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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25 thoughts on “Is Your Introvert Personality Holding Back Your Fly Fishing Growth?

  1. Excellent post and one I’ll surely remember. I’m almost entirely self taught and have always been apprehensive about fishing with others for that reason – not knowing how good or bad my casting or other skills are in comparison to others.

    But really, who cares? Just go out and have fun and learn a thing or two from whomever you’re with.

    Love the site, I check it every morning. Keep up the great work and my G&G calendar looks great on my office wall.

  2. Kent, dude….what a topic! Can it hold you back? Yes, it can, but introverts can be good listeners also! You got two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you talk and you will learn something! like you were saying Kent, that you would kinda sit back in a group of vet fishers. I bet you probable gain some valuable knowledge listening to them, but on the other hand you might have gained a pearl if you asked that question. We all have different personalities, that’s what makes us unique, have special gifts and talents. To all folks who fell not worthy or less, especially folks that feel that way because someone tried to put out your fire, think about this. Take out a crisp hundred dollar bill and wad it up, through it down and step on it. Now pick it back up, un wrinkle it and dust it off. Has that hundred lost any of its value? Heck no it hasn’t! Nor have you! All have value in Gods eyes! Be encouraged to learn, try new things, ask them question! The folks that are high in there skill level were once a novice and they put on there waders one leg at a time just like anyone else. I love to teach the introverts when I guide or am just out on the water free fishing for that matter. I like it because I, in my nature, was one too! It’s so cool to encourage and get up there confidence in there fishing and see them experience a breakthrough! In return they are teaching me to be a better guide and build my confidence as a teacher! Louis’s saying is wise words! Be encouraged and pay it forward friends! God bless

    • JSA,

      I agree that there are some great benefits of being an introvert and learning from listening is one of them. I guess, what I’ve struggled with most is feeling comfortable around other accomplished anglers. Especially on the water together for the first time. And I put off learning to cast and fish a spey rod because of the intimidation aspect. Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful comment and I can’t agree with you more. Cheers.


      • Kent,
        I have the same struggle brother. I know where your coming from. I have to tell myself they are just people that put on there socks the same way I do lol. I think we psyc ourselves out because we elevate these people to a superhero status instead of seeing them as a cool person with a great skill we can learn from. So we defeat our self before we even start. Or, we worry about what they might think of our skills or worse yet, crack a joke on us or something like that. The reality of it most of the time is that what we fear the other person might think or say, dosn’t even enter there thoughts. Be happy with you and if others aren’t, smile and pray for them

  3. Great post and one I can relate to 100%. Friends are so important when it comes to stepping outside of our comfort levels. I know I wouldn’t have accomplished half as much in life (fly fishing) without them.

    Best of luck with the two-hander. I’m sure you’ll be a pro’s pro by 2015.

    • Wildcat,

      So true about having a tight group of friends that genuinely care and support each other. Louis has always helped me step outside of my comfort levels. I never would have had the courage to write like I do on G&G or grow as an angler like I have without his support. Thanks for the good luck for my two-hand endeavors. Cheers.


  4. Lessons for the water, lessons for life. I think many are held back by their inner introvert in all aspects of their lives. To the extent that we can conquer that voice that tells us to stay on the edges, to hold our opinions, to squelch our thoughts, I think we can all be a little more well rounded — as parents, friends, employees — heck, as humans. Good luck with your pledge. If I can help, let me know. Stripers will be at the mouth of the Housatonic in a few months. 😉

    • Well said, as always Steve. Thanks for taking the time to chime in and not sit on the sidelines. We’re really happy to have you as a loyal reader and supporter. Have a grand day.


  5. The introvert may hold just that one gem of knowledge that can “open the door” for others on a given day, or even a lifetime of flyfishing.

    Knowledge presented with a degree of humility, and not in a bragging or boastful way, is invaluable in our game. The simple fact is that no matter how good we think we are we always have something more to learn.

    Strangely, unlike most other hobbies or sports, the older one gets the better one can become at this game. I certainly met my aged flyfishing mentor many years ago and he inspired me to bigger and better things and to never stop learning!

  6. Interesting. I would think the generally relatively solo experience of fly fishing may by its very nature tend to attract those who contain a healthy dose of introvert and attention to detail.

  7. Kent, I struggle with the same issues. Its just to easy to walk around the next bend out of sight. Since January is the month of goals. You should make it a goal to teach someone to use a spey rod. – Schedule to teach a class? My goal is to teach and document rod building to support a class.
    Thanks – Keep up the great work!

  8. I’m late to the party but I figured I’d throw in my dos pesos. Like a lot of those that have responded, I’m also the guy that lays back and just soaks everything in before I decided whether or not to chime in on a conversation. Not because I don’t want to socialize, but to avoid that awkward moment when you say something stupid in front of a bunch of people. I like to make sure the subject is something I’m knowledgable about before I open my mouth. Now having said that, all of this is “pre-booze” rationale. Once alcohol gets involved, I don’t really give a rats ass who you are, or what I say to you for that matter….within reason of course. As for holding an angler back….sure. I can definitely see how not being more willing to put yourself in front of folks can lead to missed opportunities to learn and experience to things. Great subject man

  9. Excellent post, Kent!

    I would consider myself an introvert as well and at times it can be beneficial and others it can be a burden. Finding that balance of putting yourself out there is crucial. Fly fishing is a perfect past time for introverts as you it can be shared with others and also it can be done solo. I too rely on good extroverted friends to encourage me in fly fishing and life.

    Congrats to you and Louis on all you have accomplished by putting yourself out there and stepping up!


  10. Great, well-thought entry, Kent. As a teenager with very few CLOSE friends, I can consider myself similar to you at the same age (though without the bullies). All I ever wanted to do was fish; and finding another guy with a like passion for flinging flies was a difficult task.

    One summer while working as a commercial painter with my soon-to-be-married older brother, I was blindsided by his desire to learn to fish. That summer’s work was brightened daily by questions, one right after the other, and the challenge of conveying an accurate truth to my elder. He caught his first fish after work one day; and it wasn’t Christmas before he wanted to learn to fly fish, like me. Since then, I have noticed marked progress in my maturation as a fly fisherman, brought about through crazed conversation, friendly competition, text-messaged original fly patterns–typical fishing buddy stuff.

    Finding an outlet, and a mirror to help mold yourself into the fisherman you want to be, is a valuable and sometimes overlooked thing.

    Keep up the good work.
    All the best,

  11. Great post buddy. Our fly fishing world has definitely opened many of us up to the world. In a way far more than we would have been without this simply complex sport. There is a long list of people that I now have that I love to share words n water with. The key is dont be afraid just because of your skill level or knowledge to send an email make a phone call or talk to someone on the water. U might just build a bond that grows into the next gink and gasoline.

    • Thanks Charlie,

      I’m one happy camper I got the opportunity to meet you. You’ve taught me some tricks on the water and you’ve been the greatest friend any dude could ask for. The world needs a thousand more Charlie Murphy’s 🙂 Hope to see you soon buddy and catch some fish like old times.


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  14. THANK YOU, THANK YOU….. Your post came at a time in my life where I am trying to become a fly fisherman and a writer, not necessarily in that order. Your words made me dig out of my files one of my favorite quotes and put it on my office wall….

    “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” ~ Teddy Roosevelt

    Thanks, Kent, for the inspiration….

  15. Well you are certainly an inspirational introvert Kent! Cool post with some excellent points, well made. Here is to learning as much as we can and most important of all enjoying fly fishing with friends in 2014. And my own experience is going to be so much better now I have found this site … Thank you. Nick.

    • Nick,

      Thanks for that friendly comment about the post. It feels really good when our readers connect with the content we write. Cheers to you as well and lets both have a wonderful season of fly fishing.


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