Fly Fishing and Tapping into your Subconscious Thinking

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Can Tapping into your subconscious thinking make you a better fly fisher? Photo Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

One of the most stimulating and interesting TV shows that I take the time to watch every chance I get is “Through the Wormhole” on the Science Channel. Go ahead and call me a geek, I find the show inspiring and can’t help to think if I’d been forced to watch this show as a kid I’d probably be three times as smart as I am today, and would have made it much further in my advanced education. “Through the Wormhole”, is hosted by the great actor Morgan Freeman, and it runs segments on all facets of life, discussing such topics as advanced science and mathematics, space travel and the human brain. The other day couch surfing and flipping through channels on the TV, I stumbled upon the show and quickly found myself glued to the screen as it talked about the mysteries of our subconscious, and how it’s used every waken moment of our lives.

Neuroscientists have prooved that the human brain constantly uses our subconcious to guide us and sway our decision making.

The show talked about how it’s our subconscious that allows musicians to memorize and perform extraordinarily difficult pieces of music perfectly by keeping their mind and muscle control in harmony. I assume it’s very similar to how professional athletes are able to put themselves in a zone during a game by using their subconscious, then making game winning plays. It was explained that our subconscious always stays two steps ahead of our conscious thinking, and that it’s a major driving force that keeps us out of danger and allows us to use our gut feelings to make spontaneous decisions correctly when we lack the information needed. The show went on and on, in great detail about how humans benefit from their sub-conscious, and then backed it all up by doctoral research and testing. In the end, the show concluded that in the future, if humans can learn to regularly tap into their subconscious we’ll be able to be more healthy, become significantly smarter and more creative than we can possibly imagine.

After I finished watching that particular episode of “Through the Wormhole”, I began thinking about what degree our subconscious plays in our fly fishing. For years, I’ve felt like my subconscious has allowed me at times to put myself in a zone on the water. Allowing me to amplify my senses and get extremely focused when the fishing conditions demanded it. I now believe it was due to me tapping into my subconscious that explains how I’m able to look at a spot on the water and drop my fly with pin-point accuracy in an area the size of a dinner plate, over and over. Replaying years of guiding in my head, I can recall countless moments guiding when I felt like I had a six sense on the water that allowed me to make unjustified calls on the water that immediately brought fish to the net. It was kind of like an inner voice talking to me and strongly suggesting I needed to change my rig, fly pattern or retrieve. According to the show, we can’t tap into our subconscious if we fill our mind up with anxious conscious thoughts. That we have to let go of them, stay relaxed and confident, for us to tap into the power of our subconscious. The last post I wrote, I talked about how I recently battled nerves on the bow of the boat in the Bahamas at the beginning of my trip, and by having to fight my unstable mental state, it kept me from fishing at my best ability. I now feel like the reason I wasn’t able to perform well is because I wasn’t allowing myself to tap into my subconscious which would have had my body and mind working in unison, in turn, putting me into a fly fishing zone. It wasn’t until I was able to let my nerves go half way through the trip, that I was able to make the hardest form of fly fishing (saltwater fly fishing) feel like it was no big deal at all. I now understand when my clients are lacking confidence and not catching fish, why I regularly tell them to look into their own fly box and tie on the fly they always catch fish with. It’s my subtle way of getting them to tap into their subconscious, because when their fishing the fly they always have success with, they begin thinking about all the fish they’ve caught with it in the past, and they in turn, clear their mind. This gets them relaxed and boosts their confidence, and that allows them to get mind and body synergy, which ultimately puts them in a zone.

Next time you’re out fly fishing and you aren’t having luck or you’re frazzled, try focusing on just enjoying the outdoors and clearing your mind. Forget about catching that trophy or catching a ton of fish. Doing so, it should help you become more relaxed, which will likely amplify your fishing instincts and give you the ability to tap into your subconscious. Remember, that often the gut feelings you get on the water are usually your subconscious helping you to find success.


Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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9 thoughts on “Fly Fishing and Tapping into your Subconscious Thinking

  1. David If all you got out of this post was a chance to show off your spelling prowess then get yourself a dictionary and grammar text and do a thorough job – otherwise just enjoy the post. I’m here to learn about fly fishing, not improve my spelling and grammar. We can’t all be experts at everything.

  2. Very legit. The Dead, Allman Bros, Phish etc spent a lot of time practicing lucid dreaming so that when they walked on stage they were in a state of mild lucidity/operating only via their subconscious. The second Jerry thinks about the composition in Terrapin it would sometimes cause a flubbed note.

    I think this is why Project Healing Waters is so incredibly successful and important for us as a fly fishing community. That subconscious focus on just the fish is a destination that benefits everyone.

  3. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s books “Blink” that explores this topic and “Outliers” that explores successful people (10,000 hours of practice to become an expert.

    If I overthink a situation I end up with thinking of what I should have done. If I react and don’t think I often am surprised at the cast I made (and the resultant flash of the fish).

  4. If you like this topic check out the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Awesome book all about getting into a flow state or the zone as described above. Enjoyed this post thank you for writing it!

  5. There’s a lot of good stuff up there…I’ll relate it to something a gentleman teaching me about how to shoot clays better told me years ago:

    “We don’t miss by the couple inches a different choke would give us, we miss by the six inches between our ears.”

    I find that when I’m cranky and PO’d it’s a good time to stash the fly rods for a bit, and throw gear, or eat a sandwich, or have a beer…or…sometimes…just pack it in and head home.

    My casting and “fish sense” isn’t gonna get better if focus on what I can’t do…

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