When most fishermen decide to improve their fly casting skills, they generally share a similar rationale for doing so. Better casting, they reason, will make them better fishermen, which in turn will lead to catching more fish. And in my experience as a teacher, this is exactly what happens. Better casters do catch more fish. So that’s a perfectly sound reason for wanting to improve. But is it the only one? Not for me. Not by a long shot. I’d like to offer up a different reason for improving—one rarely talked about these days—but which I believe is equally valid. How about becoming a better caster so that we increase our enjoyment of the process?
Take a few minutes and watch a good fly caster. What you’ll see is someone in complete and total control of their medium. You’ll feel the grace, the elegance and the beauty inherent in their smoothly unrolling line. Good casting should be a matter for conscious enjoyment, celebration even, never something to be overlooked or dismissed as merely the mechanism by which we deliver our fly to a target. After all, isn’t it the casting itself that separates fly fishing from other forms of angling? If we can’t celebrate that, why fly fish in the first place? There are other, more efficient ways to bring fish to hand.
So I’m here to champion for the very real, tactile pleasures to be had from good casting. Ain’t nothing like ’em, and we should all have the chance to experience those pleasures. Sure, I want to catch fish as much as the next guy, but never by downplaying or ignoring the process behind that catching. I believe that when you can look out over the water, pick the spots you’d like to cover, and then deliver your fly precisely to those spots in precisely the way you want, well, that’s tremendously rewarding. Rewarding in a way that transcends the mere act of bringing another fish to hand. Rewarding enough that I continue to work on improving my own casting.
And, hopefully, rewarding enough for you to do the same.