Fly Fishing and Tapping into your Subconscious

12 comments / Posted on / by


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

Our subconscious stays two steps ahead of our conscious thinking, putting us in a zone on the water.

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
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

12 thoughts on “Fly Fishing and Tapping into your Subconscious

  1. Great read Kent! I hope my subconscious can guide me in turning around this wreck of a student teacher I have so I can tap into it again while fishing streamers next week. Many thanks….

  2. Completely agree! I tell my clients that being confident and being calm will always make for a better day on the skiff (anywhere for that matter) and almost always produce more fish hook-ups. They are the key to success and it’s the subconscious that controls this. Great article.

  3. Yes! I truely believe that the “10% of anglers who catch 90% of the fish” have learned to use a sixth sense, or as you put it, their subconscious mind. Like nymphing when you see your leader twitch or an indistinct flas, or when you just “feel” something is different and you tighten up your line and voila – you are into a fish. I’ve never heard it described as subconscious, but that totally makes sense.

  4. ABSOLUTELY. Your subconscious is the sum-total of your knowledge and life experiences – being tapped for that stored data. Thus, if you have no stored data, you will not have much of a helpful subconsciousness. Therefore, a madetory element of the all important and effecting subconscious connection is to feed it with good data. Making once again the old saw, still cutting with sharp teeth, vitaly important: Garbage In, Garbage Out.The reverse is equally true. Excellent post Kent. BTW… I watch TTWH all the time – fabulous show !! Definitely TV worth watching. It is available online most sources charge; watch Free! @ – but not for Android – video plugin doesn’t work; not on Netflix .. yet.

  5. Definitely concur with this idea…. I would rather call it intuition than sub conscious, but perhaps they are intertwined. I am trained as an artist and have relied on my intuition for many things in my art work, but I also use this trust/or confidence if you will in my guiding and it has served me quite well. Usually way better than the over thinking approach…..

  6. Great piece Kent. I agree wholeheartedly that when I am on the water and I’m able to sink into my surroundings and let go of what’s going on in my life (stress etc.) that I become much more in tune with myself, the fish, and the drift. Other parts of me take over (subconscious, intuition, etc) and I just instinctively know what to do. That’s what’s so fantastic and addictive about fishing and fly fishing in particular. That I can lose myself in what some might call “flow” and also lose track of time happens when I’m in the groove and truly focused. There’s nothing that I’ve found quite like it and believe me I’ve looked.

  7. Works for me. But then I’ve been fishing for 66 years. I also grew up in the age of rote learning and being told to use your eyes and ears while I kept my mouth closed. It’s surprising how much more you learn. I have also spent a lot of time listening and watching the gurus. It is amazing how much one learns.

    Also spend as much time as possible with the natives (aboriginals, indigenous or whatever the PC term is at the time) because us civilised people know zilch about hunting and reading the signs

    I’ve also taught myself to cast both hands so that now if I’m in a situation where I have to use my right (dominant) hand to manoeuvre a boat or something else I can get a cast away with my left hand and usually hit the target.

    Reading body language is also very important with everything one does. It is the most important form of communication.

    And finally, over the years I’ve followed a program to be continually focused on the 3Es, the 3Ps, the 3Ts and the 7Ps.

    That is:
    3Es = find the most Efficient, Effective, Economic method of doing everything;

    3Ps = Practice, Practice & Practice

    3Ts = Training, Training, & Training (as in educational training)

    7Ps = Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

    It will take me years to attain my goal. I know I have not done that yet. It is the eternal search for excellence.

    But most importantly one must enjoy the journey and attempt to learn something new every day.

    HAGO (have a good one)

  8. Kent,
    One good thing about the subconscious is that it frees your body and mind to act without conflicting thoughts or hesitation. When you are locked in a mindset executing a strategy and you start to overthink things, there is a good chance that conflicting thoughts (and messages to the muscles) will mess up the hookset, cast, or even the knot you are tying. Yes, it is better to be confidently in the zone and to try to eliminate negative and conflicting thoughts. Simpler really is better. Especially when you are right because of learning and preparation. Like many of the fishing lessons here, this concept applies to other sports and avocations as you point out as well as vocations (such as my days as a trial lawyer in front of the jury).

  9. Hi Kent,
    A really perfect article on what fishing is supposed to do for us. To disconnect with outside influences and focus completely on the task, in this case fly fishing. And it’s in this focus that we find the connection that touches our hearts and souls indelibly. Going Fishing for the sake of fishing. Words of wisdom my friend!

  10. Hey Kent; Totally agree with your psych assessment. You may find a book by Steve Kotler interesting, “The Rise of Superman”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...