After competing in the World Flycasting Championships for the first time last summer (winning four medals, including the overall silver, missing gold by mere fractions of a point) Whitney Gould came down to West for a visit and some more casting. Having taken a short break to contemplate her competitive future, she’s decided to remain in the game until the next World’s, which take place in 2024. I was thrilled to hear that news, as she’s a very rare talent and I’m curious to see to what level she can take her casting. She believes—and I concur—that there’s still a lot of room for improvement, especially in the 5-weight distance and shooting head events.
The video here shows her casting for accuracy over three distances. As I discussed in this previous video analysis, Whitney’s stroke is excellent, and makes a fine model for anyone to emulate. But the margins for error are very small when you’re competing against the best casters in the world, and a reliable, repeatable stroke is absolutely critical to success. A point of concentration for her now is on pulling her elbow down smartly and feeling it stop “behind” her, with the goal of improving the consistency of her stopping point. Also, she’s paying close attention to the angle of the rod relative to the ground as it descends on the forward stroke, again with the goal of a more consistent stopping point. In comparison to the earlier video there’s no significant structural change to Whitney’s stroke, but the way in which she’s thinking about it is quite different. And at very high performance levels, progress is often made through changes in thought processes (and minor technical adjustments). Consistent, long-term practice is also required.
If you watch the other video analyses I’ve done, you’ll see that the fundamentals great casters employ are identical, whether they’re preparing for a competition or fishing to a rising trout on their home river. I believe that good fundamentals are key not only to success, but also to our enjoyment of the sport. It’s lot of fun having control over your fly…and that control is within reach of all of us.