Inverted Thinking

One of the greatest investors and thinkers of our time, Charlie Munger, is probably the last thing you thought you would read about when it comes to fishing. But… here we are. Mr. Munger has been inspired by many people during his life, one of whom was mathematician Carl Jacobi, who he credits one of his main mental models of Thought Inversion.

It was their belief that many hard problems can’t be solved with forward thinking and must be addressed backwards…to ask what is the action that would be opposite what you want to achieve. Basically, identify what are the things you absolutely should do if you want to achieve a goal, and then avoid them at all costs. And when you do this exercise, it is amazing how many of the pitfalls you say you shouldn’t do, are actually imbedded in your routines.

So, today we are going to address your want to be a better fisherman. Here are a list of things you should do if you want to stay bad at fishing.

1. Watch lots of videos, but never try the skill

This is something we all fall victim to. We watch a bunch of videos on how to get better at nymph fishing, as dry flies don’t always work like we want them to. We tell ourselves, “Next time out, I’m using THAT!” However, the next time on the river, we see a gnarly caddis hatch, so we throw on an elk hair. Or we hopper dropper a prince nymph, and tell ourselves we just need an indicator. Back into old routines.

What we need to do is come out and only nymph fish. Ask a fly shop, or learn your bugs from under the rock, and put on something that looks similar. Work through the pain of not catching fish. Be good at being a beginner again.

2. Never invest in new gear

Look, much of the gear today is built to last. Unless you are buying entry level stuff that is almost built to fail (ahem $90 waders), most of your stuff will last multiple seasons if not lifetimes.

But sometimes, especially when it comes to comfort and feel, you need to upgrade or get a better fit. Maybe your wife told you “it is time to cut to your fighting weight” and put you on a low carb keto diet. You removed a few belt loops and had to invest in a new work wardrobe. Congrats! On to the next honey-do. But the last thing you want to do is ditch those $400 Patagonia waders you bought two seasons ago, even though they turn you into an underwater wind sail. It is exhausting to pull that fabric up the river, but it just doesn’t make sense to invest in making wading easier. What if you fall off the Twinkie-free bandwagon?

As the great bass fisherman, Deion Sanders says, “Look Good, Feel Good. Feel Good, Cast Good. Cast good, Catch Good.”

3. Teach yourself

There is something satisfying in teaching yourself something new. Whether it is the solitude that introverts like myself love (especially on the river). Or the doing it in solitude without looking like a beginner in front of someone you don’t know. Or maybe you just don’t have money for a lesson.

You may figure it out. It will probably just take a hell of a lot longer. The fastest way to learn something is to ask someone who has already been there to help you. It will save you countless hours on the river.

4. Dream about it but don’t go do it.

Making a bucket list is one of the most fun and best ways to make yourself feel like a loser. Just look at all these things I haven’t done!

But the next most fun lame thing is to just sit there and keep watching other people’s dream trips. Constantly thinking how cool it would be to be on that trip, or catch that fish.

What if instead you told yourself, fuck it, I am just going to book it and figure it out. That act alone will make you better than 50% of fisherman.

Action. Take action.

5. Fish your same secret spot every time out

Look, we all love our favorite home creek. And getting the reps is definitely part of the process. But telling yourself you are an epic fisherman because you can catch loads of fish from under the dock of your favorite stocked lake is like kissing your sister… yes, you kissed a girl, but you ain’t no Casanova. Was the connotation of that sentence mean? Good.

Push yourself! Go check out new waters. If you fish small streams on a 3wt, push yourself to a Midwest bass pond with an 8wt. If catching ditch pickles sounds boring to you, then book a trip to New Orleans to catch red fish, or the Keys to catch bone fish.

It is those moments of being a beginner that push us to be better, not just getting reps in your honey hole.

I am sure there are plenty more inversions to think through. But these should get the point across. Get out of your comfort zone. Get the reps. Do it with others. Build a community. Be a beginner again.

Now don’t just sit there, do nothing!

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