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Living & Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing & Living

What if I told you that you could fish longer?

More hours in a day, more days in a year, and potentially even more years in your life.

For most of us, there is a way.

A significant part of what most fly fishers appreciate about the places where they get to pursue fish is the remote nature of such locales. Even in urban or suburban environs, getting to less pressured spots requires trekking a bit from the parking lots and easy access points. Although fly fishing doesn’t have to be an athletic endeavor, it does indeed require moving.

Moving requires exertion. Exertion, as you are well aware, gets progressively more difficult as it adds up. That happens over the course of an afternoon, a week, and a lifetime. Climbing up one more hill and down one more steep bank becomes a chore, rather than an adventure. The arm and shoulder motions needed for casting become more painful than the deficits in skill. A little ice turns into a big deal… or even a mortal threat.

Moving, as necessary a part of fly fishing and life as it is, can often be underappreciated. As difficult as an injury or illness that slows someone down is unto itself, the daily ramifications are often more debilitating. While fishing is hardly the be all end all of existence, losing time on the water because of inability is always frustrating to a passionate angler.

It might seem like a potentially dire picture is being painted. Certainly, health and wellness have substantial implications. But on a more practical level, being in shape means that you can take full advantage of your day on the water. Scampering across rocks, hiking miles, and temperature extremes are essential facets of some types of fishing. Being able to do those things adequately will literally put you in front of more fish. Even more practically, I’ve talked to many guides who will basically “size up” their clients to determine how hard and far they can fish. If you’re paying hundreds of dollars, being in peak physical shape for your age will get you the best bang for your buck.

Some circumstances are inescapable. Hereditary issues and accidents are one thing, but the effects age or general wear and tear are somewhat avoidable – or, delayable. People probably don’t get into fly fishing for the fitness benefits. However, once you start to fish the advantages of cardiovascular, muscular, and respiratory health become evident.

If you’re an aging or out of shape fly fisher, this isn’t a call to become a triathlete. But an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure, as they say. A few miles on the treadmill might give you that extra “umph” to push deeper upstream. Being conscientious about what you’re eating today can lead to being a little more enthusiastic about getting up and moving for fishing tomorrow. General exercise and nutrition will allow you to cast longer: in regards to length as well as to time.


  1. Nick Cef says:

    Fitness certainly isn’t a subject that gets written about in the fly fishing community very often, if at all. So it was both unexpected and refreshing to read your article. Thank you for writting about it, and for doing so in a non preaching manner. It’s something all us should think about and consider.

    I’m in my early 50s, myself, and have been on both sides of that fence. I suffered for years from almost debilitating knee and back pain, which, as you can imagine, isn’t very conducive to scampering around in freestone rivers. Eventually, I began to realize how much it was limiting me, not least of which was on the water. Long story short, I now make it a priority to exercise regularly (without being a total fitness nut) and to watch and consider what I eat. I can’t begin to tell you the difference it has made. Where I would once take a few steps into the water and stay at that spot far too long for fear of moving around, that’s no longer a consideration. Now, my days on the water can be limited by many factors, but my fitness level, strength, and agility aren’t one of them. I can’t tell you how transformative thats been for me.

    Thinking back, it really wasn’t that difficult. The difficult part was making the decision and committing to it. It didn’t take long to notice the imrovements. Better stability and balance in the water, more confidence while wading, more endurance, a willingness to cover more distances, longer days….

    Now I have a new fear, but it’s one that keeps me going. That’s the fear that if I don’t keep taking care of myself, my days of fly fishing will again become limited. And that is a very scary thought, indeed. So, even as I hate that I’m getting older, I’m keeping at itand looking forward to being able to work my way around the river for at least a few more decades. Really, what better motivation is there?

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