Fly fishing rod

Chronicle on the fly: Check your ego at the river

A rainbow trout from the Roaring Fork River.| Photo by Scott Spooner
Tian KEW

The art of fly fishing can really ruin your self-esteem. One day you’re pretty impressed with yourself and the next you can’t seem to run on water.

I had a dose of this last week, after a blissful afternoon of trout turning into gnats on the top pan until dark. One of those rare times when all the trout in the river come up, my cast was dialed in and I actually had the right fly tied. The right place with the right fly is quite zen. The next morning on the lower pan, I couldn’t even properly thread the line into my rod, let alone cast a cast without getting snagged in the bushes.

Distraction is what seems to boil down to those tough days. If your belly is full, your mind empty, and the beer cold, the peach seems to click a little easier. At least for me. When your mind races over every little stress you have (except the task at hand), pay attention, because you’re really going to suck. You have to let go to transcend the complications of insects, moving water and no longer get in the way.

The best anglers I know have a bit of an ego, you have to pull yourself together once in a while to be an effective fly fisherman. Sometimes we have to take control of the situation on the river, whether it’s getting around a difficult customer or heading to a completely different stream to save your fishing day. A little ego can be healthy when it’s you versus nature, especially when you match your intelligence with a pea-brained (but often elusive) trout.

Choose your battles this summer if your confidence is down. Sometimes heading to less pressurized waters, fishing sooner or later, or hiking to fish on “dumb” cutthroats and brookies can bump that ego up to a tolerable level. I hope to see you there this summer, and if you see me in trouble, give me a cold.

This report is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or