice and most anglers will never get it, but you can certainly change your percentages if you work on it. If you put your brain on the "waiting for the bell to ring on your pole" level you won't get it either. Practice, Practice, Practice. Now the next topic really is just an extension of this one and you cannot have "hands" if you don't have "concentration". Sash is no longer able to fish, but will remain one of the best lake fisherman and all around angler I ever had the pleasure of knowing. Doug has become the best Pyramid Lake and Truckee River guides in our area and you should give him a call if you want to learn Pyramid. Dave Stanley, another great local guide is also someone you should hook up with. Dave owned and ran the Reno Fly shop for years and has so much knowledge about all our area lakes and stream. He is a wizard on the little Truckee River.
I hinted at this in the last section, but really want to touch on it in depth here. If you are ok catching a few fish and sometimes having a really good day, then stop reading right now and watch Survivor. However, if you want to be one of the guys who does not brag or say much but catches a lot more fish then other anglers, then PAY ATTENTION. Right! You heard me, pay attention. Put all of your concentration into what is happening around you. Watch the water, not the ducks. Stay in contact with your line, not your drink. Notice everything, water, sky, temp and wind conditions. What were you or the other anglers doing when they hooked a fish? What kind of cast? What kind of retrieve? What fly are they using? Are they casting in the same direction as you? Sometimes the difference between any success and a lot can be just the casting direction or presentation. There are too many variables to discuss hear, but you know what I am talking about. Keep a log, write down what happened and what worked along with what did not. Read it later when you are thinking about how you did. What? You don't think about how you did or why it was good or bad? If you are just patting yourself on the back or wallowing in your own pitty, then your are not learning from your experiences. Your attitude will beat you everytime. Take control, concentrate seriously, and learn from what happens. Animals that hunt learn their strategies because their lives depend on it. Fish with the same attitude, and you will change your ability to be successful.
I enjoy fishing probably more than most people. It has saved my life when stress would have done me in. It is a total experience with the world around me and my interactions. Don't misread the above discussion, you must take time to take in everything, but know when to focus and when to let up. Once you learn the skills and build the sensory ability to be very successful, then back off and you will see that you can can fish with the same fun and carefree attitude on the outside, but with cunning and stealth inside. Of course there are anglers who are happy to have some success and just really enjoy themselves. I respect that, but aren't you still a little envious of the guy who caught 10 more fish than everyone else? Don