Is Your Introvert Personality Holding Back Your Fly Fishing Growth?

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Without the inspiration of Louis Cahill, I’d be half the angler I am today. Photo Murphy Kane

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.”

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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15 thoughts on “Is Your Introvert Personality Holding Back Your Fly Fishing Growth?

  1. Kent, wise words that ring true with life in general. I frequently have felt the same way you have when I’m in the company of top-notch anglers, but it helps me to remember that everyone of those fishy guys has made millions of casts without landing a fish to get to where they are now. This winter I landed a trophy brown without the company of my long-time fishing buddy on a stream we have worked our butts off trying to dial in. Even though he wasn’t there, I felt like we caught the fish together because without us pushing each other to improve over the years, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge or skill to hook AND land that fish. I felt a brief sense of guilt that he wasn’t there to enjoy the fish with me, but that quickly vanished when I heard how pumped he was on the phone after I sent a photo of the fish to him. I quickly gave him joint credit for the fish because without him I would not be the angler I am now. I also now feel a deep obligation to help him get on a bigger fish than my own. And that’s what it’s all about: a nice, lovely bro-mance on the water!

  2. It’s a difficult thing to do, in any aspect of your life, to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. As for me, sometimes I can do it, sometimes I can’t. Thanks for the article.

  3. Great article! Very encouraging. I’ve been turned off to Salt Water fishing by repeatedly reading about how clients frustrate or even anger guides when missing that one shot in a day, 70 feet into a headwind iwith a teacup sized strike zone The thought of paying $500-600 or much much more for that scenario scares me for a lot of reasons. Being introverted pretty much ensures I won’t try to do that style of fishing. Any type of fishing that requires a guide is a non-starter for me. I hope that your readers will do better with your advice than I can. I love G&G in the inbox every day. Keep it up!

    • @ Ed,
      Try a fly fishing trip with a trout guide. It’s a much more relaxing atmosphere than the “salty” situation you described. i have an invert personality as well, but I’ve broken out of it enough to follow my dreams and become a fly fishing guide.

    • Ed,
      There are many opportunities for wonderful experiences on salt water, and there are terrific guides who can make your experience well worth the cost. Finding those guides and experiences can be more difficult than acquiring the skill set to fish the salt. But it is worth the journey in my experience.

      I was actually self-taught on saltwater fly fishing, and I started by carrying a spinning outfit to redfish and sea trout flats as “back-up.” I learned enough on my own to make my trips with guides very productive and therefore cost-effective. That’s one way to do it.

    • Really a sad point of view. Guides, nice or not will teach you something. You will be a “newbie” forever. Not a guide….I wish you low expectations.

    • Really a sad point of view. Guides, nice or not, will teach you something. You will be a “newbie” forever. I am not a guide….I wish you low expectations.

    • Ed, my impression is the asshole-guide is a mostly Florida Keys phenomenon.. you would usually be fine with the vast majority of guides. All the guides I’ve met when they are fishing off-duty have been really nice guys/gals. This includes a Keys guide who gave me a couple of flies and good ideas when he saw me battling it DIY. Prescreen your guide by calling and asking what their expectations are, should be able to find one that will teach rather than abuse.

      It always chafes me when guides complain about their unskilled clients. If those clients had spent the time to perfect their fishing skills, they likely would not have made the money to be able to pay the guide..

      I’ve never had a guide partly because I can’t afford it and partly because it’s one of those things I’d rather do for myself – piscator non solum piscatur and all that nonsense.

      As a strong introvert, I’ve always found I learn more from listening than by talking.. ha. The interweb is a godsend for introverts I have to say – learned to flyfish for carp thanks to and the sadly defunct forums.

      • Hi Doug,
        Thanks for taking the time to respond to my sort of negative vibe about the salt water guided thing. As a kid, I would look through the Lefty Kreh salt water fishing books my dad had, imagining the day when I could do that. My dad never did, and I understand why now. I’m sure most guides are good folks and are kind and very professional.
        The endless descriptions of what is required to be successful on the flats is daunting. i’m not a steelhead guy either, for the same reasons. I’m simply not able to spend the time or the money.
        I spend my available time stillwater fishing lakes in MT, ID and WY. I’m very fortunate to have that here. I can fish for a whole season for a fraction of the cost of a few days in the salt. There is no pressure, and solitude.
        I shouldn’t have made my sort of whiny post. I hope I didn’t offend any guides, or the folks that have the skills, means and personality to go to and learn to fish the flats. Meanwhile, I wait for ice off! Soon….

        Thanks again,

        • Ed,

          Your post wasn’t whiny. It was honest. Now I understand why saltwater is so expensive for you. It is far, far away from where you live. Having fished successfully for tarpon, bonefish, snook, and redfish, I absolutely loved the salt. However, I now live in the North Georgia mountains and I get a great charge from catching tiny native brook trout on small streams and fishing for rainbows and browns around here. I love it here and understand why you love your home fishing area.

        • Sorry, your post IS whiny….get up off your fanny and go do it. Anything. Just go fish, it doesn’t matter what your fishing for, just go fish. You can always find someone to say “poor baby'” while the better friend throws your butt to the nearest water.

  4. Great conversation-starter Kent.

    I learned a long time ago that a lot of the people filling the room with hot air and stories were not above me in skill, talent, and most importantly work ethic. They just talked like they were. This was true as a combat helicopter pilot, a beginning law student, a lawyer, and a fly fisherman. Accordingly, I am willing to contribute to the conversation and I learn and improve every day in all areas important to me. And fly fishing is really important to my quality of life. However, I do not consider a bad cast, a bad day, or a bad decision regarding fishing to be a failure. It is an opportunity to learn, and it spoils nothing if I improve from it.

    Most of all, try to surround yourself with folks who value you and your input and not those who are competing for the spotlight. It makes life so much more fun.

  5. Great article. Two things came to mind. As in life, by approaching anything new, being humble increases your chances of learning and having fun. There’s a bit of humility involved with being outdoors too. The other point, putting mastery out of reach keeps everything fresh…….and humble. It’s a nice cycle. I feel so much richer for having the opportunity to learn to flyfish.

  6. Pingback: Tippets: Podcast with Gary Borger, Gladiators of the Sea, Angler Personality Traits | MidCurrent

  7. Where there are fish, there is friends and opposite is also true, no fish, no friends. Colorado has plenty of fish, and I had many fishing buddies. I live now in West Michigan, no trout where I live and no fishing buddies. The fly fishing groups in this area are all about tying flies and less about stream trout fishing. Wading streams are nearly impossible here and if you don’t boat or, float you don’t fly fishing.

    I am thinking of fishing neighboring states that have available trout streams to fly fishing and possible new fishing buddies. As I said no trout no trout fly fishing buddies.

    Keep trout fly fishing reel.

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