Toward Better Casting

Let’s briefly talk golf. If you’re a golfer (and even if you’re not) you’re likely aware that you can turn on the TV pretty much any week of the year and watch the best players in the world play the game. You get to observe the kinds of shots they hit, you have plenty of chances to study their swings. And you can watch for hours on end, if you’re prone to that sort of thing. You also get to partake of professional analysis of those swings. In short, the pros show us what’s possible. From watching them we gain an understanding of what a good swing looks like, what its characteristics are—both good and bad. If we play the game ourselves, we can take what we see and apply it to our own swing.

Guess what? There’s no parallel to this in fly casting. None at all. Expert fly casters are much rarer than expert golfers (even accounting for differences in the popularity of the sports), and there are very few places you can go and observe them. Yes, if you happen to live in San Francisco, Oakland or Long Beach, California, you can visit their casting clubs and watch some great casters at work. Most of us aren’t that lucky. As for the televised fishing shows, well, they practically never feature skilled casters. And what to make of YouTube, that ubiquitous home to all things video? There are certainly no shortage of casting videos to be found there—I’ve watched many dozens of them myself. But very few that I’ve come across teach or demonstrate good mechanics, and the vast majority will harm your casting more than help. For someone seeking to improve, it’s an unfortunate situation. It is possible to learn casting from studying books, but it’s difficult. Static images simply don’t do nearly as good a job with the details as video or live instruction does.

So what I find in my own teaching is that while most anglers are eager to improve their casting, they’re not at all sure what “improvement” looks like. They have no visual reference, no mental picture of a sound casting stroke, no expert resource they can go to and compare themselves against. Which is one reason many of us fish for years without showing improvement our casting. We simply can’t develop a mechanically sound casting stroke until we’ve been shown what one looks and feels like. The best way to learn, naturally, is in person, one on one, from someone who really understands casting. In lieu of that, I’m providing a link to a video whereby you can mime for yourself the motion of a mechanically sound stroke. While the video won’t replicate live casting, it will allow you to see and get a basic feel for what constitutes good mechanics. You can compare what you see and feel to your current stroke and you’ll have some idea of where you stand fundamentally. If you want to pursue further improvement, you’ll have some direction for your learning.

There are very real, tactile rewards to be had from good fly casting. These rewards are all too often overlooked in our quest for another fish, but they shouldn’t be. If we’re not going to enjoy the act of casting, why fly fish at all? There are other, more effective ways to catch fish.

I apologize in advance for the fuzzy video—the camera dates back to the days of Abe Lincoln—but you’ll get the idea. If you have questions please contact me. Here’s the link:

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