Skip to content

Flatten the Learning Curve

About a month after I bought my first fly rod and reel, I was back in the shop.  I told my buddy, Steve, that I needed guidance.  I needed some coaching.  If I didn’t get some help, I was going to throw the stuff in the river and do something different.  Golf maybe.  “Nah, man, not golf!  We’ll go out on Thursday.  OK?” So instead of straightening out my drive, I flattened out my fly fishing learning curve.


You can probably find reasons to talk yourself out of hiring a guide.  But there are plenty of reasons to talk yourself into the investment.  When I talk to some of our guides, they come back to the same goal: give fly fishers more independence and more skills to draw on the next time they go out independently.  


Tim Hannan says “guide trips end…so the fly fisher has to reach a level of independence and mastery in that half- or full-day.”   Self-taught can be great…but it can also drag out the time to reach a level of skill.


Another advantage of hiring a guide is receiving instruction when fish aren’t hitting what you’re offering.  Greg Blessing uses those more challenging times on the river to help a client learn to read the river, to turn over some rocks and see what is in the water, to study fish behavior, to learn a new cast.  He also sees guiding as an opportunity for married couples to be on the river together in more serene ways;  while he works with the newcomer to the sport, the spouse can be fishing.  It’s not easy for a spouse to teach his or her partner how to fish!  Guiding can relieve that pressure.


Then there’s the story that Jon Easdon shared with me.  His client had never fly fished before and they were out for a half-day trip.  The first-timer was having the kind of start we all probably did.  He’d get the presentation and the drift right, but miss the strike.  He’d cast again … too much drag.  Then a great cast, drag-free drift, get the strike but lose it as he played the fish.


“Then he put it all together.  Presentation, great drift, strike, played the fish right, got it in the net.  And once he put all the elements together – he just had it.  A couple hours later he is walking upstream, stalking fish, sight fishing for that one specific fish behind the rock, casting to it, and landing it.  Once it all comes together, you’re hooked.”


I see myself as an independent guy.  Like to figure stuff out on my own.  But if I can flatten the learning curve a little and put all the elements together faster … 


Leave a Comment