Self Directed Learning on The Fly

The Kalama River with my Dad, Bother and my friend Steve

The Kalama River with my Dad, Bother and my friend Steve

I have been a Fly Fisherman for several years now. I hesitate to say I am self taught but you could say my learning was self directed. I used a combination of informal, social, short format content and good research or reference. Now I know this method is not something all that special or even new. I do believe that there are a lot more resources available to us today that make this method much easier. I would like to offer my approach and technique as an example of how someone can learn any new skill. These techniques will work for professional development within an organization as well as for personal interest skills development. The keys for success are first identifying the skills you want to learn, set some goals and structure to keep you on track and to assure you are moving forward.

I recently discovered that I had a Hernia and needed to have surgery. Ouch! I pause for a short pity party. 😉 The main point here is that I knew I would have some down time. This is something I am normally not too good at. I knew I needed to plan something to do so I would not go stir crazy or even worse drive my family crazy. I was looking at several days of very minimal activity then light activity as I could handle but no working out for about a month. Basically I would be putzing around the house days for weeks. That said, I am not a big TV person. I do like movies but I usually can’t even make it through most movies without having to go to the kitchen or something. I am just not great at passive entertainment, I need to be doing something. I decided that this would be a good time to start learning to tie my own flies.

Where to start? Where else? For me most things start with a Google search. Research is the most important step in self directed learning. You know the old saying you don’t know what you don’t know. You need to build a foundation of understanding so you can put together plan. Fist I would need to know what equipment is needed. I found several Fly Tying kits. By looking at the kits I knew what the basic tools I would need. Further research on YouTube would give me some reviews on the tools and how to use them. There where lots of places to buy online but I decided that finding someone at local Fly Fishing shop to help me make the right purchases would be more valuable than saving a few dollars.

I jumped in the Jeep and headed down to my favorite local fly show Pacific Fly Fishers. I asked owner Michael Bennett help me pick out the basic tools I needed to get started. I then asked him to help me choose two of the most common flies that would work well for the areas I like to fish and the materials I would need to tie them.

My Workstation with Fly Tying setup

My Workstation with Fly Tying setup

My next step was to get my brain around some of the basic techniques so I went on a YouTube marathon. There are many videos on how to use the tools and the various techniques to uses them. I then picked some common flies I have used and watched those videos. I must have watched dozens of them before I tried any myself. I also had been given a book several years back call Beginner’s Guide to Fly-tying and I also spent a great deal of time piling through it.

Ok I was ready to take the plunge. I decided it was time to tye my first fly. I choose the Black Wooly Bugger. It is a fly I have fished many a times so I was excited to have an endless supply. The YouTube video below walked be through the steps to tying the fly and because I had spent so much time researching and studying other videos it was a breeze. I have since then tied several of the same flies and each time I tie it the fly looks better.

In summery I think this is the new model for learning. Even formal education can borrow form this approach. Especially when you consider the flipped classroom. The amount of information and instructional content that is available to us these days I unbelievable. There are so many things I have turned to YouTube videos to learn how to do. From fixing something around the house, installing a part on my Jeep or learning a new software. Now just don’t take my word for it. If you are like most people there is something that you have always wanted to know how to do. Go ahead, do it! Take advantage of the resources available to you and learn that new skill.

Steps:

  • Research
  • Talk to people who have the skill
  • Understand and get the tools needed
  • Review demonstrations
  • Follow step by step videos/instructions
  • Repeat or practice, practice, practice
  • Get feedback and test
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