Fishing without Water

Me test casting prototype lines in my backyard

Me test casting prototype lines in my backyard (wishing I were fishing)

There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve observed on many social media fishing sites.  It basically goes something like this:  Someone posts an idea.  Maybe it’s a new fly tying technique, a DIY project, a new way of rigging, etc.  Someone else responds to it saying that it’s too complicated, or takes too much time, and they’d rather just go fishing instead.  Some go so far as to dismiss the whole idea and decree that the person who posted it should go fishing instead of developing their idea.  I’ve seen it over and over again and each time I do, I feel like pulling out the white glove and delivering a gentleman’s slap in the face.

The reply is based on an assumption:  that anyone tinkering with gear, or experimenting with new techniques at home is trading valuable fishing time to do so.  Which, of course, is absurd.

I’ve witnessed this happen to others, but it’s also happened to me several times.  I’ve even had people ask me why I waste so much time writing blog posts when I could be fishing.  Are you kidding me?  My answer is that I experiment with gear, tie flies, and write blog posts precisely because I can’t fish.

I can’t take off for the day when my daughter is sick, but I can tie flies.  I can’t fish when all the streams are frozen over, but I can test cast prototype lines in my backyard or write a blog post.  These off-stream activities give me an opportunity to do something fishing related when fishing isn’t possible.  And without them, I’d go insane.

If you’re like me, these things keep you going between your fishing trips and actually enrich (not detract from) your participation in the sport.  Anyone who thinks we do these things in lieu of actually fishing is making a false assumption.  Who in their right mind would say, “I could go fishing today but instead I think I’ll make some new lines and cast them in my backyard instead.”  After all, you could test cast those lines on the water!

So the next time someone accuses you of sacrificing fishing time to develop your idea off stream, send them a link to this post.  Maybe then they’ll realize that these activities are not symptoms of laziness, incurable gear addiction, or love of minutia, but actually a testament to our passion and commitment to the sport of fishing.

Author: Jason Klass

Jason is an avid fly angler and backpacker. As a former fly fishing guide originally from Western New York, he moved to Colorado and became an early adopter of tenkara which perfectly suited the small, high altitude streams and lakes there. He has not fished a Western-style fly rod for trout since.

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  1. Like!

  2. Excelente Jason,en un todo de acuerdo con lo expresado…

  3. I broke my fly rod, can’t fly fish until I get another one.

  4. Good reason! Now go tinker!

  5. Put perfectly! And sometimes, for me at least, I may prefer to tie some flies or teat cast lines instead of fishing because of travel time to the streams. All it is to me is practice, and practice makes perfect right?

  6. well put Jason. I have had that happen to me several times. I dont see anything wrong with a passion for tinkering. after all we would still be fishing with just a string and a sharp thorn if it wasnt for the tinkerers :)

  7. Ha ha. Didn’t even think of that.

  8. I’d just like to add that some of us who don’t do much tinkering a grateful to those of you who do and share your ideas so we don’t have to. I probably need to tinker with that sentence, but I think you get my drift.

  9. Good points made. Tinkering at home helps me refine my skills and equipment for when I do go fishing. Masami has also written about the countless hours spent casting at parks or bank parking lots perfecting his cast. Similar to Sean D. sometimes I prefer it over the drive to and from the rivers.


  10. You mean that you cannot multitask while pn the stream? I think that sometimes that is what is expected of us. The true opposite of a fly/tenkara angler ( ah, the Zen of it all)

  11. I have seen this happen quite often myself. What people like this fail to realize is that this obsession to continue to research, write, practice in our back yards, meet with others, etc… All of it is in the pursuit of mastering our craft. In the absence of a fishing opportunity, we invent a way to educate ourselves on the sport. We want to continue to be better than we were even just earlier that day. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have always found that my time spent on “fishing” away from the river played serious dividends once another fishing opportunity presented itself.

  12. I have spent countless hours of lawn casting testing the 19 prototype hiviz hybrid furled lines I make to finally get to the version that I produce now. It is just impractical to build a line, pack the car, drive to the stream, fish for maybe 10 minutes before you realize that something is not quite right so you hike out, pack the car drive back to the shop and the whole thing repeats itself. I can lawn test prototypes and make adjustments/tweaks on the spot because I have all my tools and video camera at hand to analyze video and build better products.

    I find that the “why waste fishing time” crowd just follows the herd and never innovates anything. They just rely on other peoples hard work and bitch on every social media network if something doesn’t meet their satisfaction regardless if it is the actual product or more likely the technique of the guy doing all the bitching.

  13. Amen

  14. Second…Move to pass the motion as read!


  15. In my experience, the “man that’s so lame” comment tends be a case of sour grapes from people that haven’t really earned the right to criticize (judging by their own angling ability or fishing-hours served). :)

  16. Very nice post. I some time ,,fishing,, in my back yards too…

  17. i love this. I actually went up to an empty parking lot at my work one day, got a coffee can, put some water in it and practiced casting on my lunch break (the water so i could see if the fly was hitting target or not. its how i practiced longer level lines. totally fun. i am getting more and more accurate of course with more and more practice. good post.

  18. Amen brother. Id much rather being doing something fish related then just daydreaming about fishing on my off water time. Thanks Jason great post!

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