Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Og factor

If you have not yet met my friend Og, a little introduction is in order. Og is a Neanderthal that I discovered is living in my basement. He is harmless, but not too bright. He takes an interest in my doings, so I sometimes take him to local parks and short fishing outings.

I have to be careful, because as dim as Og is, he more than makes up in strength and energy. He is apt to leap into the water and kill zombie salmon with his bare hands, or turn tackle into abstract sculpture by accident. He always is sorry afterwards.

Og has been pestering me to go fly-fishing for steelhead with a two-handed rod for several months now. I hesitate to do this for many reasons. Then, the other day, I found a cheap two-handed rod at a sporting goods store for $20.00. I figured “Why not?” I fitted it with a cheap spare reel and an old line, and invited Og to accompany me to the river.

He is quite excited as we walk down the path to the water. “Stop jumping up and down, Og, you’re making me dizzy!”

“Og fish! Og cast good! Og splay cast!”

“Actually it is ‘spey’… never mind. Stop swinging from that power line and come down here Og.”

“Og fish good!”

“Right, but first I need to teach you how to cast a two-handed rod. It is not about strength, Og, but involves a bit of finesse. O.K. Now take the rod like this, swing it around so, and then sort of pull and push with your arms, and cast it out. I am starting you out with a floating line for now.”

“Fromoting rine good! Where fish?”

“They are in the river, Og. Just make a short cast.”

Og tries for the next half-hour to make even a single cast. He manages to wrap the line around his head, hook me in the ear, and fall down several times.

“Og mad! Og kill”

Og manages to see a squirrel and chase it into the woods. When he returns a few moments later, he has fur all over his face and a tail sticking out of his mouth.

“Feel better Og?”

“Og frustrated. Splay cast hard. Shoulder hurt. Squirrel taste funny.”

“Maybe you should not eat raw squirrels that… oh never mind. Look, Og, your shoulder hurts because you are trying too hard. Lets start you off with this spinning rod instead.”

“Og spin good!”

Og manages to create a bird’s nest of line, and fall into the river.

“What Og do wrong?”

“Hmmm, I expect we might just try this cane pole and a bobber for now.”

“Og bobber good!”

Og manages a sort of flop cast that ends up in bouncing the bobber off of his head. In frustration, he eats the bobber.

“Og bobber crunchy!”

Yes, well….

To make a long story short, I was never able to teach Og to cast that day. We returned home instead, and Og returned to his corner in the basement.

I had tried a fly-rod, a spinning rod, and a cane pole, all to no avail. What type of rod and line would enable Og to make even a basic efficient cast, I wondered?

Then it hit me. Og was sort of human. Could it be possible that he was limited by his lack of skill? Was it possible that it was not about the rod, line, or style of fishing at all, but instead stem from Og’s lack of practice? After all, I remember hitting myself, hooking myself, and falling in the water too. Perhaps Og was human after all?

The Og factor… the human factor. The 99% slice of the mastery pie. It seems that this is always the last thing to be examined. Instead, we attempt to compensate for our lack of skill through adoption of ‘more efficient’ tackle and styles instead of realizing that as Og Shakespeare found, “The fault lies in ourselves, not in our squirrels.”


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