Take Time to Teach

May 13, 2024 By: Spencer Durrant

I’ve been involved in education for a while now (my current day job is as a high school English teacher, though that’s soon changing), and for the past two years I’ve focused on teaching the basics of fly fishing to beginners. Between my weekly podcast and semi-weekly instructional videos on YouTube, I spend hours each week talking about tactics and techniques, rarely discussing anything more complex than learning to recognize drag on your drift.

And I’ve noticed something these past two years.

My own fishing has become more productive. In part that’s due to learning my new waters (I moved to a remote corner of Wyoming two years ago), but I like to think that as I’ve been teaching the basics, I’ve improved my own critical skills.

Perhaps the most important lesson has been that fly fishing, at its essence, is fairly simple. You need to put a fly in front of a fish in such a way that the fly looks natural. Do that and you have wonderful chances of catching a trout. To achieve that, you need to know how to read water, how to pick the right fly, and how to get that fly in the strike zone without any drag.

When you take fly fishing down to its basic parts, it strips away the complexity. It forces you to focus on these simple steps, and when you spend so much time focusing on the basics, you see the flaws in your own skill set. Improving those building blocks of fly fishing has undoubtedly made me more effective on the water. Teaching has made me more confident in my own approach to fly fishing, and when you fish with confidence you fish better.

So, as summer approaches and the fishing really turns on, I’d suggest taking some time this year to teach someone else to fly fish. And don’t just tie on a bobber and a few nymphs, give a rushed explanation of the roll cast, and walk away. Take the time to teach the why behind the tactics, to teach proper casting mechanics, to educate about the importance of a good drift.

I bet you’ll be surprised at how much your own fishing improves.