Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training

Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training

Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training

Thanks to my friend Charlie Nichols from Greeneville, SC for sharing this with me! It aptly applies to everything we do from a newbie to advanced levels. From teaching, casting, techniques fishing, fly tying, and all aspects of anything you pursue. It can be a great roadmap to success if followed. It is all about you and what you desire to accomplish!


Unconscious Incompetence

Unconscious incompetence is basically you are incompetent but do not realize it. Sound harsh? I think that all of us have been there at some point. This can be equated to going to a four-year college and your head is swimming with facts and figures. You have no real world experience, but your perception of the world is that you think you have it all figured out.
This is also the time in life where you will have to fail many times to pick up many life lessons and learn. The same thing happens all the time in the sport of fly fishing. This is where you are gullible and not sure even what to believe because there is such a vastness of material out there. So, how deep do you wade through the B.S. (not Bachelor of Science)?
This can be equated to America today in that someone gets a new rod combo as a beginner. They learn a few knots and patterns on YouTube. A few months pass and they are advertising guide trips all over social media. They have no value of experiences to convey information. Often these will be the ones you are most likely to see speaking for free at your local clubs in hopes of perhaps selling a trip.
They need to get the word out that they think they can really help you. Where did this perception come from in the first place? They might put loads of spare time into social media platforms from private waters with huge fish to stroke their ego. Chances are they will have 20k follows on Instagram, Facebook, and Tweets. We all know the type that has the gear now so therefore they are a fly fisher!

Conscious Incompetence

Conscious incompetence is that moment you realize that you do not know what to do. This is the area we fall into where now you attend some training to get better because you realized there was more. This is also where you eat humble pie to the admission that you did not know as much as you thought you knew. You seek to apply your master’s degree of what you learned of fly fishing and share it with the world. This is when you begin to view things and discern what is a waste of time and what benefits your knowledge base.

Hopefully, you choose this step wisely and it is typically not the free casting lesson at the local (insert BIG BRAND CHAIN) fly shop parking lot. Little value in that one for sure. Check out the students’ successes and who they had as a mentor. This is no different than coaches at all levels of mentoring in varied sports.

This is usually the stage of what many casting friends globally and I refer to as fluffies. They still post lots of things they learned by deepening their understanding of the sport online. They want to be in the limelight all the time. Many will hire bikini models holding exotic fish in choice destinations. This will surely sell trips and followers to a certain crowd.

These folks tend to play the game of agree with everyone so as not to rock the boat. They usually remain “rod shy” at large events because they are never witnessed making any type of fly cast. The reason they reiterate many falsehoods is because it works for their myopic view of fly casting. Why learn the understanding and lack an opinion when you can just copy others?


Conscious Competence

Conscious competence is when the “light bulb” comes on and you realize you know what to do, but you still have to think about it. So, we swallow humble pie again and seek out folks that can raise our abilities. This exists in every segment of the sport in fly fishing which is one of the beauties of the sport. The act of fly casting, building rods, strategies actually fishing, and fly tying are a few that come to mind. So we practice and practice more to make a commitment with the intent of where do we go from here?
This is the Ph.D. of education which only comes about through recognition of who will be that effective mentor to assist in taking you there? These are no longer the local mentors and you must reach out internationally to find other fly casting peers.
They may not even be in your discipline of study. For example, one of my heroes in fly casting never touched a fly rod in his life! Dr. Limming taught me more about understanding what was happening and how to diagnose it than all of the experts and icons ever in the sport! He taught mechanics and guided me during this phase where I was curious when teaching the fly fishing programs at WCU. Dr. Limming was a Harvard graduate in physics.
All peer instructors got this same type of person to help grasp the basic principles of the way things work at some point. It gives them an understanding which empowers them to go deeper. Deeper as in peeling layers of the onion!

Unconscious Competence

Unconscious competence is where now you can perform all tasks without thinking about it. You can also invent new things quickly which assist in problem-solving. You are at the peak of performance where you implement action without thought process. Often this is described as “flow state” in many sports. It is not to say you are perfect in every way because we all make mistakes.
The difference in this stage is when we make a mistake we understand why it occurs and fix it on the following attempt. These are the natural motivator instructors that thrive on helping others. Vince Lombardi says it best with the quote:

“Perfection Is Not Attainable, But If We Chase Perfection We Can Achieve Excellence” -Vince Lombardi

These four phases are only for you and you alone to answer. I will say that the older I get it is a must to surround yourself with the peers you respect because they are always seeking this perfection. In the end, we must settle for excellence knowing the other just might not ever be attainable. Keep pushing to the limits just in case it is though! Peers love to dissect mechanics, fishing strategies, and develop a highly keen eye for diagnostics of the “Big Picture”.  They are never rod shy at large gatherings!

Continue to learn tidbits and grow from all of the shared opinions if it brings value. The journey has no destination! That is the big difference between those in “flow”. They always seek more and remain incredibly humble on this path.

Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training

Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training

Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training

Fly Fishing Four Stages of Successful Training