S2:E44 10 Fly Fishing Proverbs for the Soul

fly fishing podcast

Fly fishing proverbs are everywhere. In conversations at the fly shop. In stories after a big day on the river. And in books from our sport’s great fly fishing legends. In this fun episode, we lift ten fly fishing proverbs from the sayings of some of our great fly fishers and regale each other with stories about their truths. Proverbs are aphorisms, short statements packed with wisdom and, sometimes, humor. Steve even adds one of his own fly fishing proverbs at the end of the episode for the cherry on top!

Listen now to “10 Fly Fishing Proverbs for the Soul”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last portion of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoying hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

We’d love to hear fly fishing proverbs that makes you smile – or groan. Have you heard any great proverbs recently? Please share your sayings below.

Related Fly Fishing Proverbs Episodes and Articles

    “6 Fly Fishing Personalities You’ll Meet”

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We’ve published a book called, The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

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4 Fly Fishing Retirement Myths

I retired in my late thirties. I left a job with no upward mobility and started a business. I told myself, “Retirement is doing what I want to do.” It was harder than I ever imagined. About the time I gave notice to the company, my wife told me she was pregnant with our third child. Since then, we added a fourth.

And no, I am not on a trust fund.

The first three years was a white-knuckling affair. It took about a thousand days before I knew whether the business was viable. More than 20 years later, I’m still retired (working 60-hour weeks).

Part of my retirement plan was fly fishing. I decided that I didn’t want to wait until that magical day at 65 (or, now, 68 or 70). I wanted to fly fish and work, not fly fish after I stop working. I’ve had to debunk several fly fishing retirement myths in my mind as I’ve struggled to sustain a small business and integrate fly fishing into my schedule:

“I am not going to die.”

Up until my 40s, I was blinded by the thick veil of permanence. I thought I’d live forever. Now that a few of my friends are gone, the veil is slowly lifting. I’ve also been involved in two car crashes, both of which could have taken my life. In one, I was hit from behind by a semi-tractor trailer (the big kind).

Maybe there is no other way to escape this world other than by dying.

No one says this out loud, of course, but we often live as if we have forever to do what we love. We don’t.

“I will be healthy enough to fly fish when I retire.”

Maybe. Depends somewhat on my genes (my grandmother lived until she was 103); my father and mother are now in their mid-eighties. And somewhat on my eating and exercise habits. Oh, no!

No matter what, though, you won’t be able to wade as deep when you’re 65 as you could when you were 35. For sure. You won’t be able to scramble up the steep incline that takes you to the best fly fishing run. You won’t want to hike four miles to fish for cutthroat for three hours and then turn around and head back down the mountain before dark.

You just won’t. I know you’re a great athlete (in your mind), but your days are numbered. This is one of the most pernicious fly fishing retirement myths, simply because we all assume good health.

“I will, finally, have more money to fly fish.”

No. All the research indicates that Americans will be working longer than they expect. So if you have no money now to fly fish, most likely you’ll have no money to fly fish at retirement.

Figure out a way to create a line item for fly fishing (along with college tuition savings).

“I will have more time.”

Another big no. I don’t know a single person who is retired after a life of work and who sits at home watching Fox News or ESPN all day every day. There may be few folks like that, but most I know seem to be as busy as they were before. This is another of the fly fishing retirement myths.

If you have no time to fly fish now, most likely you won’t make time for it after you retire. Make time to fly fish now. Retire now. That doesn’t mean quitting your job. It means doing what you love.

And since fly fishing is what I love, I am fully retired.

Soothing Words for the Fly Rod Owner’s Soul

Some of the most encouraging words I ever read appeared on a little card I received back in 1996 when I purchased my first Orvis fly rod. The card simply said: “We will repair your broken rod for 25 full years, no matter how you broke it.”

Those are soothing words for the fly rod owner’s soul.

Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time. I thought, “That’s nice. But I won’t need it. All I need to do is be careful.”

After all, I grew up being careful with sporting goods.

When I was eight, my dad drilled it into my head that baseball players do not throw their baseball gloves. They oil them and otherwise keep them dry. But they do not slam them to the ground or fling them high into the air to free fall to the ground. When I was ten, my dad was emphatic that I take care of the 20 gauge shotgun he gave me for my birthday. If I handled it carefully, I would not break the stock if I fell, and I might not even scratch it. And I didn’t. I didn’t throw my baseball glove. It’s still in use forty-five years later. I also took good care of my 20 gauge shotgun. My sons both used it, and it’s ready for my grandsons to shoot when they get a little bit older.

So taking care of a fly rod would be no problem. I knew the old adage: “Most fly rods are broken getting in and out of a vehicle.” Or, they get stepped on when they are leaning in a closet or in the corner of a room. What kind of a fool lets that happen?

Uh, that would be me.

About a year after I purchased my first Orvis fly rod, I wandered into our mud room (what Montanans affectionately call a little room you enter from the side entrance of your house or from your garage). As its name suggests, a mud room is a place where you can take off your muddy boots or shoes. We had a coat rack in ours and some shelves where we stored canned goods. More importantly, at the far end, just beneath a window with a great view of the mountains to the north, I had a fly tying bench.

One night, I entered the dark room to grab a coat I had placed on my fly tying bench. When I stepped near my fly-tying bench, I heard a splintering, cracking sound. I felt sick, realizing that that I had just stepped on my fly rod. I remembered that it was leaning against my fly tying bench. I had placed it there to dry after a day of fishing in the rain. Now I had cracked it between the handle and the first guide.

Suddenly I remembered the words on the card: “We will repair your broken rod for 25 full years, no matter how you broke it.” Ah, what soothing words for the fly rod owner’s soul! A day later, I took my fractured rod to Fins and Feathers, the Orvis shop in Bozeman, Montana. I had to laugh when I signed the “Orvis Rod Repair Form.” Under the description of how the break occurred, the guy behind the counter simply wrote: “Stepped on it in the dark.”

If you’re going to invest in a fly rod, make sure you buy from a manufacturer that offers a rod-breakage guarantee — unless you’re buying a low-end rod and intend to upgrade. Most of the higher end rods come with generous replacement policies.

But don’t assume this.

Confirm it before you complete your purchase. You may think, “It won’t happen to me.” But it’s only a matter of time until it does. And when it does, you’ll want to hear or read those soothing words for the fly fisher’s soul: “We will repair your broken rod for 25 full years, no matter how you broke it.”

Even if you step on your rod in the dark.