Pizza is pizza, right? A little crust, a little sauce, some cheese… bada-bing! There you go.
Not hardly! Perish that thought. Great pizza is an artform. It should be a perfect balance involving great crust, delicious sauce, golden cheese and fantastic toppings. If any of those four elements are deficient in any way… meh pizza! The operative word there is “balance.” Too much focus on the dough paired with bland sauce is an abject failure. All cheese and not much else—that’s what nachos are for. And I’ve never been a fan of pizzas with funky toppings that are there for effect, more than actual taste. If I want a salad, I’ll order a salad. Please don’t build a salad and plop it on my pizza. I won’t be impressed.
Stick with me here, because the analogy works for fly fishing (at least in my twisted mind). Great fly fishing prowess is also ultimately built from four key elements—the cast, reading water, presentation and the flies you choose.
The cast is your crust. That’s the basis for everything and everything sits on top of that. Reading water and knowing where the fish will be is the sauce. That’s often a special ingredient that’s only truly honed after years of trial and error. The presentation—knowing how to make the fly behave after it lands on (or sinks under) the water is the cheese. It must look good, or nobody is going to want to eat it. And the flies you choose, of course, are the toppings. And I’m sorry, but if you’re serving up salad on the pie, when the fish really want pepperoni and mushrooms, that won’t work, no matter how much time you spent at your vise, or how much cash you spent at the fly shop when you were talked into the “arugula” bug.
Again… balance. Like pizza. If you bring a game that emphasizes those four elements in equal balance, you can catch fish on any trout river or saltwater flat on the planet. All cast with no thought for reading the water and knowing where to actually place that cast—the first time, with precision… well that’s all crust, no sauce. Fancy fly patterns without understanding of how to let them ride? That’s all toppings, no cheese.
Build the perfect pizza in your mind when you fish. The worst you can do is make yourself hungry.