On the Fly: Lesson in humility
August 31, 2005
I’m often reminded that there is no better lesson in patience and humility than fly-fishing. In fact, I’m reminded pretty much every time I go fishing.Any angler who has spent some meaningful time on a river knows what it’s like to sit on the bank with a massive tangle of line while the water boils with rising trout. Any attempt to rush the process of untangling the mess or cutting your losses – in this case the leader – and retying everything will only make it worse.This summer, I’ve discovered another frustrating nuance of the sport – it’s getting really difficult to thread the line through the eye of a tiny hook. It’s an age thing that I’d rather not acknowledge, especially considering how often I lose flies and have to tie another one on.The one sure thing about fly-fishing is some new challenge will present itself, or I will do something newly stupid when I thought I’d already exhausted all the boneheaded maneuvers available to the average angler.Last weekend was a perfect example.I headed to one of my favorite stretches of water and had some measure of luck with a fly pattern (a yellow humpy) of which I had, naturally, just two in my possession.The first one snapped off just as I was about to land a trout. I saw the fly floating next to me and lunged for it with my hand. Nothing. Stumbling downstream like a hapless drunk, I tried twice more to snag it from the water. I was grabbing for my net in one last feeble attempt to retrieve it when the current snatched it from reach.I tied on my second and last humpy.Fast forward an hour or so: I sat down on a rock and carefully cut the precious fly off the line so I could add some additional footage (tippet, in angling parlance) to the leader. I was gingerly holding the fly in my mouth – a good way to give oneself a truly unusual lip piercing – when I dropped it. The fly miraculously fell onto a lens of my sunglasses, which were dangling in front of my chest, and stayed there. It would have been easily plucked from its perch and secured, but instead, startled by the motion of the falling fly, I took it for a real insect – a bee, I guess – and jumped halfway to my feet.The fly went flying into the water, not to be seen again.