How to be better than average

I only hooked our guide a few times when we were fly fishing. You’re not supposed to hook the guide; you’re supposed to hook the fish. Hooking your guide happens when your cast is so shitty that your line gets wrapped around your body, and someone else’s, and it hooks the back of your shirt or your neck.

Fly fishing is different than regular fishing. When you’re fly fishing you’re trying to lasso fish all day, so I thought. If you see a school of fish 50 feet in front of you, you’ve gotta get momentum in the line by doing a few false casts (or lassos), then on your last cast you try to drop the hook right by the school. Then you just wait for them to bite. If they don’t bite, you move on about a minute later and do another lasso. So you’re moving, all day. I like that.

When you’re just doing regular fishing, you just sit there with your rod in the water and drink beer. That sounds fun too, actually.


We got to our hotel in Los Roques at about 8:00 a.m. last Sunday. I chugged a bunch of coffee and scoped out our digs – I like to get the lay of the land whenever I’m somewhere new.



My Dad and his friends are kinda diehard fly fishermen, so the scoping didn’t last long. We put our gear on and headed out at about 9:00 a.m.

The first day we went out, I stood on the bow of our boat all day and the guide did most of the casting from there. He needed show me how it’s done.


He was amazing: we’d be about 100 feet away, he’d cast, then drop the hook in the water about 1 foot from the fish’s mouth. The not so amazing part was that after he’d do a perfect cast, he’d hurl the rod at me and yell: “Set the hook!”

“Huh?” I said

“Set the hook!!”

“I don’t know how to do that, I only know how to cast”

“Set the hooook! MIERDA MIERDA, you let the fish get away, JESUS!”

And that pretty much sums up our first day of fishing. Where’s.My.Cocktail.

My Dad and I spent a lot of time practicing my cast before we went to Los Roques. We’d go down to the beach in Santa Monica or we’d go to the park near his house; he’d smoke a cigar while I’d practice making loops in the air with my cast. I’d even do some practice casts in my car while I was driving, without my rod of course, I’d just practice the motion with my hand to make sure I didn’t forget what it felt like – kinda like people practice their golf swing without a golf club in their hand.

So when I spent my entire first day fishing with the guide doing most of the casting, throwing the rod at me, yelling “set the hook!,” followed by several “MIERDAS!” I was feeling like I failed.

On the first day of fishing the guide could care less about my cast, but he was insistent on me knowing how to set the hook, which I had no idea how to do.

Seriously, why was he so hung up on me setting the EFF ing hook!!!? Over a few mojitos with my Dad and his friends at sunset, I learned why.



Knowing how to cast and drop the fly near the fish is one thing, but knowing how to hook the fly in the fish’s mouth once they bite so they don’t get away, knowing how to let your line out and let the fish run, knowing how to reel the fish in when you feel some slack, knowing how to let more line out when the fish starts to run again, and knowing how to do this over and over again for 5 or 10 minutes is the only way you’re gonna catch fish, regardless of how good your cast is.

By the third day, I learned how to set the hook.


Sometimes the fish are 10 feet in front of you, it’s just hanging out there for you, IT IS YOURS, and you don’t even need to cast.

But if you don’t know how to set the hook, you’ll miss your chance, and you won’t catch the fish.



Instead, most people will spend countless hours trying to get a meeting with someone important but they’ll forget to prepare a list of questions and an objective for the meeting. They’ll fumble around during the meeting and then the important person thinks they’re an idiot, because they are, and all the leg work to get the meeting was pointless.

They don’t know how to set the hook.

Instead, most people think they’re doing the right thing by working with their head down in a 9-5 job their whole life, but they ignore the fact that they’ll be broke at 60 if they’re not saving the right amount, now, so all their hard work didn’t even help them build their future.

They don’t know how to set the hook.

Instead, most people will spend hours making a really slick power point presentation, but during the meeting they’ll forget to engage people, on a human level, because they’re so obsessed with their lame corporate power point presentation. No body listens, and their presentation is a bust.

They don’t know how to set the hook.

Instead, most people brag about saving diligently, but they forget to rebalance, so their money is eventually worth far less than they thought since the didn’t have the right asset allocation for their age. They didn’t maximize all their years of saving.

They don’t know how to set the hook.

Woody Allen says “80 percent of success is showing up.” Most people just show up and have enough success to make them feel like they did something productive, but they forget about the last 20 percent.

So really, they’re just like everybody else: they’re AVERAGE FISHERMEN

Are you an average fisherman or do you know how to set the hook?

Here’s one of me and one of our guides, Jesus, not to be confused with “JESUS!!” I mentioned above. We were friends by the end, even though I hooked him a few times.


Post Author

This post was written by Kathryn who has written 21 posts on KATHRYN'S CONVERSATIONS.

6 Responses to “How to be better than average”

  1. Epags June 16, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    awesome post. Great analogy and overall the point is fantastic. Have you read Godin’s Linchpin?

  2. Kathryn June 16, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Thanks Epags. I haven’t read Linchpin..but you’re the second person in 1 week who told me to read it. I’m thinking I should.

  3. Sara June 16, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Love it KC. Great storytelling and photos. Thought this was going to be about dating – same analogy applies right? Set the hook? Just kidding. I’m so incredibly jealous of your adventures I can’t stand it. Although I hate fishing – my fish always SWALLOWS the hook and dies. What does that analogy mean I wonder? hmm…

  4. Jacq June 16, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Kathryn, for you, Linchpin will probably be like it was for me – kind of a “no, duh, doesn’t everyone know you should be like that?” Apparently everyone doesn’t.

    So – I think the analogy for dating would be to get really clear on what kind of person you want, invest some time and energy into presenting yourself properly instead of going on 500 dates a month and wondering why things aren’t working. I suppose there’s things women can learn from PUA material.

  5. Kathryn June 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I am such a MORON. How the hell did I forget to connect the “hook” concept to dating with this post!!

  6. Lauren June 16, 2011 at 3:59 pm #


    Lets do fly fishing off lido dock this summer in our bikinis

Leave a Reply