Teaching Your Spouse to Fly Fish: 5 Ways to Get Them Started
There are many schools of thought about fly fishing with your spouse.
One school of thought goes something like this...” this is my time by myself or with my friends, it’s my thing.” One person fishes, while the other does something else.
If that works for you, you do you.
The other school of thought is “I would love my spouse/partner/friend/relative to join me in this amazing setting and love the sport the way I do.”
This article is going to assume that you are from this school, but you are concerned that, like most things, first impressions are lasting impressions.
For the sake of this blog, let’s just focus on that significant other that you want to join you on the water. I think teaching your kids to fish, requires some of the same strategies, but they are slightly different.
Teaching friends to fish means you don’t have to do any of this. With some friends, if you just make fun of them enough, they’ll figure it out just to prove a point.
So, we are going to focus on that person that knows how to push your buttons and that you know how to push their buttons.
My strongest recommendation is to stay out of it.
That’s right, regardless of how good your relationship is, the teacher/student mindset screws couples up.
So, when I say stay out of it, I mean, be the enabler of the success, but don’t be the reason for the success.
Ask them what the perfect day for them with you on the water would be and make that happen.
For some couples, the perfect day may include some instruction and catching fish, but it also may include time to just be together.
It may mean you don’t fish 8 hours straight, with no lunch and no bathroom break.
If you really want your spouse to fish with you, then make sure they go the next time you ask. Get them to go with you once and then again, that should be your goal.
Here are the 5 Strategies for Teaching Your Spouse to Fish:
Hire a Guide
Don’t try to teach your spouse yourself. Even if you can fish yourself! Inevitably, someone will get mad, and the experience will be ruined.
Like I said above, be the enabler of the experience, don’t be the experience.
You can be the most patient, caring, loving spouse in the world, but the pressure of getting your spouse on a fish is overwhelming. Trust me, no matter who the guide is, we all breathe a little easier when a client catches a fish. And we do this all the time.
The pressure you will feel, to get someone you care about on a fish is even worse.
Every little mistake, every time they don’t set the hook when you tell them to, unsaid word, look will be scrutinized to a painful degree.
Don’t put yourself or your spouse through it. Hire a guide.
When you hire a guide, make sure they understand the skill level and make sure that their style will be conducive to learning. Set the trip’s goals and expectations with the guide upfront.
Be clear on what you are trying to achieve.
Also, don’t be the person that says “Concentrate on (fill in the blank), I can fish” and then when we do, and they out-fish you, complain that the guide didn’t spend any time with you.
Many beginners are simply better listeners with no bad habits. They may catch more fish than you.
Plan a Picnic
Take the opportunity to plan a great food experience.
Here is your opportunity to plan that great picnic with, yes, tablecloths - if there are tables and real silverware, not a soggy sandwich but a real meal!
I suggest that if your guide service offers it, and you are wading that you make it a half day.
Many people get tired after the first 4 hours of fishing, and when lunch comes, it is really hard to muster the energy to regroup and head back out there.
Consider going for just a half day, and make a great lunch.
Many guide services don’t provide lunch for half days, but that’s ok, you do it!
Make Sure The Gear Fits
Bad gear takes away from the experience.
Just like skiing, if the gear doesn’t work or fit, it can be a long and miserable day.
Your guide should have good gear that simply works. Make sure that your guide has the sizes that you need.
I bring several different size boots so that they can have the best fit. Guides will ask you some pretty personal questions, such as waist size, shoe size, throw right hand, left hand and sometimes your weight.
Most guides have all different size waders/boots and the more informed they are, the better they can match the gear to the person.
Keep Expectations Low
It shouldn’t be about catching fish at all.
Remember the part about setting a goal for the day and doing it? I often hear, I don’t care if I catch a fish, I just love being out here.
If the goal is to catch fish, I recommend asking Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop if you could fish in their aquarium. The answer will be No, but that’s the point.
It is not about catching fish. If you aren’t laughing, smiling or looking up with deep appreciation for where you are, then perhaps the goals need to be adjusted.
Now, that isn’t to say that catching fish should not be a goal, it just shouldn’t be the only goal.
I have a client that I am taking who is bringing his wife. He wants me to guide his wife because she has never caught a fish on a fly rod. So, that’s the goal. He said that he is happy to fish on his own and just have me concentrate my guiding efforts on his wife.
So, that’s the goal, and that’s what we will do.
Of course, that might change when his wife out-fishes him, but we will deal with that as it comes.
Commemorate The Event
I am writing this blog post at a beautiful golf course for a corporate event. No one wants to see me golf–least of all me. Many corporate events include a massive amount of swag to celebrate the event. Partners help sponsor this event, so everyone is giving away your typical hats, t-shirts, beer koozies, etc.
suggest you make your event something memorable.
It doesn’t have to be a customized hoodie with your spouse’s name on it, but maybe some little trinket that you can buy near the river.
Fly shops located on rivers usually do a pretty good job at promoting the river. A sun shirt with the name of the river is always useful and fun.
You can also commemorate the event by taking lots of pictures. You can take the best of the pictures and have them printed out into a little book. Whatever you choose to do, celebrate the event!
If you do this all right, maybe they will go with you again. And that’s the real goal!
Do you need to do all of this? Not necessarily, but I can assure you that, like most things, if you make it about them, everything will tend to go better!