“SET! SET! SET!” Chris yelled. My face expressed “Huh?” Oh yeah. Statue of Liberty. Right. I slam my arm straight up like I’m holding the torch. “Now dance” Chris starts cooing as he sways his entire body. I didn’t know I needed dance classes to learn how to fly fish. All I know, is fish dancing is hard. And I’m a dancer. Put on a good beat, yeah, let’s conga. Fly fishing has a lot more feeling involved than I first gave it credit. This might be part of the reason why it’s so challenging. It requires a lot of detailed analytical thinking, but it also requires it’s opposite, feeling.
“You need to FEEL the fish. Remember when you were a fish in class? (Yes, true story) Yeah, remember how we danced? I would pull and you would release. You would pull and I would release. Do that. But with the real fish.” Chris was like the Buddha of fly fishing. In practicing having more quality time, Jake and I enrolled in Fly Fishing 101 at Idaho Angler’s here in Boise. Neither of us with much fishing experience (me, zero). We figured we needed to start at the beginning.
As with most beginnings, let’s start with the words involved. Holy crap! I thought I made up a lot of words. If you ever want free entertainment, look up fly fishing jargon. It was almost what I would relate to when someone hears Pidgin (Hawaiian slang) for the first time. Whhhhhhhat? Was that English? “So I’m going to cast with a 5-lb fast action rod that has a dry fly attached to my first tipit which is attached to my lead and a bobber and a nymph fly at the end of my second tipit?! Then I’m going to work on my drag by watching the current and my bobber?!?! If I see the bobber sink or feel a pull, set it and forget it like the Statue of Liberty?!?!?!?!?! Then dance with my fish till I reel him in?! Did I get this right?” I’m being kind right now. Truth is I didn’t absorb enough of the lingo to properly use it. Fly fishing lingo is intense. Like a foreign language listening to customers walk in while we get the basics. “This. Is a fly.”
After we took the class at the shop, we decided to do one of their Guided Tours. It would be me, Jake & Chris (our instructor from 101). I keep reading that there are better ways to learn. In other words, don’t try to mow a new path learning anything new. Get help. Go to the best if you can. Second or third, even better because they have to work a bit harder beyond their comfort zone. Like you will be doing. We decided this would be the best way for us to give Fly Fishing a chance. The learning curve seems astronomical. Why take a whole year to learn what the fuck a drag was without heels or a cigarette? I’m glad we decided to give this mindset a try.
But can we afford this? I have the tendency to be tight with my money. Always needing a savings account. You never know when something bad is going to happen. And it has. You’ll be happy you didn’t do anything with that money. Whoa. That’s too expensive. I can’t. I don’t have enough. I’ve been working on that. I read Kate Northrup’s books “Money, the Love Story”. It inspired me to work on my mindset on money and focus more on my abundance. Ok, here’s an opportunity to practice. One guided tour later, the coming weekend. We were doing this? Yup.
“SET. SET. SET. Awwww, are ya gonna let this one get away too?” Chris inquired playfully. “Add it to the roster.” I replied with confidence. 1 stick and about 7 hooks later, I was still unable to reel the fish in. What would have frustrated the most experienced fly fishers I thought was hilarious. This fish dance is tough. I can feel my compulsion to grasp my money in the same way I’m grasping onto this damn fish. And every time I do that for too long, guess what, the fish got away. There’s an equal amount of resistance and fluidity needed to reel a fish in. Funny, I’m getting life lessons while the fish are making fun of me. I can hear them laughing. “Dude, get her hook. It’s hilarious. Don’t worry, she won’t reel you in. Trust me. Jon, Dolores, Suzie, Curtis, Gavin, Cyndi AND Augustus have already gotten hooked. Hahahahaha. Can you believe it? She can’t fish dance.”
One fish, Victor, he felt sorry for me. He thought that it was a shame that I didn’t know how to fish dance. That fish dancing could help teach me to dance in life. Balancing my responsibilities. All while still making the choice to spend money on experiences and fun. Victor wanted to help. So he did. “STATUE OF LIBERTY. STATUE OF LIBERTY.” (I get excited) “I’m gonna take out my net.” You gotta keep dancing. Chris must think I’m a lunatic at this point. My hysterical laughter projects after losing each fish. Oh well. Something to learn each time I guess. To be fair, Chris is great. He’s perfect actually because he’s laughing with me. We created a good banter about it between the 3 of us. (Of course Jake did awesome) Chris' recommendation: I hook the fish. Jake reels them in. Hopefully we will never have to play “The Walking Dead”, but if we did, that tactic might come in handy.
As Victor drew closer, the ‘ooo’s’ and ‘ahhh’s’ and ‘omg is it happening’ came out of all 3 of us. No way. No fricking way. I’m gonna get Victor in the bag aren’t I? Like that, I wanted to learn more. What a spectacular day. Out in nature. Learning something new with Jake. Laughing with Chris about my new ‘skills’. Then it occurred to me. This was worth every penny. Every single one. We could have spent the same money on our beginners gear. Sure. Then we would have spent trip after trip getting tangled, caught in the rocks and not knowing how to fish dance. If I left myself to learn that on my own, we most likely would have given up the sport out of frustration. Making the money wasted. Confirming my money fears. Keeping me from experiences in the future. Why do we do that? Let’s remember to fish dance in life. Sometimes we need to restrain (and save our money). Yet sometimes we need to release (and enjoy the experiences with loved ones).
And remember, just because you’re great at hook-ing, doesn’t make ya a good dancer. Ya know, food for thought.
May you go out there and treat yourself to an experience. Take a class. Go on a retreat. Whatever. You know what it is if you’d let yourself believe that you could have it. Go on. Go catch your fish and reel it in.
Ps. We all tend to get caught when knowing what's our balance with responsibility and fun. Share this with anyone you know that will love the analogy of fly fishing. “SET! SET! SET!”