The Culture of Can’t

One of my mentors used to tell me, “Say ‘yes’ and then figure out how to do it.” On the surface, it was a little intimidating. But once I got the hang of it, I realized the powerful wisdom of Gini’s words — and all the opportunities it created.

I see far too much “can’t” in fly fishing. Some of it is human nature — “can’t” gives us an easy way to opt out. Some of it derives from negative experience (“I can’t nymph.” Yes, you can. You just need someone to teach you.). Some of it is generated by preconceived mindsets and popular mythology (“Using a five weight rod is unsporting and will put too much stress on a large striper.” No, it isn’t, and not if you fight the fish from the reel and butt of the rod.).

There are two kinds of anglers: those who can’t and those who can. In my experience, the ones who can — or at least believe they can — are the ones having the most fun.

This double-digit pounder was back in the river before she knew what hit her (Herr Blue flatwing, 5-weight rod, 9-weight line, and an angler who said “yes, I can”).



9 comments on “The Culture of Can’t

  1. joseph ganun says:

    I would have said “can’t use a 9 wt line on a 5 wt. rod” long before I said “the 5 wt. can’t handle that fish”. Guess it’s going to be a long learning process.

    • Steve Culton says:

      No wrong answers, Joseph. Only the ones that are right for you. The learning process never ends. Sometimes I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface.

      • David Larson says:

        Steve, I can’t help but ask, sure you can use a 9wt line on a 5 wt, but what is the advantage? Or is it more of a “I have a 5 wt, I want to fish stripers and the 9wt line is required to cast the larger flies.”

      • David Larson says:

        Just saw the comment below. Thank you.

  2. Gary Steinmiller says:

    I saw a guy land one steelhead after another last week on a Cortland 11′ 2 weight rod. He never chased the fish and he landed them faster than everyone around him. He was using 3x tippet and fought the fish just as you mentioned. Made a believer out of me. I would love to know what his reel drag setting was. They never got into his backing.

  3. Frank says:

    I agree Steve. To me the bottom line is tippet strength…that’s the weakest link in our setups. Question: Why did you put a 9wt line on a 5 wt? I could see a 7wt line on a 5wt rod…or a 9wt line on a 7 wt rod…no judgment here…just wonderin’ 😀…

    • Steve Culton says:

      No worries, Frank. Happy to answer. To start, payload. If I’m throwing a team of three flies or a foot long flatwing, I need a heavier line to carry the cast. Second, fast loading with very little line out (sometimes I fish in tight quarters). Finally, comfort and feel. I love the way that particular line feels on that particular rod. Everything in perfect harmony. I’m not beholden to what’s printed on the rod blank.

      • Frank says:

        Good points…especially on the multi-fly and tight quarters. I’m gonna try that when my backcast has a jetty close behind it. Thanx…

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