January 26, 2010


While you are experimenting, do not remain content with the surface of things.
Ivan Pavlov

Success at any level demands a degree of proficiency acquired through the attainment of knowledge. Knowledge is hopefully absorbed through sets of experiences. My desire for many years, because of my infatuation with tiny flies and their ability to attract large fish, has been to become proficient in the area of tempting trout with all of the stages of the chironomid. From larval worm through pupal ascendancy right up to and including the emergence of the newly hatched adult from the surface film, this insect's life cycle is of keen interest to me. Take into account the sheer numbers of different members, larger and smaller, all uniquely colored, of the same family that will be a food source in the same body of water, moving or still. At first, the basic understanding of this fact alone was pretty intimidating. Add to that the experience(s) of being faced with finding a solution when poorly armed with proper flies because of the lack of knowledge. It doesn't end there, either. Simply fishing a fly that may indeed be a perfect imitation of the specific natural doesn't guarantee success. One needs to understand so much more. It's then that the sheer scope of the learning curve can really get in the way, because with a limited knowledge level, it's often impossible to know just where to start.
It's quite satisfying when a trout is fooled by your fly, and made that much more so when it is one you have conceptualized and turned into a reality. I live for that. But, for the same reasons, this modicum of success can also slow the learning process. See, for much of my flyfishing life, I have been too easily anesthetized by small, or short-lived success. Many times I would not understand what it really was about the fly that prompted the success. Being blind to the possibility that what I thought had been the cause might not necessarily be the case, I'd merrily tie many more the same way only to discover later (to my chagrin) that its overall performance was only marginal, at best. Add to that my frustrating proclivity for staying with a particular fly too long after enjoying only the briefest moment of success. I'm still working on that one, but I do believe I'm educating myself to a level whereby not only am I more tuned in to the most critical nuances when it comes to really 'dialing in' a pattern, but I've also gained a better understanding of the characteristics exhibited by the natural in its environment. So, now I tie a better imitation, and fish it more effectively. And when faced with the thought of fishing with the venerable chironomid, one needs all the tools, education, and skill he can possibly bring to the table to help provide him with success. It's like the rabbit after the carrot at the end of the string hung from a stick. Success breeds the confidence to persevere. Some of us need a bigger bite out of the carrot than others. Fortunately for me, I made do, at times, with the smallest of bites.

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