Fly Fishing Log 2 – Use analysis to change the way you fish.

8 Mar

Keeping a fly fishing journal is a good idea. It allows you to keep a memory of specifics about your previous days of fishing that may otherwise be lost or forgotten. For more on keeping a fishing log see fly fishing log part 1.

There are many ways to improve at something. Practice, coaching, observing others, reading books and other media. With the exception of practice, all of these methods require another person to provide material or feedback to use for improvement. One of the paths to improvement is through careful review of observations data or other feedback, and you can do this yourself.

The method that I learned early in my career is the PDCA system. Plan-Do-Check-Act.

The first two steps in the PDCA cycle we all do anyway. Plan and Do. We tie flies or buy equipment and flies to perform the task of presenting something to a fish in hopes that they eat it. Every time we tie a fly for our boxes or make a choice in the fly shop we are planning, and when we fish, we are performing the Do step.

The next two steps are the toughest. The Check part of the system is actually two steps for the fly fisherman. The first part is to monitor performance. This is easily done with a log of some sort, either manual or digital. The logging should be done regularly as soon as possible during or after each outing.

The second part is to analyze the data, the notes, and the results of our fishing trips. The timing for the analysis is very flexible. Depending on your fly fishing goals you may review your data once a week, or once a year.  I recommend at least once a year.

If one of the goals of an angler is to refine the fly patterns they carry, they may review the previous years log to determine which flies worked and which didn’t. Or further refine to determine which months are best for certain sizes or patterns.  This can help when fish are fussy, especially if you know what worked during similar conditions last year.

I find that this is a very easy way to figure out which flies are your go to or confidence flies. They are the flies that seem to catch fish every time you put them in the water.  Knowing your confidence flies can turn around a tough fishing day. Mine is a Double Standard in size 14.

While a manual log is easier to fill out by the stream, they are harder to analyze then a digital fishing log. The digital logs offered online are excellent or with a little Excel know how you can create a fishing log that captures everything you need. You can then use the tools in excel to filter by fly type or sort by size. You can sort by temperature range or other weather conditions. You can really quickly figure out a pattern or presentation that should work next time, next month or next season. You can really change the way you fish, not just because of something you read or a pattern you saw in a book, but because you observed something and recorded it.

I used to just fish and wait to improve, with the use of a fly fishing log and some periodic review, now I am improving my fishing each year.  I carry fewer patterns, make more informed on river choices, and start sweating when the weather starts to turn just that certain way, because I know the big guys are coming out to eat.

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One Response to “Fly Fishing Log 2 – Use analysis to change the way you fish.”

  1. Steve Culton March 8, 2013 at 10:37 AM #

    RE:The logging should be done regularly as soon as possible during or after each outing.

    Absolutely. Of course, if you’re a procrastinator who recognizes and embraces his inner sloth, you will take the time to record your outing on your smartphone’s voice recorder for later download to pen and paper. Someone who looks a lot like me does that.

    God, I’ve gotta get to writing down January.

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