Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 44 - Puzzles

Growing up, my grandfather (Bernard Robert Campbell) was my hero. He was the one that indoctrinated me into puzzles. At his place, there were always some kind of game that would cause you to use your mind to solve. When the Rubik's craze hit in the early 80's, he had the cube at his place and even gave them out as gifts. I remember one Christmas where even the gifts to the grandchildren were a puzzle. The gifts (which were tailored to each grandchild) were wrapped in the same paper, were the same shape and weight, and didn't have name tags on them. A little piece of tape trickery on the bottom identified which gifts went to which grandchild.

This love of puzzles, is maybe why I love fly fishing so much. Fly fishing is a puzzle of the grandest sort. Weather, moon phases, water clarity, temperature, season, rod skill, fly selection... these are all variables that must be figured out (or at least a small head tilt in recognition) so that success may ensue.

Able to solve the Rubik's Cube in under two minutes, I understand that there is a process that must be utilized in solving the cube.

The first tactic in solving any puzzle is understanding the influences of the pieces. For example with the Rubik's Cube you quickly learn that the center piece of each side remains stationary. Translating this to fly fishing is more complicated. The Rubik's Cube is what I would call a one-dimensional puzzle; you just move the sides clockwise or counterclockwise. Fly fishing as a puzzle is multi-dimensional. Stream currents, feeding patterns, hatches they all act upon rules and will influence your fishing success.

Second, there is always a process with solving a puzzle. Whether you find the corners first on a jigsaw puzzle, or breakdown the movements of a bar puzzle there still is a process that you follow. In fly fishing there is a process also. Much like solving a jigsaw puzzle, there are different approaches to this process. Yet amazingly enough if a process works, it can't be dismissed. My process usually comes in this form: I first identify what fly fishing style I will use (wet fly, dry fly, Czech Nymphing...), I then choose my rod and reel, I approach the fishing lane from downstream and work my way up, I select my fly based upon observation on the water, I fish the stream methodically, and while fishing I am concerned with line drag.

The third lesson that I have gleaned from puzzles is that of persistence. Persistent in searching for the solution, persistent in finding a new process, persistent in continuing to practice. All of this holds true for fly fishing. You have to remain persistent in your pursuit. While you can be the weekend angler going only a handful times a year, you are not going to be the successful angler that you could be. Reading, talking, discussing, arguing, and practicing fly fishing is what will get you results.

I'm not a great angler yet, but my passion of puzzles has given me hope in my angling abilities. I think this blog shows proof that I'm at least persistent in my search for better angling attributes.

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