Two weeks on sabbatical, and I’ve been, well, fishing my butt off. I’ll be honest.
I embarked on this break with the goal of hoping to reconnect with the feelings of why I so deeply love this fly-fishing fascination in the first place. Been a little jaded by the crowds, the commercialism, and all that lately. But… my goodness… the “essence” is still so present, front and center, if you’re just willing to go find it, and stretch yourself, just a little bit.
My latest quest is to complete a “grand slam” of a different variety. Depending on where you live, the grand slam might be any number of things.
The classic saltwater feat is a bonefish, permit and tarpon caught on the same day. I have tallied a few of those, perhaps most memorably at El Pescador resort in Belize.
In certain Rocky Mountain trout havens, a slam might mean catching a rainbow, brown, and even a cutthroat in the same day. A “super slam” might be adding a mountain whitefish to the mix. (Love the choagie!)
But instead of raking runs over and over, with the hope of landing different species sheerly through attrition, I’ve pivoted to a new goal—the “technique slam.”
Catch three trout, any trout, in a given day, using three different fly-fishing techniques—drifting a dry fly, dredging a nymph pattern, and throwing a streamer—and that’s where you can really measure yourself as a “complete” angler. It isn’t about the fish, after all. It’s about the angler. Any knucklehead can drag a nymph, or float a dry fly, through a run in a river where various species thrive, and hope for the best. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. But isn’t that ultimately a matter of being in the right place at the right time?
If you really want to test your angling skills and achieve a “slam” of a different sort, set out to catch your fish with three different types of flies. Catch at least one on a dry, at least one on a streamer, and at least one on a nymph.
Do that, and you know you have the ability to catch them, coming and going. Do that, and you’re really angling with a fly rod.
Every day is a “technique slam” challenge for me these days. I usually fail. But sometimes I bring it home. And right now, that’s far more interesting and rewarding than any of the old “how big” or “how many” challenges that used to matter so much.