Those of you that know me personally, would probably agree I’m somewhat of an introvert. Much of that is due to the fact that I was a shy kid with few friends growing up, and I spent a great deal of my time in grade school getting picked on by extreme extrovert jerks. Thankfully, during my college years, I was able to break out of my shell from the help of some solid friends who always had my back. As much headway as I’ve managed to make over the years, I still haven’t been able to totally kick my introvert ways. For instance, I’m a pretty accomplished fly fisherman, but if you put me in a group of veteran fly anglers, most of the time I’ll be the one standing on the side-lines with my mouth shut, listening to everyone else talk about their accomplishments and experiences. It wasn’t until I met Louis, that I realized how important it was for my own fly fishing growth, to not let myself be afraid to step out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, and for that matter, not be afraid to let others see the areas where I had the most room for angling improvement.
Louis has never been afraid of what people thought of him as a fly fisherman. If he has, he sure as heck doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. I believe a lot of that is because he’s come to grips with and accepted, that most of his peers are usually going to write him off as an advanced fly fisherman, solely because he’s a professional photographer. For years trout fishing, I was the backbone of our fishing adventures. I’d do the majority of the catching and he’d do the shooting. He was the person asking most of the questions, and the majority of the time, I was the one doing the strategizing on the water. Although I started out a few skill notches ahead of Louis with a fly rod, he quickly closed the gap over the years. Today, I’m not at all ashamed to admit that Louis is a more well rounded fly angler than I am. He leap frogged me because he embraced his extrovert side, while I let my introvert personality hold me back from learning new facets of fly fishing. Louis has become a very experienced saltwater angler the last few years by devoting his time and hard work on the water, and he’s also made great strides in learning the art of spey fishing, by landing his fair share of wild steelhead on the swing. His huge growth as a fly angler and fly tier has come to him because he wasn’t afraid to break out of his trout fishing shell and try new things, and he’s never been ashamed to ask for help from others when he needed it. Furthermore, Louis has chosen to live out his fly fishing passion by never being fully satisfied with his current skills. He’s always looking for ways to improve his game. In turn, he’s inspired me to follow his extrovert ways in my own fly fishing endeavors. If it wasn’t for Louis, I would be half the angler I am today, and I’m grateful and forever thankful for his friendship, leadership and unwavering support.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a total waist of time for a fly fisherman to live out his/her passion as a nervous introvert. No fly angler should ever feel unworthy among a group of their peers, put off targeting a new species on the fly, or be apprehensive of learning a new fly fishing technique, just because they’re a few notches of skill level behind the norm. It does absolutely no good to be the angler standing on the sidelines, scared to chime in on the conversation, or wet a line, simply because they aren’t the most qualified angler in the room or rod on the water. If you want to tap into your full potential as a fly fisherman, you have to be willing to expose your weaknesses, and to some extent, not give a damn about other peoples perceptions of you during the learning process of new skills. In the end, your fellow fly anglers will respect you more, and valuable nuggets of fly fishing knowledge will likely be passed on to you along the way, that otherwise would not have been shared. Most importantly, you’ll be able to carry with you a true sense of confidence on the water from your new found growth, that was previously unattainable.
This year, I pledge to take my fly fishing skills to the next level. I promise to put in the time and hard work needed to get comfortable with a two-handed fly rod in my fingertips. Above all, I pledge to not let myself sit on the sidelines, afraid to voice my two cents on the fly fishing topic at hand, as I’ve done so many times in the past with my peers. I suggest you do the same, if you too have the tendency of letting your introvert personality get in the way of your fly fishing growth.
I’ll end today’s post with the wise words of Louis Cahill, who once said, “The sport of fly fishing should be inclusive, not exclusive.”
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