Close your eyes, now visualize the perfect water… Visualization and fly fishing

26 Mar

How do you look at water? I stare at it, glance at it and sometimes study it for what seems like hours looking for signs of life. It is like a disease.

I can’t drive over a bridge without checking out the water level and general topography of the river, if not for but a fleeting second. Talk about distracted driving.

I really can’t be around water without fishing it.

Every time I see water I ‘fish’ it. Well I imagine fishing it. I look at the water and I see myself fishing the structures, the holes pockets and riffles. I visualize how I would start and where the fish are holding. This may sound ridiculous, but it’s true.

Everyone knows the value of practice for your muscles. When you physically repeat motions you develop muscle memory. This is very important in fly fishing as it allows you to think about the presentation of the fly versus the motion of fly casting while fishing. (If you doubt the benefits of muscle memory do this simple test: perform a double haul cast with your non-dominant hand. This requires lots of muscle memory.)

Visualization is simply brain training. When you visualize something repeatedly, you can just go through the motions when it is really time to apply yourself.

Visualization is a powerful tool used by elite athletes. They visualize the future they want to occur. The plan, the run, the swim, the jump or the play, is played many times over in their mind before they actually perform at their event. Michael Phelps has used visualization for years, since childhood, to picture his perfect swim.  It is an essential part of his training, which allows him to focus on the tiny details of his gold medal swims rather than having to think about the big picture.  Plus when he lines up for a big swim, he has already completed the same race in his head hundreds of times.

So I study water. Riffles and pools, bays and inlets, ponds, lakes, weedbeds, logs, rocks, docks, and all other structures. I also look at pictures of places on the internet, river/lake bottom maps and Google satellite pics to determine where I will fish when I get there.

Of course, some people may call this a waste of time, or at the very least day dreaming.  But I think it is a very efficient use of time off of the water.  I can do it while on a walk with my family, reading a fly fishing magazine, or sitting in front of the computer planning my next trip.  It is part of my ‘approach’.  It has helped a handful of times by allowing me to get on the right side of a river at the right crossing and avoiding back tracking.

Give it a shot. It is free, and it just might help your next trip to the water.


6 Responses to “Close your eyes, now visualize the perfect water… Visualization and fly fishing”

  1. stevegalea6953 March 26, 2013 at 5:13 PM #

    Visualization is an accepted technique in shooting. Why not in fly fishing?

    • hydroflynamic March 27, 2013 at 5:45 AM #

      Yeah I have tried to figure out the strip set over the winter. I think I got it but I’ll need a big pike to test it out on. Come one May….

      • stevegalea6953 March 27, 2013 at 5:48 AM #

        Visualization is nothing without actual practice, young Jedi.

  2. Steve Culton March 26, 2013 at 8:05 PM #

    RE: Every time I see water I ‘fish’ it. Well I imagine fishing it.
    Yup. You are not alone.

    • hydroflynamic March 27, 2013 at 5:46 AM #

      Thanks Steve. When I went to the IF4 show here in Ottawa I was surrounded by others who would drive off the road because they were checking the water. It is great to feel at home.


  1. How do I follow-up a skunky day on the water? Research. | hydroflynamics - April 3, 2013

    […] to fill the boxes, build some leaders, find a location that is a bit closer to my house and do some visualisation for the next time I get to target these silver missiles.  Because I want to be ready for the take, […]

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