This is an interesting book, hugely thought provoking. The foundation of this is work is the way in which humans both think and make decisions, the assertion being that we are governed by two modes of thinking, ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’. System 1 thinking is rapid, subconscious, automated and emotional. System 2 thinking is slow, conscious, calculating and logical.
Consequently most of the decisions that humans make are rooted in System 1. Simply put this is the most efficient decision making process that we possess and it is informed by our own experience and history. On the flip side we avoid System 2 thinking because it is an inherently inefficient process which consumes a huge amount of mental resource.
What has this got to do with fishing? Well on reflection if I am visiting a known stretch of water at a given time of year my subconscious has already started to inform the key decisions in terms of what to expect, where to fish and what fly to use. Sure I may think that I will get to the water and take in all the available variables to come to a rational and informed decision but I am now pretty much convinced that this is not the case. Rather my decision to turn up, sniff the air and fish is doing little other than confirming my own subconscious bias. Hell, most years my first fish of the season comes from the same lie, in the same pool, to a very similar non-descript emerger pattern.
So having acknowledged this what to do about it? First thing to note is that my System 1 decision making is not all bad, I catch my share of fish. Rather the question is what am I missing out on by not engaging System 2 and what can I do to rectify this? I guess the most straightforward answer would be to always be fishing totally new water. In reality this is not feasible (for me)but it would be totally achievable to fish my available water in a different way, for example fishing parts of the water I have skimmed over before, starting from new points, ignoring known lies. But I think that the single biggest thing that I can do is to try and avoid my subconscious bias by not making any decsions unbidden.
In short I may need to become the Contemplative Angler.