Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fly Tying Adventure, Guest Post - Rodney Smith

A story by good friend, author, publisher and conservationist Caption Rodney Smith of Coastal Angler Magazine -

Rodney kissing his prize catch!
Looking back some twenty years ago to the first fly I tied brings back fond, humbling memories. My first fly was an extremely weird looking thing that didn’t resemble anything I’d seen before or since! It was a colorful combination of deer hair and meager chicken feathers wrapped around the shank of a silver hook. It was loosely wrapped with of a wad of yellow sewing thread.

I can still recall my pride afterwards. Even though I had a long ways to go before I’d show anyone my flies, I knew I was on to something much bigger.

I attended a fly tying class that was being offered by a local fly fishing club, Melbourne’s Backcountry Fishing Association. Not long afterward, under the supervision of master fly tier Tom Lentz, I started getting the hang of it.
In class, we tied simple and effective fly patterns. We learned classics like the Clouser’s deep water minnow, foam spiders, ants, and Lefty’s Deceiver. In no time, I was catching redfish and spotted seatrout in saltwater, and  bream and bass in freshwater on my creations. Learning to tie flies and catch fish with those flies lead me down a more copasetic path with nature with my fishing experience.

Learning to tie and catch fish with my own flies has been very rewarding and fulfilling. Besides learning new skills, first-time tiers become acquainted with the aquatic ecosystem. This brings awareness of important conservation and environmental issues.
Capt. Gabe Nybald with a silver salmon
caught on the Goodnews River in Alaska

Kids who want to learn fly tying need to become familiar with a few basic tools and materials. They’ll need an inexpensive fly tying vise, a bobbin with thread, scissors, hooks, and tying materials. These can be purchased in a beginner’s kit or separately at a retail sporting goods store, fly shop or on-line.

Today learning to tie a fly has become as easy as turning on one’s computer and googling fly tying. But, if you are fortunate enough to have a local fly club in your community contact them to see if they offer classes for beginners. These classes can be a wonderful gateway to an extraordinary adventure.
About Rodney - A Florida native, conservation advocate, and lifetime angler with an in-depth understanding of the economical and environmental impacts of Florida's recreational fishery.

Married thirty years, father of four, and community leader, for fifteen years Rodney has been the publisher of Coastal Angler Magazine, which focuses on fishing, boating and conservation.

Rodney's also a member of the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council's Grouper /Snapper Advisory Panel.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Practice Does NOT Make Perfect

Practicing is the act of rehearsing a skill or behavior over and over, or engaging in an activity again and again, for the purpose of improving or mastering it.  How many times have we heard, "Practice Makes Perfect"?  What if you are repeating behavior incorrectly over and over, does practice still make perfect?  I think not.  This might just be the most major piece of misinformation I was ever taught in school!
Used by permission from the creator, Mark Stivers.

If you have ever taken formal archery lessons, you'll know that there are certain steps to shooting an arrow out of a bow to make it not only fly true to hits its mark, but to have a safe and rewarding experience.  The physics of archery show us that if you execute each shot following each of the steps perfectly (or near), the arrow will go in the nearly exact same spot every time.  If you introduce a variable such as wind, or lose concentration so as to not take the shot perfectly,  the arrow will miss.  In the photo below, 100 students line up shoulder to shoulder at the 2009 National Archery In The Schools Program (NASP) World Tournament in Orlando, Florida.  In NASP, all of the equipment is identical except for color.  The difference measured in competition is the ability of the shooter, and how they have learned to follow each of the steps as near to perfect as possible in order to hit the 10 ring or bulls-eye at 10 or 15 meters. Perhaps we should say, "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect"?

I see my young archers and other shooting sports kids week after week practicing their skills, and while some are taking short cuts, not working on each step to perfection, others are following the steps, and their coaches advice, and it shows! 

Acknowledgements: Even though this article used archery as the main activity, almost any other activity could have been substituted of course.  Thanks Mark for the cartoon, and NASP for dedication to teaching archery to kids world wide! - Mr. Gus