Curiosity is the attribute that drives the sport of fly fishing. It is why we start in the first place and it is what drives us to continue the pursuit until our legs stops working and beyond. It is the single most important factor in the sport, and it is the common denominator among all of us that fly fish.
Just like everything else in life, fly fishing has so many elements one can only find the time to focus on certain aspects. Some folks become enamoured with casting which takes a dedicated amount of time practicing on and off the water. Others are numbers guys wanting to catch as many fish as possible. You also have your fly tiers, explorers, gear hounds, dry fly addicts, and the list goes on and on. Prioritizing your fly fishing time is just as prevalent as prioritizing your daily tasks in every day life.
Making the time for something is a quick indication of your priority. Those who say they don’t have time to tie flies, or find new water, or even fish are simply making a choice with regards to priority. Without a surfacing, curiosity bubbling over, it is easy to put your rod away in the basement and never pick it up again.
Time on the water certainly doesn't define your passion for fly fishing. As fisherman age they may not have the same amount of time in life to put in on the water, however the efficiency grows. The great past experiences allows time to stand still for them as soon as their feet hit the water.
As fly fisherman get older they become much more efficient at all aspects of the sport. If you ever sit back and truly study an angler who has been fly fishing for 40 or 50 years you will see an efficiency on the water that is mind blowing. I have seen men in there 80’s who can hardly walk, get chest deep in a run and suddenly work it like a merganser. Ive seen guys who cast 25 feet all day pull out a 60 footer to reach a rolling fish. 80 year old trout bums calling a hatch before anyone else even sees a bug.
The truth of the matter is that holding on to that youthful curiousity on the water is what makes an angler no matter how many years in the making. As long as an angler still possesses a curiosity, they will continue to grow and flourish on the water. Experience plus curiousity is the magical formula that creates pure magic on a river. No matter how young or old, maintaining a strong curiosity for the fish, the habitat, and the ecosystem they are are found in will ensure you always make time for the sport you love.