June 28th, 2004

Learn Both Ways
By James Castwell

By golly, I just may have something to write about that could help some. It has to do with how and why you, I and a whole lot of other folks have casting problems while fly fishing. Let me set this up for you. We have to agree that there are two ways to fly cast. One is a fly fishing style; whatever happens with the casting has to be automatic, all of our attention is on the fish and the fishing. The front and back loops, the size and shape of them, all are by second nature, all attention is on the rise or where the fly should go.

The other style is fun casting. Lawn, street, grass, tournament, whatever. Accuracy perhaps, but mostly just for fun and often distance. Very highly structured. Posture, muscles vs muscles, breathing, watching both front and back loops, timing, line speed, use of the double-haul, keeping the reel in line etc. Little need for exact presentation, just casting perfection.

Then this happens. I know it does. It has happened to me, to the LF and to many others I have seen. Often good casters too. The fishing gets intense, all concentration goes to the target, repeated casts build the adrenalin, the fish does not co-operate, cast after cast is made with no success. We try harder, and harder, and harder. And our style and form start to go south. Our back loop opens some, we come forward a bit too soon, now our forward cast lacks speed. We rip the DH more only to flex the tip and now we are getting tailing loops when the fly lands.

I have watched as a experienced caster after bonefish lost it so badly that his rod tip hit the water in front and in back of him. Now that is a bad cast; worse than that, he was in a boat at the time. I have had it happen to me fishing for salmon out here. Casting into the wind, I started pushing my cast harder and harder. The rod was too soft for the job and the tip kept flexing and I got one tailing-loop after the other. And they kept getting worse. I was about to pitch the whole rod and reel into the ocean, really. I lost my kool! The only reason I didn't do it? It was not my rod and reel!

There is a fix. Be aware that it can, make that, 'does' happen. Not just to you but we all are subject at some time or other. Does this make a case for learning how to lawn and parking lot cast? Well, yes I think it does, because that is the fix. If the only way you know to cast is a fishing style, you have nothing to go back to, no basics to re-center yourself to. When it happens now, we revert to 'casting' not fishing. Ignore the fish for a few seconds, straighten up, shoulders back, concentrate on your 'form' as it might be and regain your composure.

I hope this helps some of you. It is the truth as we see it from here, at least as far as our fly fishing is concerned. Does this mean you have to learn things like the double-haul? Nope, but even on three-hop creeks it does make casting easier. Need a lot of fancy casts? Anything you can learn or teach yourself could come in handy someday; but you will never know if you don't learn them will you. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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