Time on the water is how you really learn fly fishing.
I’ve learned quickly in my short fly fishing career that nothing replaces time on the water.
Videos can’t do it. Books can’t do it. Advice from the seasoned veterans can’t do it. Those things may help me better prepare for time on the water, but the only thing that really works is time on the water.“No matter how much we all try to prepare, every fishing trip is basically an unknown until you get there.”
When I’m on the water, I’m adapting to the conditions in realtime. It’s a constant chess match that keeps me on my toes. Weather, water conditions, terrain, other anglers – all of these are factors that are either make fishing easier or make it much harder.
Books make many assumptions, and that book wasn’t written based on my style, my waters and my conditions. Videos don’t show you the bad parts. Local shop advice doesn’t take into account my casting style (or lack thereof). Those reference materials are great guides, but wading out into the stream and putting in time is how you truly get better at fly fishing.
No matter how much we all try to prepare, every fishing trip is basically an unknown until you get there. The variables of fly fishing are numerous, and often dynamic at times. If you’ve put the time in, you’ll have that bank of past knowledge to help you conquer whatever you might encounter.
I’ve learned all sorts of tips and tricks about fly fishing while sitting behind the screen of my laptop, but I’ve learned how to fly fish by putting in my time on the water.