Each One, Teach One

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By Louis Cahill

I’ve got some homework for you.

Last weekend Kent and I floated a local tailwater. I’ve been traveling like a demon all summer and it was a great chance to hang out, catch up, empty some beer cans and fish some local water. Days like that are chicken soup for my soul. Spending so much time on the road, I miss my friends and family. As you can imagine, there is a long list of folks looking to be in the third seat on that boat. Good friends who I don’t see enough of, hardcore anglers I always learn a trick or two from, guys who consistently put nice fish in front of my lens. It’s tough to make a choice.

This time out we made a great choice. Rather than rowing an old friend or badass angler down the river, we took Kent’s new neighbor. A great guy with very little fly fishing experience. I’m not sure if Heath knew what he was getting into when he stepped into that boat. Kent immediately slipped into guide mode. He told Heath to leave his rod in the truck and put his setup in his hands. Walked him through the fly selection and how to fish the team effectively. Taught him how to read the water and where to place the fly. Coached him on how to play fish and encouraged Heath at every step, praising every good cast. Before we had floated a mile, Heath had caught his biggest trout ever.

It was an awesome thing to watch. There’s nothing like seeing the lights come on for a new angler. Neither Kent or I spent as much time fishing as we might have but it was well worth it. We boated a real trophy. A new avid fly angler. And Heath’s appreciation was abundant and all the reward we needed.

I remember when I started fly fishing. I sucked for years, trying to figure it out on my own until a friend took me under his wing. Many great anglers followed suit and I’d have never become a real angler without them. The learning curve was tougher in those days, before the internet but it’s still no picnic. A mentor or informant can make all the difference for a new angler. It’s often the single factor that determines whether that fly rod spends it’s life on the river or in the closet.

It’s not hard to find someone who wants to learn to fly fish. Chances are you’ve met several. At parties or on Facebook. They may even be your own family. Here’s my challenge. Each of you find a person who’s interested and teach them to fly fish.

Think about it. We could double our community overnight.

A lot of you will say, “That’s the last thing I want to see!” That’s a selfish attitude and you’re plain wrong. Take a minute and look past the idea that you want the water to yourself and think about what a growing fly fishing community could really mean.

For one thing, real and effective conservation and regulation. Our regulatory agencies respond to the voices of the majority. Right now fly anglers are a small minority. We have no voice in the policies that govern our fisheries. We could, and that could make an amazing difference our fisheries.

Self regulation and etiquette. Let’s face it. You are going to share the water, whether you like it or not. Wouldn’t you like to share it with anglers who are respectful of the resource and of their fellow anglers? Guys who release fish, don’t litter and understand that you’d like a little space. No one teaches these things better than fly anglers. Let’s share our culture with as many anglers as we can and build a better community.

Money talks. More fly anglers spend more dollars on fishing licenses and TU memberships. Those dollars go right back into our fisheries making them better for all of us. Twice the number of anglers buying fly rods and reels means the margins become better for manufacturers and prices come down for all of us. Trust me, I know a lot of the guys who make your gear and volume is the key to affordable tackle.

Do it because it’s the right thing. Fly fishing has the power to turn a person’s life around. It did mine and maybe yours. That’s a gift you can give to another person. You can teach them something that will enrich their lives in ways that neither of you can imagine. That’s just being a decent person and you’ll feel pretty good for doing it.

Each one, teach one. That’s the way forward for all of us. I can’t think of a better way to explain it than to say thank you to some great friends who have taught me more than I can ever return. Dan Flynn, Kent Klewein, Joel Dickey, Bruce Chard, Jeff Hickman, Andrew Bennett, you guys changed my life and I can never thank you enough. The best way I know how to try is to teach what I’ve learned.

Now get out there and start teaching!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Each One, Teach One

  1. Well said, Louis. This past weekend was Project Healing Waters here in North Georgia, and I was paired with three different wounded vets over the three days and had the privilege of vicariously enjoying their improvement, ultimate success, and awe inspired by our sport. There is nothing like seeing a tight line for a fly fishing newbie you are helping and the look on their faces when it happens. On Sunday I had the bonus opportunity after the event to coach a new member of our Blue Ridge TU chapter from Florida to learn and ultimately adequately perform mending and the drag free drift. It felt good to walk up the bank and leave him, knowing I flattened the learning curve and that he now has the wherewithal to do it himself and improve on his own. Like you and Kent, I could have spent the time fishing myself, but would it have felt as good looking back on it? Not likely.

  2. I have to be honest…i feel like most everyone i have met in flyfishing world is willing to teach all they know. It is one of the many things I love about fly fishing. The folks you meet along the way are the ones that help you the most. Im on a local forum in Georgia and the guys on there have trully helped me become a better fisherman. Every day I read about somone offering to meet a new angler on the river and show them the ropes.

    Im a huge skier and used to have a similar thing with my sport growing up. All the new jibbers and saggy pant dues with there headphones on took some gettgin used to. But in the end the brought parks and pipes to ski resorts and have brought huge media attention to the game. So all is good that grows!

  3. This is why we are here. This is why we follow blogs and websites such as G&G. Why we guide, and why we volunteer our time. Teaching newcomers and helping others understand the art of fly fishing is a major part in why I love what I do so much. Seeing that “ah ha” moment in someone’s eyes when they finally make that proper mend, feel that perfect cast, or finally present that perfect presentation is priceless. Kudos to you fellas, as well as all of your readers and to everyone else that is involved in improving the future of fly fishing!!! Proud to call you all friends!

  4. I so understand the happiness of fly fishing with friends. Trying to get my son involved now. Have to admit Kent and Louis have been great influences.

  5. Years ago I brought my cousin (who’s also a life long best friend) and another friend to a good spot for newbie fly fishermen, with no trees or bushes within 100 feet, and taught them both how to fly cast. They both became avid fishermen, and my cousin became my favorite partner over the years. I still remember the satisfaction I got from teaching them to fly cast. It was very rewarding, and watching them catch their first fish was better than catching fish myself. It didn’t hurt that on my first demo cast, I hooked up with a nice brown. They were both instant fans of the sport. As the title of this article says, “each one, teach one.”

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