Bias & Blinders – “Does this catch fish?”

“Does this new fly pattern or tying technique catch fish?”  The question is raised all the time in fly tying workshops. It’s just natural. But that’s a dangerous question if you are trying to be a creative fly tier.

The point is –  adding that requirement into your design thinking sprouts a bumper crop of mental blocks. And these issues can seriously affect your ability to generate new ideas.

Let’s say you administer an engineering staff seeking new ways of running electric-only automobiles. Their success and the future success of your company may hinge on finding new solutions through lateral thinking, thinking aside, and thinking outside the box. (All of those phrases describe the same thing!)

What happens when you add the requirement…the new electric car must be a success in the worldwide auto sales market?  Can you see how that throws something totally unnecessary, even destructive, into the process of exploration and idea generation?

In workshops, I talk about American artist Jasper Johns. He states that the most basic behavior behind creative thought is simply:  “Take an object, and do something to it.  Then do something else. Then something else.”  

That is how ideas come to fruition, how hidden qualities are revealed, and how your sum total of experience comes to bear on a new fishing fly idea.

I call them “hunches”. A sure sign your fishing experience is paying off in your fly tying creation is when your hunches about how to put a fly together actually result in success on the water.  Few things are more satisfying than when your hunches prove true.

Develop your “hunches” ability and the “catch fish” part will take care of itself.

On the flip side, it you put “catch fish” first in your mental priority list, that bias alone acts like a blinder to keep you from seeing creative sparks and relationship connections – the keys to successful design thinking.