How to be great at fly fishing

Davin, taking a shot.

I am not sure which coach said it, might have been at a basketball camp when I was in high school, but the coach said “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

That resonated with me a bit.

A second concept that has stuck with me is the idea that outcomes are not coincidental. That means if you want to improve a particular thing, you have to work on that particular thing with the goal of improving it… your main goal should not be a coincidental outcome, it should be an intentional outcome.

These sorts of things float around in my head, popping up from time to time and even sometimes getting applied to my life.

I was recently listening to the Freakonomics podcast and they talked about “How to Become Great at Just About Anything” where this idea of deliberate practice was discussed. This is where the 10,000 hour rule comes from, meaning to become elite at anything you need to devote a considerable amount of time, you need to put that time in with the goal of improving and you need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

The application to fly fishing is pretty clear. Your casting won’t improve if you only pick up a fly rod 5 or 6 times a year and it won’t improve if you practice in the best conditions only and only at distances you feel comfortable with. Your casting also won’t improve if you don’t have a mechanism to elicit feedback. If you come to understand what you are doing wrong, you can’t fix it.

That same sort of thing goes for writing and for singing and for parenting (probably, right?) and for surgery and for selling and for… everything you want to be good at.

Take a listen to the podcast and thing about what aspects of fly fishing you could apply this to… and what areas of your own life might stand to benefit as well.

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  1. “What I’m talking about is a game … a game that can’t be won, only played.” Bagger Vance.

    Works just as well for fishing.

  2. Eternal learning is what it is about.

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