The correlation between happiness and time spent outdoors is a conversation topic that is wistfully discussed with high frequency amongst the city dwelling set. It's becoming increasingly evident that, regardless of generation, we're a group of people looking for an escape from the urban grind that cannot be found at the bottom of a gin and tonic. Many hit the road to the countryside as soon as the clock strikes 6pm on a Friday, searching for a level of calm that only wide open spaces can offer.
The pursuit of the elusive greener grass is deeply rooted with an increase in awareness about our mental wellbeing, and how important it is for us to find, protect and preserve those activities that allow us to maintain balance in a fast-paced world.
For some, myself included, fly-fishing is the very thing that I crave to counterbalance the bright lights of London. Although I've been fishing since I was a child, it's been 3 years since I decided that there was more to life than staying in London every weekend nursing a hangover. Through choosing casting over partying, I've found an unconditional escape - true separation from the day-to-day.
As we draw to the end of National Fishing Month, I began to reflect how fly-fishing effects my feelings of wellbeing. Fly-fishing has long been heralded as a great source of therapy, with amazing organisations such as Casting for Recovery and Fishing for Forces, demonstrating how fly-fishing allows you to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday being, and clear your mind by focusing on the beautiful surroundings and the art and technique of the sport.
It's also well documented that fly-fishing is a proven way to help addicts to overcome their reliance on substance abuse, and there are a number of well-known people that have used it as a tool during recovery. The Harvard Medical School's Department of Neurobiology recently published an article that drew comparisons between fly-fishing and yoga, stating that by breaking the train of everyday thinking through concentration and repetitive motion, it can relax the brain and combat the ill effects of every day stress.
Besides anecdotal evidence, what greater endorsement would you need? I'm incredibly passionate about introducing new people to the sport, especially those who are feeling the strain and love the outdoors already. It's a skill that takes time to perfect, but with the right guidance and introduction, novices will start to feel the benefits pretty rapidly.
It's not hard to get into the sport either. The Angling Trust is a great resource for those starting out, and Orvis' "Learn to fly-fish sessions" are a thorough introduction. In just two hours, you'll be introduced to fly rod casting, knots, flies and tackle, and will get some good tips about local fishing information. The best part is that the sessions are run in stores nationwide and is a free initiative open to everyone.
The most important thing, above all, when you are a beginner is finding your feet at a local fishery, it won't be too testing and you can seek professional guidance. It's far better to iron out your technique this way than on a boat in the middle of a rough lake without another soul in sight. For me, Syon Park fishery was 20 minutes from home, it offered a quick and easy escape from the city and it was an ideal place to perfect the "10 to 2". This casting technique uses visualising a clock face to ensure that the movement of the rod on your back and forward cast stays between 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock. It's an essential basic skill to master.
There's little stopping you. Rope in your friends too, you might find the headspace you are looking for out on the river bank.