Is Fly Fishing Relaxing? PLUS a Little Fishing Psychology

Fly fishing requires a lot of planning and gear that could make life stressful.  It looks like fun, but is fly fishing relaxing?

The Quick Answer to Is Fly Fishing Relaxing

There are several ways to look at fly fishing as a leisure sport.  The purpose and reward or lack thereof really comes down to the individual.  It is one of the most challenging and artful styles of fishing to master.  In addition, your experience and interaction with the water is completely different than conventional fishing.  It can be relaxing for the right person.

What is the point of fly fishing?

This is a complicated question. You would think that the point of fly fishing is to catch fish, but oh no.  It is not nearly that simple.  If you just wanted to catch a fish, you would probably be using a conventional rod and reel. Fly fishermen are a different breed.

For some people including myself, the point of fly fishing is a relationship with nature.  It’s the same reason I hunt, camp, and hike every chance that I get.  Fly fishing for me is about the sun on my face and the sound of the moving water.  It is about seeing a herring fly across and a deer drink from the stream.  Even if I catch nothing, I am happy just being in the river.

However, for some people it is about the art of the cast.  They love the soothing back and forth of the line as they attempt to whip it out into the ideal spot.  Most of these fly fishermen enjoy watching other people fly fish almost as much as doing it themselves.

There are also the avid fly tiers.  These individuals are actually more focused on creating the flies than they are with the fishing itself.  The fishing is simply a means to test the quality of their work.  If they get a strike on a new fly, they know they did a good job.  If they do not, then it is back to the tying table.  They spend hours finding the right color thread, collecting the proper insects, and meticulously crafting their product.

There are the trophy fly fishermen as well.  Some people feel that your best chance for catching a trophy fish is with a fly rod.  Their sole purpose in hitting the river is to go after that monster that they have never even seen.  They are there for fame and for pride.  If you drive by trophy waters on any given weekend, you will likely see a slew of fly fishermen out there whipping their lines and praying for the big one.

There are people that enjoy fly fishing for the exercise and for an excuse to get out of the house.  You cannot deny it.  Fly fishing is good exercise.  If you go fly fishing at dawn and come home at dusk, you will likely be hurting.  Fly fishing involves constantly moving your casting arm back and forth all day.  If you have ever walked in the shallow end of a pool, you know it is hard work.  Now do that against the current and keep your balance while you cast.  Fly fishing is a serious way to stay in shape.

Finally, you have the fly fishermen that are out for the fish itself.  These folks are primarily looking to limit out and fill the freezer.  Either that or they want a big fat shore lunch.  Some of the best eating you will do is to cook a fish straight out of the stream.  Our family eats about 70% game meat and fish, so any time we can add back to the freezer it is a win for the team.

Is Fly Fishing Used as Therapy?

Fly fishing is absolutely used as therapy.  If you have had a rough day at the office, there is no better way to unwind than to hit the river and get some fresh air.  Many people find the consistent back and forth movement of the rod and line to be relaxing.

If you have a fight with the spouse, what better way is there to calm down.  Very rarely have I seen a mad fly fisherman.  It is hard to cast a fly rod without a smile on your face.

If you have too many thoughts running through your head, fly fishing can help.  It is one of those rare activities that requires just enough concentration to keep your mind clear.  If you are thinking about something else, you will quickly stop as your casts will not go where you want them to go.  On the other hand, fly fishing is not so complex that you must obsess over the way you are fishing.  It is the perfect balance to give you serenity.

Many people find simply spending time in nature therapeutic.  Often therapists suggest using recordings of rivers and streams to help you relax and destress.  Fresh air and sunshine are always good to reduce stress.  It is an activity about which you can always feel good, even if you catch nothing.

Is Fly Fishing Stressful?

It can be.  Fly fishing is in some way similar to golf.  If you take it too seriously, you likely will not enjoy yourself as much as if you don’t.  Some people spend weeks before a fly fishing trip studying the river.  They look at every bend and gravel bar.  They read dozens of fishing reports and contact a bunch of locals for intel.  They scrutinize their gear and look for any weaknesses.

Then the real preparation comes.  They decide their gear is not good enough, so they start doing research on replacements.  They read reviews for hours.  They read articles about the best rod for this type of fish.  They compare 27 different tippets before purchasing.  After all of the hours of research, they spend thousands of dollars on their gear.  In many cases, this puts a financial strain on their household.

It is just as bad when they get to the river.  They have flown 1000 miles to fish this river.  They get there and there are several anglers already wading in their spot.  Their plan is ruined.  They try wading up and down the river to find a comparable spot, but none of them look as good.  They start half heartedly fishing while waiting for their original spot to clear out.  All this time they are not paying attention to their casts and are landing in spots that are not ideal.

After several hours of this game they have caught no fish.  It is getting hot as the sun is beating down on the river.  Frustration starts to set in.  Our angler has now done all this preparation and has travelled all this way only to have everything ruined.

This is the perfect recipe for a stressful fly fishing experience.  Treat fly fishing like what it is supposed to be… a leisure sport.  It is a hobby.  As soon as you turn it into a mission, you take out all of the fun.

Is Fly Fishing Addictive?

Absolutely, but in a good way typically.  Fly fishing is one of those activities that is enjoyable on a good day and a bad day.  This makes it more appealing than activities in which you need success to enjoy yourself.  It keeps you coming back.  However, once you land your first big fish you will really be hooked.

The one type of person that must be careful with fly fishing is the gear hound.  These anglers will end up buying every new rod and reel that comes out. Fly fishing can get really expensive if you do not limit your spending.  Get a setup that you like and stick with it.  From that point your only purchases should be expanding your fly box.

is fly fishing relaxing

is fly fishing relaxing

I personally am relaxed just about every time I put on my waders and grab my fly rod.  I love being in the river.  Being able to look around and see both shores is a great feeling.  I love the back and forth movement of a rolling cast.  I love that perfect placement of the fly.  Bringing in fish is good too I guess.  If you have not tried it and are looking for a relaxing pastime, get a fly rod and get in the river.  You will not regret it.