I too, read Alex C‘s bit on why you suck at fly fishing, and then I read Pete’s counter and MG‘s announcement… and it got me to thinking… how do I feel about sucking? (A Perfect Fish got in on the discussion too)
I like Pete’s “Don’t be an asshole” rule. I think I can pretty much live by that one. I’ve had a few things said about me over the years and I’ll generally admit to being a bit naive, but certainly well intentioned. I’m maybe a bit too quick to get defensive and a little slow to let an insult go, but I’m working on both of those things. Don’t say I’m not, damnit! Well… more work to do, I guess.
There are a lot of really good anglers out there and there are a lot of really sucky anglers out there and I’d bet the a-hole split is fairly even between the two groups. However, there is something particularly egregious about the guy who is an a-hole about being a good angler. I kind of hate those guys. There seems to be something about this sport/hobby/pastime that generates the “I’ve been there, done that, and probably better than you did/will/can.”
These guys are first against the wall when the revolution comes. Just say’n.
We all start somewhere and usually, almost always, suck at the beginning. Some kids get lucky and fish from birth. I took up fly fishing when I was 20 or 21 despite living in trout country and gear fishing from an early age. Others come to it later…. sometimes not until middle age or retirement. When you start and how much time you put into it determines a lot. For most folks, sucking isn’t a way of life, it is merely the scenic route to becoming a better angler.
I’m not good at math, but I think you could nearly come up with an equation to determine flyfishing suckiness… I’ll call it the Fly Fishing Suckiness Index (FFSI).
TW (Time on the Water – 1-10) x HLP (Amount and quality of help you have received – 1-8) x A (Athleticism – 1-2) x AG (Age you picked up fly fishing – 1 older, 2 young man, 3 birth) x FND (How fishy your group of friends is – 3-very, 1-not at all) x AW (Awareness – 1-2) x FS (Quality of your local fly shop – 1-2) x FT (Fly Tier 1 = no, 1.5 = yes) x JOB (Job, is it your job? 1 = no, 3 = yes) = FFSI
Nowhere in the equation is there mention of how expensive your gear is or how many miles you’ve traveled after fish. Those things don’t make the angler, really. One key factor is the help your receive along the way. Guides, friends, parents… there is a world of advice and knowledge and if you ask, you will generally receive… if you do, remember to give it back to some other sucky angler at some point down the road.
There are exceptions… there are people born to fish, just like there are people born to paint or sculpt. The engineers I know seem fairly unable/unwilling/uninterested to do anything else. I heard one computer/electrical engineer explaining how a quantum computer would work (which blew my mind) and it was not lost on me that this same person has sever phobias involving toothpicks, needles, contractors, ticks and many, many other things that makes it nearly impossible to operate in the world. He was born with numbers in his head and some people are born with fish floating in theirs.
There are probably also people who cannot overcome their own ineptness, but who love it anyway. If it doesn’t bother them, I ask that it not bother you either and we should all get along famously.
PS – I’m still, pretty much, a sucky saltwater angler… but I’m working on it.