The 5 Essentials of Fly Casting

The 5 Essentials of Fly Casting

The 5 Essentials of Fly Casting

We tend to think about fly casting more in the winter, as we mentally and physically prepare of the coming summer 2023. Every winter we think about the year ahead, how to improve, and how to get a couple of those finicky rising fish to the net.

The 5 Essentials of Casting can get you more action! Yes, truth behind this statement

Those who can control the outcome of each cast, catch more fish. This is a choices well as a fact. Those who leave the cast to chance, catch far fewer trout.

So a long look at the 5 Essentials of the Cast today, and for the next week. A reminder to all of you out there who blame the wind, your gear, your fishing partner, the fly, the rower…it is your fault if you cannot cast well. Practice is the path to get better at casting. Not fishing. Fishing is one of the components of catching trout, but only one. Golfers that think they will get better, by just golfing, are seriously mistaken and lying to themselves. A client once told me that. Truth. Some goes for fly fishing anglers.

Yeah, if you want to catch more fish this year, you gotta put in the work. Anybody that is good at anything, barring natural talent which may get you started not he right foot but is a short term benefit, has got to put in the work. Another reminder here today that fishing 3 days a year is not putting in the work.

Cast for 10 minutes a week.

I believe, as many do, that if you cast for 10 minutes a week, you will be exponentially better than you were last year. Although, perfect practice makes perfect casters. 30 minutes of practice in one session is too long, too much. Casting muscles, for the occasional angler, are not developed enough to spend that length of time in one session. Shorter, and more, sessions are smarter.

Get yourself a practice rod. Type it into your browser. Pick one up at your local fly shop. Or use your daily rod. That is fine too, but look at one of the rules below.

Find a casting mentor, or instructor, or both. Take him or her to lunch.

If you are using your fly rod to practice, make sure you clean your fly line(s) before practicing. Trust me on this one. Lube is good. Clean fly lines are good. Put yourself in a situation for learning. Do not hold yourself back. This deal where casters use old fly lines for practice is not smart. How about practicing basketball with a deflated ball. How about football. Bowling with a bumpy ball. Nope. Practice with the tool that you will use on the river, in the best condition possible. Why cast with a scratchy, non-performing, slow, restrictive fly line. That’d be dumb.

The belief that you can get better at casting, when you are fishing or just by doing the act of fishing, does not hold water. Deep nymphing with a fishing guide, or your buddies, does not make your casting better. One of the reasons is because fly rods were not designed to toss heavily weighted double nymph rigs off the boat 12 feet. Nope, not what the rod was intended for. I promise you that if you are only good at that, deep nymphing from a boat with a rower, you are not an advanced caster. Nope, that is not we are discussing here.

Furthermore, if that is your objective in trout fishing, to catch fish without advanced casting, distance, wind, or otherwise complicated big river casting technique, this article is not directed at you. For those aforementioned, carry on man. Get the net out! No practice needed for the deep nymphing technique. Lob it out there!

Generally successful anglers separate the two parts. Fishing, you can’t better at fishing, by fishing. Yes. True. And you cannot get better at casting, by or from just fishing. Those are two components of the fishing equation, but we must separate them for lifelong improvement reasons.

Getting better at casting is a long and lengthily process. No overnight successes here. No sir. 6, one hr sessions, does not hold a candle to 60, ten minute sessions. Choose the latter. It is the only successful path. Your mind and body need that kind of time commitment to align the communication path from brain, to shoulder, to arm, to hand, to rod tip, to fly, to trout!

Can you get better at fishing, by practicing casting? Yeah, you can. Yes. If you fish 40+ days a year, then maybe. I skied 100+ days annually for 13 years. Some years as many as 140 days on skis. I worked in the education ski world, as a full time ski instructor. I believed, and still do, that my learning started at 40 days on skis each year. That is the time where my skis felt good under my feet and I could focus on changing/tweaking/working on the 7 components of the ski turn. So, if you gotta learn by fishing, and fishing alone, fish a lot.

Practicing casting is good. Good for the soul. Good for the cast. Bad for rising trout.

OK Mark, so what is the 1st of the 5 Essentials of the Fly Cast? Bill and Jay Gammel wrote this FFF book, rule set, many decades ago. I refer back to it often, this rule set, when I need alignment. It certainly centers me and many upper end casters. These 5 components are the rules of the road, for fly casters.

Rule 1. There must be a pause at the end of every stroke, which varies in duration with the amount of line beyond the rod tip. 

Why? Because you can only pull straight, or taut line. Not one person on this earth can push limp fly line.

Trust me. I’m a fishing guide. 


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