I don’t know exactly what it is about fly fishing that lets everything else slip away, but while standing hip deep in the middle of a river, time manages to flow by faster than the water tirelessly pushing against your body. In an instant out on the water, you can suddenly find yourself 30 minutes away from the train station where you were supposed to pick up your wife 15 minutes ago.
It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that fishing is the third leading cause of marital strife in America, only slightly behind hiding money from your spouse (which fishing can lead to) and having a live-in mother-in-law (which fishing can be a cure for). The old slogan sums it up well enough: “the tug is the drug.” While fly fishing hasn’t yet received the recognition of other addictions such as alcoholism, there is something stronger than ourselves pulling us back to water again and again.
That “something” lies deep within our human nature. It drives us to escape our modern world and return to the great Nature which surrounds us. There we find a familiar place - a place of clarity, free from the stress and distractions that plague us in our daily routines. The only source of stress on the water is slack in the line which forms when a trout gets the best of us. But even then, we learn to let it go and move on to the next cast understanding that we were fortunate enough just to be part of that experience.
With each cast we attempt to imitate nature, to insert ourselves into the natural cycle ̶ not as an outsider, but as an immigrant to the wilderness. We watch as our fly settles on the water’s surface, perched on its hackle tips like a dancer up on point. We wait, watching intently as the fly drifts with the calm water, the surface smooth and undisturbed. Then, in only an instant, that tranquility is eradicated by an explosion of fins and water. The fly disappears, the line goes tight and some primitive exhilaration rushes from deep within us. We are back. We are back to the place we knew, know, and will know again because by becoming part of Nature, it has become part of us.