Learn from what you’ve done to improve what you’re going to do.

My typical trip back home after a day of fishing is usually about an hour’s drive. I spend that time unwinding, catching up on podcasts, and most importantly, processing the time I just spent on the water. It’s a time to reflect on how I did, what the conditions were and what I learned.

Because every trip is different, it’s important to process the outcome in order to draw similarities and conclusions that can be used later. What were the weather conditions? How was water flow? Should I have placed myself on a slightly better angle in that last run? Why did most of the hookups come from right around that same rock?

All of these questions are important things that I process in order to find answers. Answers that will hopefully help me become better the next time I go fly fishing again. One of the most important things you can do as a fly fisherman is build up an internal database of knowledge that can help you improve going forward.

If you’re not learning something every time you fish, you’re doing it wrong.

I believe that you should always reflect on the good–and bad–after a day on the river. It opens up ways for improvement, and I can always use improvement when it comes to fly fishing. And while I don’t judge a day on the water in terms of success, I do always try to make sure that I’m giving myself every chance for success that I can.

As I sometimes like to say, “Some days you’re the bird, and some days you’re the shoulder.” In fly fishing, you’re going to experience both the good days and the bad days. If you want to heavily favor your chances towards more of the good ones, then you have to learn from what you’ve done so that you can improve what you’re going to do.

This mindset has certainly helped me become a better fly fisherman, and I hope it does the same for you.