Fly Fishing in Facebook

When I was 19 I took a fly-fishing trip with my brother and a couple of friends.  It was a fantastic experience, Argentina is one of the top places in the world for fly-fishing: they don’t stock fish, all wild and they monitor very closely to ensure it remains that way.

One of the places we went to was one of the most famous points down there (sorry, cannot remember the name) where humongous, old brown trout were known to be.  Brown trout are more formidable adversaries than most other – they fight very, very hard.  Fishing in Argentina is no-barbs, catch-and-release; these fish provide a great challenge.

Needless to say, there were lots of anglers — sorry, fly-fishermen around.

We were surrounding the most typical spots where you’d expect to find these fine animals: deep holes, end of the rapids, under the shade, and many others.  None of us were getting anywhere – I mean, some people captured small fish here and there but none of the rumored “monsters” made their appearance.  We spent three days there, trying different things.  Kept getting small fish, but also wanted to see the large ones that the place was famous for.

As we were getting ready to leave on the third day, this older gentleman came in.  He had a very old rod, had made his own flies (we had the ones that we bought at the store, of course, as did most other people there), and went straight to a spot none of us had even attempted to fish before.  A very quiet part of the river where we were sure there were no fish.

He tied his home-made fly to his old rod and using an unconventional technique began to fish.  Of course, we dismissed him – I mean, we had the best rods, flies, and we knew what we were doing: the guides told us where to go, which flies to use, what to do – certainly he could not get better results.  We proceeded to continue packing and storing our gear and almost as we were going to leave, he caught one of the monsters.  It was an incredible show – lasted almost 40 minutes and ended up with a tired fish who lived to count the tale, and an elder gentleman who left and went back home.

Curious, as probably anyone else would’ve been by now, we asked the locals who that person was and how did he get so lucky.  Turns out the gentleman had been fishing that spot for over 30 years (give or take) and knew the fish, what they ate, how to attract them, how to hook them, and how to win the battles better than the “young-ums” with the expensive equipment.

He was not doing it because it was fashionable, he was doing because it was core to who he was, what he liked to do.

And, here it comes, the same applies to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and the many other public social networks.  It seems of late that we are all “young-ums” trying to get the big fish in the social networks, but none of us got a clue what we are doing.  We have the best intentions, the “best” guides (social media gurus), the best  rods (tools for managing Facebook and Twitter presence), and the best — well, the best of everything.  Yet, none of us can say with certainty that we got what we wanted (well, probably almost none can say what they wanted in the first place – right?)

It is time to step aside, let the older gentleman with the beat-up equipment come in, and watch him do his magic.  One thing he knows for certain: the new equipment and more energy won’t mean a thing at the end of the day.

It is knowing where the customers are, what they are doing, and how we can give them what they need in exchange for anything we want back.  Let him show us and lets stop pretending we know something we know very little about.

I mean, fish – n0t customers, fish.

8 Replies to “Fly Fishing in Facebook”

  1. Esteban,

    A great read. Even though many of could predict the ending, the journey was well worth the time spent. That in and of itself is one of my takeaways from your tale. Too many people are trying to fast-forward to the destination when the value is in the journey.



    1. Mitch,

      I am going to have to write more cryptic parables then — thinking of one using goats, the everest, and yakk milk… will see how it evolves.

      Thanks for the read!


  2. Esteban,

    What an excellent story and powerful metaphor for customer relationships on so many levels.
    What most resonated with me was how knowledge and respect of customers is far more effective than the latest bright, shiny new software application, network, tool, technique or advice from experts.

    As I read through your story I kept coming back to the fact that the intangibles which one couldn’t buy mattered most. Years of tying flies, practicing the fly landing on the water, how and where it hit – all were vitally important to attracting, not startling or scaring the fish.

    Thanks for writing it, a great read.


    1. Thanks for the kind words,

      Apologies for the moderation, new blog always does that… I learned a lot in that trip, but fly fishing properly still remains elusive to me 🙂 Takes far more patience than I have, and far more dedication than I have. Contrary to business and CRM.

      Thanks for reading.


  3. After seeing you tweet several times about it (haha), I had to make a point to read it! Besides, who can resist a topic like fly-fishing. Powerful analogy and enjoyable read. Who will emerge as the old man for the social media landscape? The landscape itself is incessantly changing and so are the fish in our situation. Will the patient, observant, persistent fisherman indeed catch the fish? Only time will tell and I look forward to looking back on 2011 ten years from now when people refer to this “fad” called social media. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy being a student of the sport. I know little but I like asking the tour guides and reading the tour books to learn.


  4. Amen.The social media point is a great one.
    To hear it in the context of fishing, even better.


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