Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Student Exceeds The Master

Over the past couple of years I have been slowly trying to teach my brother-in-law to fly fish.  It has been a bit of a struggle.  Not through any lack on his part, he is one of those natural fishermen who usually just believes he is going to catch fish and therefore does.  Having pretty much only taught one other person to fly fish, and being nearly 100% self-tought myself I am just clueless as to how to go about it.  Today we had a very good day though, and the student exceeded the master!

Two years ago, lesson 1 started poorly as I kicked him out of his spot and climbed in to show him what he was doing wrong.  While attempting the most atrocious drift possible I was saying "See John, this is how you were doing it.  When you let the belly of the line drag your fly blah blah blah...."  At which point an overly eager brownie just had to whack the dry fly.  That was hell on my credibility and had him justifiably pissed off.

Lesson 2 was worse as we spent a couple of hours together on the high country trout stream I fished every second I was able to from the age of 12 to 18.  Certain doom.  It turns out that watching your instructor catch a fish every-time he even looks at the water funny is discouraging.  Particularly when he managed 5 hits himself and missed all 5.  At this point I am sure he had decided fly fishing was black voodoo.

For lesson 3 I took him on an exploration for Carp.  This was in August which can be an extremely difficult month in Colorado.  I was in the process of trying to work out the where / when / how of August Fly-Carpin in CO.  It turns out that figuring some things out for yourself while trying to help someone else is not only kinda jerky but not very effective since neither of us had a chance in hell of catching anything that day.

Lesson 4 was better.  This was during the Carp-Slam open where he was my partner.  I thought it would be really awesome if his first fish on the fly was a Carp on the fly during the tournament.  It was also a chance for us get a full official day fishing together and bond.  As it turns out we had an absolute blast and it seemed that he came out of the experience more confident.  This WAS a carp tournament so at times I had to just let him struggle on his own while I tried to get us off the skunk and not-in-last-place (my only goal for the tourney).  This worked out as we got not-in-last-place, he caught one 3" blue-gill and I got off his back!


Beats the heck outta me, but maybe we did a couple things right today.  Beyond getting lucky, after a brief experimental scouting trip I made darned sure we would end up in a place where I was absolutely 100% sure we could find feeding Carp this time of year.  Second of all I stayed right there by his side for the first tailer and that was it.  He came very close to nailing a couple of shots to that one despite 17mph winds messing with him.  Good enough and I skeddadled after the Carp did, leaving him on his own in an area with active fish, my rod and a leather headstand worm.  10 minutes later I heard him gently calling from upriver "Tage...Tage....Got one on".  A couple of minutes and several smiles and high fives later it was mission accomplished.  Off the shnide.  Pretty sure it feels just as good for me as it does him!  Incidentally I somehow missed my only take on the day (no clue how or why, it was a perfect take) so he out-fished me.  I still have no clue how to teach somebody else, but today definitely seemed like an improvement!


  1. What a cool post and a great read, McTage. I'm guessing he's a hard-core member of the Revolution after that experience. Good stuff.

  2. "he out-fished me" --> sounds to me like you're a pretty damn fine teacher!

  3. thinking your gonna catch them is sometimes all it takes!

  4. Oh yeah, he has defenitely joined the Revolution. And it is always the same with fly fishing...once you get that first one it always gets easier.

  5. Love it... Always nice to see the student whack the teacher ;)

  6. Teaching people is tough. I tried to teach some one casting one time. The hardest part was explaining the "feel". I think people who have played sports before can relate better to that kind of teaching, the feeling of a good throw or shot in basketball. Athletes can relate to that. I'm never sure how to relate the "feel" in other ways. I understand the paint brush and hammer examples but that's not what it feels like to me. You literally feel the rod loading. There was a girl I taught a few times how to cast and what flies to use. We went maybe twice. The third time she take off down stream, doesn't ask me what flies to use or any info. I catch up with her later in the day she caught already caught 6 fish. I think it's the eagerness to learn and want to catch fish that makes the students good. The credit can't totally be put on the teacher. Great blog by the way.


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