Tag Archives: negative emotions


27 Oct
With Halloween soon upon us, I thought I would submit an article on Fly Fishing Monsters. The within concerns the manner in which we battle the day-to-day stress, our internal monsters, through the art of fly fishing. There is a maxim of Friedrich Nietzsche which can assist us in understanding this point.
 You may be familiar with the following, oft quoted, commentary by Friedrich Nietzsche, “when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” The popularity of this comment overshadows Nietzsche’s preceding sentence which many fail to appreciate. It is, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.” (See Endnote # 1).

Friedrich Nietzsche, Circa 1875.


We all use the art of fly fishing to battle monsters that lay deep within us. The pressures of daily life, including, work pressures, family, school, dictates of relationships all impose a burden upon our sense of well being. Emotions such as stress, anger, frustration are counter productive to our desire for physical and emotional comfort. These negative situations and emotions are like monsters that seek to invade our sense of being. Through fly fishing we can keep those monsters at bay. More often than not, a day spent on the water can perform wonders for our sense of self. I say, “more often than not” because, we must keep Nietzsche’s maxim in mind as we seek the calming effect of casting a fly to a fish. Many months ago, I had a day on the Lower Salt River here in Arizona that reminded me of the import of Nietzsche.

It was the beginning of another hot, almost inhuman, summer in the Valley of the Sun. Two to three months of unbearable heat, exceedingly high ultra-violet indices, and air quality alerts lay ahead. The prospect of the hellish summer had put me in a real bad mood. I sought to quell my mood; to do battle with this emotional monster. I went fly fishing in the cool, swirling, bountiful waters of the Lower Salt. The only problem was that in seeking to do battle with the monster, I became the monster. I let my foul, fetid mood destroy my fly fishing. I had seen fish lurking below the waters surface. My mood should have instantly improved. When I started fishing, it became apparent that my fly fishing technique was infected by my mood. I waded the waters with the grace of a hobbled Frankenstein monster. My casting technique was so vicious that not only did I foul hook a few bushes, I snapped two flies off the leader. The more I tried to relax the more angry I became.

It finally dawned on me that I was now the monster I sought to cast off. I took a deep breath and performed a Goshin-Do Karate Kata known as Sanchin. (See Endnote # 2). I then put my fly rod down and sat on the gravel bank letting the sound of the river quiet me. The last remnants of a cool breeze blew through the canyon flowing past my face. I finally began to expel the monster of anger. Had I not realized that I became the monster I sought to battle, the day would have been lost.

So, when you turn to fly fishing to escape the “monsters“ of daily living, keep Nietzsche in mind.

To assist you in enhancing your fly fishing experience, you may wish to review two articles previously posted on this weblog. Both are filed in the category “Fly Fish Like A Karate Master”. They are: Improve Your Fly Fishing With Proper Breathing and Fly Fishing Using The Mushin State Of Mind.

Until the next article, I hope we all can be on our favorite waters, in nature, casting a simple fly in pursuit of our favorite quarry, successfully battling our internal monsters and avoiding becoming the monster ourselves.

Sensei John

1. Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good And Evil, Part Four: Maxims And Interludes, Number 146.
2. Sanchin is a Goshin-Do Karate Kata that combines deep abdominal breathing, physical movement and a quiet state of mind called Mushin. It takes less than four minutes to perform and is physical refreshing and mentally rejuvenating. For more on Sanchin please see my martial ideology weblog and click on the “Sanchin Book” page tab. WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


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