The Five Habits of Highly Effective Anglers

This year resolve to become a more effective angler by adopting these five habits

A boat this clean belongs to a highly effective angler


Adoption of this habit of the highly effective angler is a game changer. There are those guides and anglers who have the “fishiness” covered, but their boats, trucks, and fly boxes are a shambled mess of tackle, spent leaders and rusty hooks. Discombobulation can cost you at crunch time. I’ve been there but a few years ago I committed to organization. Flies, lines, leaders, tippets, tools, reels, and spools all have a home and I know where to find them. Take some time in the off-season to tidy up and consider fly boxes that are more management-friendly

A well-organized fly box translates to on the water success


If you don’t yet tie your own flies, you’re missing out on one of the key habits of highly effective anglers. Like leafy greens, thumb-twiddling hobbies have many health benefits. Fly tying stimulates brain activity and improves fine motor skills. While improving mental faculties, you’re creating a unique fly selection catered to the waters that you intend to fish. Time at the vise allows for creativity and visualization. Play a podcast or Mozart and allow the mind to wander into the water. Fly tying gets us thinking about fishing and any sports psychologist will second the power of positive thinking. Don’t think fly tying is a habit? Ask my wife

Fly tying is a useful habit with benefits well beyond a diverse and personalized fly selection


Myself and every other guide is continuously amazed by the lack of casting practice conducted by the general fly fishing public. We find it rather dumbfounding that anglers are willing to shell out for a week of guided flyfishing without first brushing up on the stroke. If you had a tee time at Pebble Beach, you would surely hit the driving range? Resolve to spend some time in the yard with a piece of yarn attached to a short leader. Work on loop control, distance, and accuracy. Its’ simple and 15 minutes a couple of times a week will translate into far more effective presentations on the water. Make overhead casting practice a habit. Trust me, it’s easier than adopting a regular yoga practice.

The lawn is the best place to develop fly casting habits to last a lifetime


Though spey casting is associated with the pursuit of anadromous fish and trout, the method applies to any and all fishing scenarios. At its roots, spey casting is about understanding the mechanics of water-loaded casting and directional changes. These fundamentals apply whether on the Wind or Walden’s Pond. The fly rod that you already own is a good place to start. The mechanics are the same whether casting with a 9’ 5WT or a 14’ 8WT. The only other prerequisite is a piece of moving water. You Tube is a nearly boundless source for instructional spey casting videos. Spey casting will become a habit once you’ve developed an effective Snap T or snake roll and you’ll wonder how you ever got by on the tight banks without it

Add spey casting to your repertoire and it will be soon become habit


One of the easiest habits of the highly effective angler; challenge yourself by wading into unfamiliar waters. This doesn’t require a passport or deep pockets. Targeting feeding carp or pike in the shallows is a worthy substitute for stalking a bonefish or a barracuda. These experiences demand a similar skill set and will test your casting and presentation skills beyond the norm. Utilizing water-loaded casts and strip-setting will become second-nature, and the muscle memory will be there if and when you do finally pull the trigger on that dream trip to the Bahamas

Exploring new fisheries is a habit of the highly effective angler


While tuning out is raison d’etre for outdoor pursuits, the benefits of apps and on demand data can’t be ignored. Highly effective anglers do their homework and stay atop of weather forecasts, road conditions, and river levels. The ‘ONX’ App is invaluable for research and navigation and ‘NOAA’ and USGS provide real time weather and river data, respectively. A new App, ‘On the Water’, puts all of this information in one place However, if you prefer the horse’s mouth, its still worth a stop at the local tavern and/or fly shop.