October 24th, 2004

Left Handed!
By James Castwell

I don't mean to offend some of you but I need to make a point. There is nothing that looks much goofier than watching a guy hold a shotgun right handed and crane his neck over so he can sight down the thing with his left eye. Sorry, breaks me up. Please no offense. If you do it that way and it works, wonderful. Especially if you can shoot that way and not damage your nose with your right thumb. It must be how you were taught. I would like a few minutes with your teacher though.

This is of course a master eye thing. Easily diagnosed in a earlier column. It may surprise you to find that I teach off-hand (left for a right handed and right for a left handed) about half an hour into my basic casting classes. This is when I have firmly established the simple basics of the cast. With these now in the mind of the caster I have them put the rod in the 'off hand.' Yes, there is a lot of moaning and groaning. To their amazement though, they do rather well. I have them take it very slowly at first so each cast is correct and then repeat the correct moves which produced it.

Some students are even able to do better off handed than with their dominant hand. And there is often a very good reason for this. These are usually those who have been using spinning gear for some time and have the spinning rod casting motion well ingrained into the dominant hand and arm. This is also the way I break some from the inability to make a fair fly rod cast with the dominant hand. After they have gotten used to a bit of casting with the off hand, I explain I knew they could cast, it's just that they are refusing to do so. A bit of humor and they realize they will have to teach their rod hand to cast one element at a time now that their off hand know's how to cast.

What is really neat about this is that by having them learn to cast with both hands early on in the game they have learned not only with both hands, but both sides of their brain as well. Sort of locked it in there. At times I will separate the cast into a few parts for them. Perhaps a name on each element; back, stop, pause, forward, stop, pause, etc. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes they will call out these names at each part of the cast the first few times. Hey, if it works, go for it.

I hope you will at least try this for yourself, most will have no trouble at all and will soon be able to make some fair casts with the off hand. You will get about as good as you want or need to be at this, that's your call. The off hand and arm will prove much weaker than you thought they would be at first. Keep that in mind when teaching others who have not in some way trained their sets of muscles to respond either by second nature or at least on direct command. Time and practicing the right things makes for proficiency.

I still have a problem casting left handed with accuracy but can get it close enough to get the job done most of the time. Here's a real challenge, teach yourself the double-haul with your off hand. A lot like the 'rubbing the belly and patting the head' thing. It can be done but like making sausage too, 'not pretty to watch.'

Oh sure, you can learn to cast across your body and all sorts of contorted motions, heck those are just normal day-to-day things in fly-fishing. We never have the room or the place to make a cast as it should be, there is always some little thing forcing us into a new posture of cast. Heck, isn't that part of the fun? ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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