Why Fish For Zen? #4: Going with the Flow


©2022 Cari Ray, The Fisher of Zen

I firmly believe that fly fishing within a context of mindfulness practice is immeasurably beneficial for mind, body, & spirit. Sometimes by offering low-hanging fruit like fly casting and being in nature. Sometimes by offering situations that border on tedious or frustrating, presenting us with the choice to get bogged down or to rise above. Like most healthy choices, it gets easier with practice. In the “Why Fish for Zen?” series, I’ll highlight just a few of the opportunities offered by the pursuit of fly fishing that give you a chance at that sort of mindfulness “practice” and help you become more balanced and centered in your daily life. Mastery is never about your relationship to anyone or anything else, it’s always between you and you.

I was guiding a couple of folks from Houston for trout on the Guadalupe River this season past. They said they wanted to learn how to become better independent fly anglers, and I believe a wade trip is the one of the best ways to do that. So we made the plan and met up bank side. We had just begun to practice the modified roll cast I like to teach clients for indicator fishing. As they practiced the cast and learned to anticipate the mends necessary to manage a good drift, one of them (who was doing quite well, I might mention) was growing frustrated at an apparent lack of perfection and confessed that they were really competitive and often hard on themselves.

“Okay,” I said, “let’s just stop for a second and look around at the beauty that is all around us. Take a deep breath. There’s nothing to worry about here and now. You’re doing better than you think. But either way, if you make this trip all about perfecting fishing techniques and landing fish, you’ll miss out on a lot of what’s available to you. The river can both soothe us and teach us if we’ll let it. In your case, I encourage you to focus on the flow. Just flow with the river today. The rest will come.” 

Some fly anglers would tell you the release is the best part…

And it did. Both clients landed their personal best rainbow trout that day, but more importantly, they let go of their attachment to results and allowed themselves to be immersed in the moment, to “go with the flow”. And in choosing that, they were bound to have a great day on the river…that had nothing to do with counting catches.

To listen to the whole series, check out our podcast:
“A MOVING MEDITATION: Fly Fishing & Mental Health”

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