A Question of Confidence

In my life, I’ve been told a time or two that I should carry more confidence. As much as it pains me to admit it, I agree. Truthfully, most of us could stand to have a little more, don’t you think? Sure, if you bear too much, you might be accused of cockiness. However, if you can walk on the fine line that separates the two, confidence can work wonders in your everyday life. That air of self-belief helps people land jobs, overcome mental obstacles and even attract the opposite sex. When you think about it that way, confidence sounds like some kind of magic dust you sprinkle on yourself when you want something to go your way. Obviously, it is not. It’s an intangible state of mind that, when genuine, becomes visible to those around you.

Applications for this in fly-fishing came up over a dinner with Rogelio Velasco of Mexico’s Pesca Maya lodge recently. I asked him, “What’s the best fly for permit in the Yucatan?” He said, “Man, I like the one that works.” We had a laugh, but then he continued with an interesting point. All of the guides working at Pesca Maya have their favorite flies, and understandably, these are the ones they’ve had the most success with. Catching one permit on a certain pattern automatically gives confidence in that fly, so a guide ends up using it again. With each catch on that particular pattern, his confidence in the fly climbs higher and higher until, finally, the fly reaches go-to status. So what did I learn? I learned that a more appropriate question would have been, “What fly do you have the most confidence in for Yucatan permit?”

Having faith in a fly is one thing, but what about other aspects of fly-fishing?

Think about those occasions when you spot a tailing fish unaware of your presence or discover a perfect pocket in a shoreline where you just know a fish is sitting. You become so focused on the target that you forget about your cast completely. Yet even before the line leaves your hand, you know you’ve already made the perfect presentation. Of course, that could just be your skills as an angler shining through, but I’d like to believe that sometimes a subconscious wave of confidence takes over and has a hand in the outcome. And once you make a confident presentation, you don’t simply strip your fly willy-nilly, do you? No. Instead, your strips become very deliberate and strategic — you strip with purpose, or as others might say, you feed the fish.

We recently ran a feature originally titled "Forcing the Feed." In it you'll find a collection of questions presented to three of fly-fishing's greatest fish feeders. Not only do these three fellows display a huge level of self-belief when a rod is in their hands, but they all possess the unique ability to inject that confidence into the actual fly. They can make it strut through the water like a rooster with a new pair of shoes. Hopefully you will find their answers every bit as insightful as I did and the advice will build your confidence to a new level the next time a trophy fish finds its way into your cross hairs.