Tag Archives: self flagellation

Degrees of Difficulty


I met up with Robert Tomes, who wrote the book Muskie on the Fly. Not surprisingly, when he fishes saltwater heĀ  chases permit.


“I like fish that don’t like me,” he said.

The comment turned the discussion to mapping the personal evolution of the fly angler.

Making the commitment to learn to cast a fly rod, and then catch fish with it, means you’ve already made a decision to make things harder on yourself.

At the beginning the focus is on just getting that one fish to fall in line. That first fish on the fly is like the stamp on your hand as proof of admission.You never want to wash it off.

Then it becomes kind of a numbers game; success is measured in the amount caught. Some people never grow beyond here, and that’s ok.

But for others the numbers at some point become meaningless.

Defined success gradually comes full circle, returning again to the act of catching a single fish. It evolves into a game about degrees of difficulty, where fishless days do not count as failures but as dues paid towards a singular goal–the one where you put everything together to hook a fish that has no business being hooked, a fish that prior to your presentation had used up every weapon in its arsenal to avoid this predicament. It’s high times.

The clinical term for this is masochism.