• Evan Dintaman

The Art of Unpreparedness

Guest Contributor: Joe Dahut


Anglers have an insatiable desire for gear - more, new, old, technological advances, whatever the case may be - we love it all. Sometimes that curse of relying on gear keeps us from enjoying precious time on the water. That is the goal, isn’t it - having fun? We have varying rod sizes for every different species, fly boxes brimming with hand tied masterpieces, and miscellaneous gear for a host of reasonable (and sometimes unreasonable) occasions.


Have you ever forgotten a piece of gear you once depended on? In those instances, an angler’s creativity and artistry will show. Most of us did not find our fishing roots knee deep in a technical dry fly fishing situation, where the fly had to be an exact imitation, in correct size and color, for a fish to even think about eating. Most of us started at the bass pond, with worms and a bobber, otherwise known as the perfect personification of simplicity.

In a flurry of spring cleaning, I came across a lot of gear stored away I had either used once and forgotten about. I found some rusted out flies and some still waiting to get the call from the bench. I recalled memories of fishing at the local bass pond, with minimal materials and a general reverence for the nature I surrounded myself in. Recently, I took a trip to Shenandoah National Park, one of my favorite places to fish for native brook trout, and decided to preserve an essence of the old bass pond. Being from Maryland, the typical trout fishing landscape includes parking next to the stream and trotting down mere feet into the water. This is not the case in SNP - the stream is considered a backcountry habitat, so anything one needs for the day must be packed in and brought back out, leaving no trace. Knowing this, I decided to relinquish the desire to bring hundreds of flies or more than one rod. Instead, I packed only the dry flies and small streamers I saw myself using that day. This decision of limiting myself was conscious, but was done strategically to provide myself the joy of letting go.


Of course, being prepared sometimes equates to success on the water, but I have found the impulsive art of unpreparedness will reveal what kind of angler you are. By limiting your gear, you can you focus your attention on getting the fly in the water, instead of fooling with that nymph rig that’s always getting tangled. Allowing yourself the freedom of imprecision will give you more space to enjoy yourself in nature. If you are going out to catch as many fish as you can in a given amount of time, fly fishing may not be the correct vehicle to use. Next time you head out, think about where your love for fishing and the outdoors started. Don’t worry about having the exact mayfly imitation - take an educated guess, do your research, and leave the fidgeting behind when you slam the trunk shut for the day, maybe you will surprise yourself.


Joe Dahut currently lives in Brooklyn, New York as an MFA candidate in Poetry from NYU. His writing can be found in The Drake, Tail Magazine, and Strung. In the summer, Joe guides in Kodiak, Alaska for salmon, trout, and char.


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