The Sharp End of the Boat

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Photo by Steve Seinberg

Photo by Steve Seinberg

By David Grossman

Looking back on my few successes and many failures, the thin line between the two was usually mental.

There are plenty of folks more qualified to talk about knots, casting, tides, and the thousands of other factors that go into becoming a proficient saltwater fly flinger. What I am qualified to write about at this moment in my saltwater career is the sharp end of the boat, and how you might be defeated before you even step up to it.

I don’t like casting under the focus of others. I don’t do casting ponds. I don’t like first shots. If my buddy gets up first and screws up a couple of shots, I feel the pressure to perform is off of me somehow. This is a horrible attitude to have. Over the years I have watched countless friends catch the only fish of the trip on that first shot. Saltwater opportunities come few and far between, and while I don’t advocate taking out your buddy with a lead pipe to the knee, you have to want to be on the front of the boat. In saltwater fly fishing, the meek will not inherit the earth, but they will spend days sitting on their ass in front of console watching other people get shots and catch fish.

My weird phobia of the sharp end of the boat is most likely related to never feeling like the cool kid on the water. I taught myself to cast (it turned out poorly), and I never wanted the people I was with to know that I wasn’t as competent as them with the stick. This is also a stupid reason not step up to the sharp end. If your buddy is on the boat, outside of the normal level of shit talking, he is your buddy and probably wants you to succeed as much as you do. As far as the guy on the platform…you’re either paying him or he’s a buddy, too…so don’t worry about it.

I always thought visualization exercises were kind of hokey. That is until I realized that feeling of impending doom — when I stepped up to the bow — was a manifestation of visualizing myself blowing the shot. The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes to mind. The few times I was so pissed off that I quieted my demons, determined to make the shot out of sheer spite, were the few times I was met with success.

It’s easy to get spun up in your own head when you’re on a flat, but I guarantee the best way not to catch that fish is to never step up to the sharp end of the boat in the first place.


David Grossman
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “The Sharp End of the Boat

  1. I fish with a buddy who has no trouble what so ever taking the front of the boat. It’s frustrating to fish with him sometimes because he has no trouble running to the back if the school moves that way. I started to fish by myself. I’m enjoying my time that way much better, if I’m on a trout stream or fishing the salt. I hear what you’re saying though.

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