When You’re in a Fly Fishing Slump

Fly fishers and baseball players share a common struggle. They sometimes find themselves in a prolonged slump. Anglers whiff on strikes just like batters, and one frustrating day without landing a fish can lead to another. Especially, if you’re a beginner fly fisher – and you have a string of days on the river with no stories to tell – you may wonder if the sport is for you.

So if you ended last season on a frustrating note, you may want to take heart from some of these lessons from baseball:

1. Just keep fishing

Often, this is all it takes.

Follow the lead of baseball players who hit their way out of a slump. Sometimes they can’t explain why they are struggling. They just keep taking good swings, and invariably their luck begins to change. Hard-hit balls start to go between fielders rather than to them.

Sometimes, the best solution is to keep casting, mending, and floating your fly down the foam line. Eventually, you will start catching fish. When the slump is over, you may not be able to explain “why,” and that’s okay.

2. Work with a coach

Mechanics can make a difference. Baseball players know this, and they turn to their batting coaches — as well as hours of video—to help them find a flaw in their swing. Fly fishers can do the same. Okay, you probably do not have video of the casts on your latest trip to the river. But you can engage a coach.

Where can you find a fly fishing coach?

Hire a guide for a day. Or simply invite a friend who is ridiculously good at fly fishing. Even a friend at your skill level may be able to identify a bad casting habit or the fact that you are not properly mending your line.

3. Go back to school

Maybe a fly casting seminar or a fly tying class will re-energize you. Perhaps you’re not doing anything wrong. But learning a new cast or a new dry fly pattern might give you an edge. At least it will keep you engaged with fly fishing until the trout stop boycotting your flies. Even something as reading a good fly fishing book or watching a good instructional video might lead to an adjustment which makes a difference.

4. Try something new

After all, baseball players try new bats when they are slumping. Now this is not a fool-proof way to fix your fly fishing flaws. But a little adjustment might change your luck.

Fish new water. Experiment with flies you do not ordinarily use. You might even try a different fly rod. I may just start a slump simply to buy a new fly rod!

The good news: Slumps don’t last forever.