In Japanese there's a saying "another loach" in the short form, "look for another loach under the same willow tree" in the long form.

This saying is for ridiculing a person who blindly repeats what s/he once successfully did, or who imitates what somebody else successfully did, in the hope that s/he can succeed again not knowing s/he would surely fail the second time.

It comes from a famous folklore about a man who once captured a loach (like a catfish) in a stream under a willow tree, who tried unsuccessfully to catch another loach exactly at the same spot.

I am wondering if there is a saying in English similar to this?

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    I'm having a "tip of the tongue" moment with this question. My ind keeps going back to "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while", but that isn't really what you want. – Kevin May 3 '11 at 18:02
  • The closest I can come is the contrary: “Lead to success, follow to failure”. – F'x May 3 '11 at 18:11
  • Like @Kevin experienced, There's an expression lingering at the edge of my mind. It includes the word "chasing" but I can't quite think of it a the moment. – TecBrat Aug 17 '12 at 10:57
  • 1) I had never heard of the word 'loach' before. A root? A bird? A lazy person? I had no idea. 2) Oh, it's a fish. Never knew that. The next thing to wonder is what a fish is doing under a willow tree. Do willows usually hang out over water? I have no idea. Is there some sort of story behind all these fish and trees? – Mitch Apr 5 at 14:55

Wow, that's a useful saying. English seems to have the opposite sayings -- that success or failure of a particular sort make repetitions less likely:

The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either. -- Mark Twain


Lightning never strikes twice in the same place

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  • ObQuote: "like the cat i'th'adage, letting I dare not' wait upon I would'" – Mitch May 3 '11 at 18:57
  • Thanks! I guess I didn't explain the saying well enough. In fact it's for ridiculing a person who blindly tries to do what once gave him/her success. Definitely I need to study English more ;) – Yuji May 3 '11 at 19:17
  • No, I think that was clear -- I just don't think English has a saying to discourage someone from repeating previously successful patterns. There's a quote supposedly from Albert Einstein, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Your saying would be about doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for the same results, which isn't insane, but may be over-optimistic.) – Malvolio May 3 '11 at 23:23
  • You deserve a downvote for Twain butchery, but I won't :-) – Pete Wilson May 4 '11 at 3:23
  • @PeteWilson -- I just copied what Google gave me. Do you have a better site? – Malvolio May 6 '11 at 2:29

Cargo-cult is probably the nearest.

eg. in software a cargo-cult programmer keeps writing the same code they wrote before - because it worked in that situation.

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  • That's a good comparison. But, somehow, cargo-cult feels a little different... – Yuji May 3 '11 at 23:45

There is at least one saying that is the other side of this coin - for a person who fails, but nevertheless continues the same action: "A fool trips over the same stone twice." Not what you want, but useful in its own right.

Ironically, a good fishing hole really is a good fishing hole, and what made it a favored habitat for the first loach would likely attract others to it as well - venerated sayings notwithstanding.

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It sounds a little like "searching under the street light."

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Lost in translation Is that loaches are represented as slippery/hard to catch in China and Japan so it like "betting on the winning number twice" or something along that line

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  • Hi bugg, your answer has been flagged as low-quality, possibly because it's too short or not detailed enough. As it is, this appears to be more of an interesting fact about loaches rather than a definitive answer to the question asked, and would have been more appropriate as a comment. It also lacks any reference sources to back up the idiom you're putting forth as an answer. If you have such references, please edit to include them. - From Review – John Clifford Mar 30 '16 at 9:35
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    This answer does provide a corresponding English saying, so it's not merely a comment. It just lacks facts, references, or specific expertise to back it up. Is this actually a well known English saying? – MetaEd Mar 30 '16 at 18:29

I think this English saying is close to your meaning, with the caveat that it's a little more optimistic. ;-) Maybe there's a few "loaches", but if you fish out the stream, you're a fool.

The pitcher which goes too often to the well gets broken

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There is chinese saying, waiting for the hare by the stump/tree, where a villiager was sitting by a stump, a hare run out of a bush, ran into the stump and knocked it self out. The villager started to wait everyday by the stump for another hare.

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    The questioner was hoping for an English equivalent. – KillingTime Apr 5 at 13:54
  • I enjoy the Chinese saying, but your post doesn't answer the question as written. Please take the tour and when you have a moment, read-up in the help center about how we work and welcome to English Language and Usage. – Bitter dreggs. Apr 5 at 14:54

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