If truth be told, I like to fish familiar places, places that I know well and that I have invested the time in to learn. I would be willing to bet that I am not alone in this regard. When we do have some time to get out, we all head to stretches that we have a decent chance of finding willing fish. However, if you really want to learn to be a better fisherman, you need new places with unique and different conditions and challenges.
Since my daughter has been attending college in central PA, I've been taking advantage of the trips down and back to spend some time on the Yellow Breeches. The Breeches, while not a true spring creek is a bit of a hybrid between a spring creek and a freestone stream. It is quite a bit different from a typical New England freestone which I am more familiar with and the learning process has presented some challenges to work through with each visit. I typically use a long rod with weighted flies on a mono-rig, but one of the sections of the breeches is too small for a long rod and when you are fishing #20 nymphs you need another way to get the flies down to the fish. By trying out different setups and experimenting with split shot, I've been learning how to be a more effective nymph fisherman.
This past outing I was taken to school on fighting fish in tight quarters with a small nymph in their jaw. The first handful of fish I hooked quickly came lose when they would charge around the small pool I was fishing. Eventually, I figured out that by keeping the rod tip low and using side pressure, the small hook would hold and fish could be landed. It is challenges like these that fishing unfamiliar water presents. These challenges require us to solve new problems, learn new techniques, and strategies that in the end make us more complete fly fisherman. So go fish some new water! You will probably catch less fish at first, but in the end you will be a better fisherman!