Alone with my thoughts and five hours of open road, I told myself that this trip was going to be different. Different in a sense that I was going to focus more on my swing and presentation of the fly, rather than my casting, distance, and loops.
The new outlook was brought about by a previous outing that resulted in a quality skunking. It forced me to think about what I had done for a solid two weeks before I hit the road again. I realized that I like casting a lot, and more often than not, I just chuck it as far as I can and let it drag and swing across a whole lot of water. Although I am covering most of the river, I am not really fishing, and am not connected to the fly like I should be. But seriously, casting is so much fun, its hard to not just let it rip. I can't help but be intrigued by the variety of ways in which one can create a sustained anchor or a touch and go cast. There is just something about hitting the opposite bank with a cast that just puts a smile on my face.
With the five hour trip over, the sun was rising as I geared up riverside. A beautiful run sat in front of me and I had it all to myself. The thought of a steelhead began to corrupt my thoughts and the previous five hours of reflection. I strung up a skagit set up and 10 ft. of t-11 even though I should have been fishing a scandi and a floater. I tied on a hulking intruder and 12 lb. tippet instead of tying on a small wet fly with 8 lb. I then found myself subconciously stripping off fifty feet of running line at my feet, setting an anchor, arching into a tight d-loop, and letting the intruder go for a ride. The process was repeated again and again and again. Before I knew it, the weekend was over and I only touched a few fish with my flies. I packed the car and had a five hour trip back to work to dwell on why I didn't heed my aforementioned thoughts on the way to the tributaries.
The point is, bad habits are hard to break. This Fall, I had a lot of them that really affected the number of fish I brought to hand. The majority of time, I had a whole lot of hope dangling on the end of my tip, rather than focusing on what my fly was doing under the surface of the water. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I couldn't break from the habit of casting the entire width of the river. In doing so, I left so much potential untapped and had no way of knowing why something worked when I actually caught a fish. It is so easy to approach a run and fall into a rhthym of launching a cast, mending, and stepping down. Instead, look for likely holding lies, focus on each cast and presentation of the fly, and your success will greatly improve.
Don't do what I did for the majority of this Fall.