As fly fishermen and fly fisherwomen we take two minds with us when we go fishing. We take our subconscious mind, and we take our conscious mind. They work well together, if we allow them to. That allowing generally takes place by consciously staying out of the way of the signals that the subconscious is kind enough to send to us. It gives us some hints now and then, really good hints.
Here's how it works. Your subconscious mind is aware of 100% of the input that the world sends to it. It sees everything that the eyes take in, hears every sound that the ears can register, smells everything that can be smelled by the nose, and is aware of every square inch of your skin and what it is feeling from all inputs it receives. 100% of every sense's input is received, recorded and categorized, then stored away.
Some of that information is passed on to the conscious mind. Not all of it by any stretch though, the conscious mind can not be flooded by that much information and still function - hence the subconscious acts as a filter. Maybe something like 10% on average gets through, but it varies. When you are asleep your subconscious doesn't send on very much info, although it continues to get 100%. When you are doing an ordinary routine, like driving to work, the subconscious sends on a lot more information, but not nearly all of it. The conscious mind gets easily bored and turns inwards and begins to run little movies, rehash old arguments, hope for new victories, and in general just get and stay distracted until it has to focus for one reason or another. The conscious mind is like a kid, always wanting to be entertained. The subconscious is the adult, looking for the important stuff, watching out for danger, making associations and storing data for long term benefit.
Your subconscious mind not only categorizes and stores all of the input information, mostly in places the conscious mind can't reach, but it also correlates all of that information. It sees cause and effect and chains of association and stores that as well. If you could tap into the rich data mine of stored information and the correlations you'd be considered a genius. Your subconscious is a genius, a huge genius. And if you let it, that genius can work for you. In the old detective novels it was called a "hunch". Some call it intuition.
Fishing is a prime example of where and how it can help. You go fishing with your conscious mind, but your subconscious is there too, giving you hints the whole time. Your subconscious mind has stored every fly you've ever used, every cast you ever made, every fishing condition you fished in. It remembers, and correlates, every strike you've had with every fly and every condition. It remembers the water conditions and the type of water you fished in and where you caught fish. It remembers the difference between how many fish you caught near structure, and what kind of structure, and open water. It has every bit of data that was ever available to you about fishing, remembers all that data, and the correlations it made. It also stores all of the information you've ever read about fishing, or heard, or watched someone else do.
When you go fishing, you are probably paying some small attention to a few of the hints bubbling up to the surface without realizing it. You get an "urge" to cast between those two limbs because it looks like a place that might hold a fish. Some of that "urge" is from conscious lessons you've learned, such as that certain kinds of fish like to hold to structure. Most of that "urge" is from the lessons your subconscious has learned and stored - and is signaling to you, and without you noticing the signal.
Next time you go fishing, try to still your conscious mind and try to listen for those hints from your subconscious. It's no easy task to still the conscious mind - it gets bored and then it gets noisy in there, it's like a room full of kindergartners in there. And when you do still it, those subconscious cues are still very subtle and easy to miss. Have you ever left the house in the morning on the way to work and had a vague unease when you left the house, then got to work and discovered that you'd forgotten something, maybe your cell phone or you lunch or pocket knife? That vague unease was your subconscious signaling you that you were forgetting something. That's how subtle the subconscious signals are. Subtle, but well worth paying attention to.
If you get an urge to cast a specific fly, do it. If you get an urge to fish a specific place, do it. It won't always catch fish of course, but you may be surprised at how often it does work. It works a lot for me personally.
My subconscious is always pointing to a place to cast. Those places tend to have something different about them, but not necessarily something my conscious mind immediately notices. Something different from the average condition in front of me. It might be a place where rippled water meets smooth water. It might be a stump in a field of stumps, but this stump just "appeals" to me. That's my subconscious - it knows something about these particular conditions that makes that stump a good spot to expect a fish to be. It's probably a combination of angle of light, depth, current, cloud cover, width of the stump and maybe a hundred other small things that all add up to a place that my past history of fishing that my subconscious says is a higher percentage bet than the other nearby stumps. I listen to that information, and act on it. And in a gratifying number of times it pays off.
Reading water, especially new water, is something the subconscious is especially good at. It has correlated a zillion things about water and fish and it will speak to you if you are quiet and listen. You'll not hear words spoken to you like you may from your conscious stream of thought - instead what you'll get is a "feeling" that right over there, in that cove, yeah that looks like a good place to try. Some call it a gut feeling.
Always listen to those signals that bubble up from your subconscious - and when you learn to do that, you will have developed a fishing state of mind.
Edited by Lloyd5 (08/17/15 01:39 PM)