January 8th, 2007

Art of Fly Casting
By James Castwell

Some say it's an art. Then again, many say it's just something we do to get the fly out there. I suppose it might even be a combination of the two, sometimes or with certain individuals. It seems that often when someone refers to a person who can cast well, or at least efficiently, they infer that it is somehow artistic, or he is an artist with the fly rod, the 'art' of flycasting or some thing similar.

This subject was brought up on the bulletin board a few days ago and there were both sides of the issue covered. I received a phone call and asked if I would write my column on the subject this week. I will, but I do not have a strong opinion on it. It is not something I would have gone after like an early morning bird after the late night bug. In other words, it really is not a big deal with me. I can see that it is though with some folks. At the risk of getting my 'chops busted' as usual I will pen a few thoughts on it.

When this subject comes up in other situations, just general conversation, I like to compare it to playing the piano. Some just seem to be able to play really well and it doesn't take them long to learn it. I can say for fact that I firmly believe that I could take lessons for thirty years and probably not get much past 'chop-sticks.' I know too that in helping a few improve on their fly casting I have seen some who do have less trouble with it. I don't think it is any difference in any learning ability, just a propensity to pick up the necessary elements of mental and physical things necessary to make a decent cast.

I have gotten to know a few of the world champion fly casters and am always struck by the differences in their style. I would think that to make casts like they do, they would be rather similar. The only points they share are, 'it stops here and it stops there;' the rest is style I guess. I do know for a fact that once they get to the point of near perfection that the casts they make when practicing are not just for fun. A lot of attention is put into each cast. To not do so might actually develop a mistake or some small error and incorporate it into their casts. This is serious work for these guys. They do work at it. At least the ones I know.

Some of you know, that as part of our casting classes, I attempt to imitate some of the well known fly casters of the world. I do not in any way claim to be anywhere as good as them but, I have been able to study some of the characteristics and have been able to show a little bit of what they look like while casting. At risk of further embarrassment I will name the ones I include. I will say first that I do it to show the major differences in their styles. They are: Lefty, Randi, Mel, Joan, Doug and Steve. I can not do Jerry. Trust me, I have tried.

Are these guys artists with a fly rod? Perhaps. I suppose that depends upon your definition of artist. If I have even known an artist it might have been a guide in the Bahamas. Extremely smooth and could cast equally with either hand, double-haul included. He was deadly accurate and was a fine caster at distance as well. I do not think I could beat him at either game. The thing about him was how he looked while casting. Just plain looked 'really good.' One of the guys I listed above has great 'class' while casting. He may not always win the distance, (I did watch him do it once thought) but he looks so darn good trying. I would be pleased if I looked half that well. Just not my thing though.

So, once again, I have brought up more questions than I have answers for, but what's new about that. If you want to feel it's an art to fly cast, at least for some, go for it. But for the rest who are any good at it, trust me it is a lot of long hard work. Well, not all that hard, fun really, but at least a lot of it. Maybe serious is a better choice of words. When, at least I, practice, I try to make every cast count for some reason. Each and every single one. Then again, I have never been accused of being an artist with a fly rod and not likely to be either. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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