Fly Fishing & Mental Health #5: Fly Rod as “Mood-ometer”


Fly Fishing & Mental Health #5: 

Fly Rod as “Mood-ometer”

(read: Part 1Part 2Part 3; Part 4)

by: Cari Ray (Fisher of Zen)

I’ve long said that a fly rod, and more specifically a fly cast, is the best barometer for my state of mind I’ve ever found. I’m a casting instructor, for heaven’s sake, and some days I swear I couldn’t land a fly in a kiddie pool at 10 paces. Among other things, a fly cast is so much about proper timing. When I’m tense, by rhythm goes to pot. My loops get ugly, my flies land ugly. I may even (for shame) throw a “wind knot.” Isn’t it cute how we like to blame our casting mistakes on the wind. Hard to tie knots without opposing thumbs, I say. And in those instances, if I’m not careful, my mood gets ugly…which makes my performance even more dismal. 

But here’s one of the great things about a fly rod. In addition to being a good measure for your level of tension, if you’ll let it, it’s also a good tool for releasing tension. And that effect is compounded when you put a slower-action rod in your hand…one that commands you to take your time. To wait. To relax. 

Job number one in this situation is raising your awareness enough to realize that you, not the fly rod, are both the problem and the solution. Then you have the opportunity to choose. You can stay tense and stressed, or you can choose to use the tools at your disposal to help you find your way to a balanced state of mind.

Cari Ray has worn many hats. Her primary vocation for years was as a performing singer/songwriter touring nationally solo and with percussionist, Dionne Ward, as “Cari Ray & The Shaky Legs.” While no longer her sole focus, music is still happening. More info on that can be found over at

You can add to that resume graphic designer, creative director, successful entrepreneur, marketing/business consultant, photographer and writer. If there isn’t a guitar in her hand, there’s likely a fly rod. She lives in the Texas Hill Country just west of Austin. And while Hill Country Rivers are her home waters, she can often be found traveling the contiguous US hiking into backcountry parts unknown to chase wild, native fish on the fly. And then telling the tale right here on Fisher of Zen.

You can find more from Cari Ray at


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  2. In our fast-paced lives, it's hardly surprising that only a small minority manage to carve out time for maintaining a truly active and health-conscious lifestyle.


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