One of my responsibilities as a fly casting instructor—perhaps the most important of all—is to provide my students with a pathway. A pathway that leads to better casting and more successful fishing, paved with an understanding of the essential mechanics of casting. After spending an hour with me, I like to think every student gets started down the pathway that’s right for them.
But the lesson is just the beginning. The easy part. After all, during a lesson I’m standing right there alongside the student. I analyze each stroke, suggest new mechanics when appropriate, and help to incorporate those mechanics. When things go awry (they almost always do as we learn something new), I’m there to intervene and rectify the problem.
The real work—the hard work—comes afterwards. That’s when the student, on his own time, has to turn what he’s just learned into muscle memory. All the existing bad habits, frequently deeply ingrained, must be overcome. That requires an honest commitment to practice. It’s not something that can be accomplished during a one hour lesson.
While practice strikes many of us as unappealing (who practices fishing, right?), keep in mind that it does have its own rewards. There is a very real tactile, aesthetic pleasure in good fly casting, quite apart from fishing. Of course, I understand that for most of us catching fish is the ultimate objective. There too, it’s impossible to overstate the pleasure and sense of accomplishment that comes from the ability to do exactly what you want with your fly, especially as it leads to a caught fish.
So once you’ve received some good instruction—not from friends or family, please—go out and practice. Regularly. Embrace practice. Not only is it enjoyable, but assuming your instructor has sent you down the right path, you will make progress.
And it will show in your fishing.