Angler Types in Profile: The New Expert

by | Mar 28, 2021 | 14 comments

Here’s the thing about fishing: If you spend a long time casting into good trout water, you’ll eventually catch a bunch of fish. This is especially true if you care about improving your craft. It might take a few seasons before success finally sets in, but in truth, fishing isn’t all that hard. And time on the water provides even an average angler with many chances to succeed.

Early success causes some fly fishers to pivot to assumptions, believing that they’ve somehow skipped the decades-long process of learning and have jumped to the front of the line. Success becomes certainty, and they want to show it to the world. Born again, is the New Expert.

Trout exist to eat and survive. They’re not smart, can’t reason and have been duped with everything from a piece of cheese to a few strands of synthetic craft fur. And yet, every good angler I know is in a perpetual search for better information about how to fool a fish. Because while trout fishing can be easy, it’s more often a challenge that requires thoughtful contemplation, a deep understanding of the river itself and an unstoppable will to learn about the fish we chase. The New Expert misses most of these truths because his scope of experience is narrow. Because, after the initial difficulties of picking up a fly rod, he’s run through enough bite windows and hooked enough trout to suddenly overestimate his own knowledge and skills. The New Expert believes he’s reached a pinnacle, while in truth, he’s simply found the first plateau.

READ: Troutbitten | Angler Types in Profile: The Substitution Guy

New and You

We’ve all seen or run into the New Expert enough to recognize this angler type. His self-assurance is bold in the face of objection. He draws conclusions from reading rather than doing, from watching as much as catching. And then, natural human stubbornness and a few more fish on the tally than the next guy combines to elevate his self-confidence into arrogance. Even worse, he’s compelled to offer you his newfound expertise as unsolicited advice..

The New Expert might suddenly dominate every fishing discussion at the bar or in your Facebook group.

He might make a YouTube video featuring BIG WILD TROUT in the title. But you realize he can’t even throw a cast that turns over before it hits the water.

Or, she might take over the event planning of your TU club to focus exclusively on her favorite tactic, euro nymphing. (Because that always catches fish — all the time and everywhere. Right?)

The New Expert often gains proficiency with one method. And because it has produced well for the last few seasons, he’s thoroughly convinced that history will repeat. But fishing doesn’t work that way — not for long anyway. The joy of this game is that nothing remains the same, year after year or day to day. Tactics must evolve if we are to meet the trout on their terms and continue with consistent success. But the New Expert hasn’t been fishing long enough to understand this reality. He hasn’t yet gone through seasons of head scratching and wonder, meeting confusion with new questions, novel ideas and more time on the water.

READ: Troutbitten | Angler Types in Profile: The Old Expert

Photo by Bill Dell

Best and Worst

At best, the New Expert is a symbol of ambition. It’s good to see a friend or fellow angler find success and gain the confidence that drives them over the first few hurdles that most anglers never overcome.

At worst, the New Expert is an annoying reminder that fishing, like so many other activities, breeds competition. And the desire to outdo or outperform everyone else gets in the way of real connections and continued growth.

Most often, a reckoning comes for the New Expert, as failure eventually catches up with every angler who wets a line. So, humility is either accepted with a broader perspective gained and a fresh look at the future, or the New Expert gives up, falling on the pile of anglers who’ve come and gone, learning that the mountain of unknowns is a lifelong climb.

Fish hard, friends.

READ: Troutbitten | Angler Types in Profile | Series 

 

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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14 Comments

  1. Oh so well described. What is fun is watching the “New Expert” give advice and then it not produce. There’s two phrases you should always keep in mind.

    1 “Help me understand …”
    2 “This worked for me …”

    If you keep them in mind when receiving or giving advice, you won’t go wrong and fall into the trap.

    Fish Hard my friend!

    Reply
    • Lou,
      I was a school teacher years ago. I am also a guide in PA. So much carries over onto the water lessons. I find myself saying “this helps me” “this has worked for me ” “see if you can” and many more. You said it well.

      Reply
  2. 40 years with a fly rod and I always remember to be humble because the river doesn’t owe me anything.

    Thanks, Dom.

    Reply
  3. Pretty tough Dom. I know such folks can be irritating. But for most of us are on our own mission. I don’t much care. This sport is between me, the fish, and the river. Competition ruins the pleasure of fishing. I love your posts. Let them learn if they can.

    Reply
    • I definitely agree that competition ruins the pleasure of fishing.

      Cheers, buddy.

      Dom

      Reply
  4. There was an interesting research study in the late 1990s called Dunning-Kruger. In this study people were tested on their knowledge of a subject as well as what their level of expertise was about it. Ironically, the people who knew the least about the subject were more likely to overestimate their knowledge while the people that knew more tended to underestimate their knowledge.

    I often think about this when encountering other fisherman on the stream who are quick to offer advice rather than ask questions. To me an encounter with someone else who is fishing the same water is an opportunity to perhaps gain some insight into what strategies might work under varying conditions. I too share your sense of wonder and try to approach this sport with a humbleness and inquisitiveness that will allow me to improve.

    Reply
  5. I think Einstein said it best.

    “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

    He was the expert in his field at the time and he new he didn’t know everything. Conversely in my professional career, the guys that told you how they new everything or “they forgot more than you will ever know” were the guys that, as my father would say “don’t know their a$$ from a hole in the ground” and given a chance, they would prove that they didn’t have a clue. I will never do business with these types.

    Reply
  6. Interesting article and perspective. Competition on the water certainly distracts from enjoying the experience. I for one simply enjoy being a lifetime student of the beautiful endeavor of fly fishing and prefer to absorb information than dispel it. Like the old adage: “Silence is golden”. Appreciate the article…, always good insight.

    Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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