1. Learning a new hobby adds structure and brings joy to your life.
Albert Einstein once said: “once you stop learning, your start dying.” Now a lot of people look at this quote and think that it only applies to scholarly knowledge such as science and math. But I believe learning also includes new physical skills and pushing our bodies as well as our minds.
Growing up I was a very active boy, I was involved in team sports all year round. Basketball season started before football season ended , football started before baseball season ended and baseball started before basketball season ended. This may have been a tactic used by my parents to keep a hyperactive boy contained but I fell in love with organized sports. I loved competing, not only against others but competing against myself. I loved to practice a skill or fundamental like perfecting my baseball swing or tackling techniques for football. I would practice day in and out on trying to become perfect at the things I loved.
Shortly after graduating high school, I realized there were no more practices, no more training, and no more games. I felt lost. I started trying many new things that I had never done before. I was dying for an activity that could give me the structure and internal competition I was craving.
Last summer, a few friends of mine wanted to do a guys trip. Get together and go up to a buddy’s cabin and do some fly fishing. I was so excited. I had wanted to learn how to fly fish but had no idea how to start. His cabin was deep in the Uintah Mountains, surrounded by dark green oak and pine trees and a network of streams and rivers. He let me borrow an old fly rod and reel, a few flies and we set off to the first small stream. It was awkward, I struggled using the fly rod, it was very unnatural to me. But wishing the first 15 minutes I had my first fish on with a fly rod. It was a tiny little thing, no more than a few inches but it was the most beautifully colored thing I had ever seen. I had found what I was looking for. From that point on I was in a river at least 3 times a month. I was watching videos on how to perfect my form and would get out to the park to practice with my rod almost daily.
2. Fly Fishing can improve your mental health.
In life we often find ourselves so busy we forget to take care of ourselves. Between schooling, work, and relationships, we sometimes forget to focus on what our bodies and minds are in need of. For me I often am so focused on graduating from school, getting everything I need for work done, and making sure I give necessary attention to my wife, that I slowly slip into a dark funk.
One of my favorite things about fly fishing is it makes me forget about every stress I have and puts my mind at peace. The best fishing is often found the furthest away from busy cities and busy people. Often times you find yourself deep into this world’s natural beauty. You can hear the wind blowing through the trees. The water flowing and crashing on rocks. For me it extracts all the stress and pressure from my body, and sends it down the river.
3. Reeling a fish in is one of the most rewarding feelings.
You will likely scoff and my statement above, and I do not blame you. It seems very arrogant and haughty to assume that it is, but consider what I am going to share.
Fly fishing is very complex and complicated. You often can’t just show up to a river, throw your line in and wait. A fish will likely not hook itself, they have to be outsmarted. Yeah I know, how smart could a fish be?
When I go on a fishing trip there are a lot of things I take into account and plan for. First I look at where I want to go, then I check the weather there. If it is fair I then call a fly shop and ask what the water conditions are. Is the water high? low? Is there a lot of snow runoff? What are the fish eating? Is there a bug hatch? I then buy the necessary flies and equipment. When I get to my desired location, I walk up to the river and observe. Can I see signs of what the fish are eating? Can I tell which insects are hatching and are on the water? Once I feel that I am ready, I tie my line, get into the water and start making casts on where I feel the fish are.
Often the fish will hit your fly and either you will miss setting the hook or the fish will miss the fly. Its a game of perfect conditions. But then finally… you land the fly perfectly onto the water, you see a dark shadow mover up and approach the fly, the fish gulps it whole, your pull your rod up, the line tightens, the tip of the rod bends. All you can here is the line spinning out of the reel and your heart pounding. The fish breaches the water trying to shake free. After a short battle, you land the fish in your net. It is exhausted, you hold it for a moment in the water helping it regain it’s strength, admiring its colors and individuality, it swims away… but it isn’t over, you need to catch the next one…