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December 27th, 1999

Do The Experts Practice?
By James Castwell

Some things deserve repeating. This is one of my favorites. "Repeating an action, over and over, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity." I used the quote marks, but can't give you the author. Rest assured, he must have been a fly-casting instructor. Just had to be.

This is a subject I have written on many times because it deserves to be repeated, 'over and over.' Hopefully with different results. Casting practice is what I am talking about. Facts speak for themselves. Hardly anyone practices fly casting. About the only ones who do are those who love the feeling of a beautiful cast performed to the best of their ability at the given moment. The rest don't bother, casting for them is just a part of fly-fishing. It's only a way of getting the fly to the fish so they can catch the thing. And it's probably just as well they do not practice.

Without a knowledge of what to practice they would only reinforce exactly what they already are doing without any possibility of improving. That would make it harder to improve in the future if they wanted to learn some new elements of casting. I am glad they don't practice. But for those of you who think you may be missing something in the thrill of a great cast, a well placed loop, a delicate presentation done on purpose, not by accident, a feeling of satisfaction in having done something about as well as it could have been done, or missing some fun, consider this:

If you think of it, you will admit that most of the expert fly-casters likely practice whenever they get the chance. Right? Right! Do you have any idea of what they practice? Would you be interested to know they mostly do it about the same? Yes, there are certain aspects of the cast that all need to control. The basics. The little elements upon which each cast depends. Ok, I am going to give you a little list of things for you to do if and when you decide to actually go out and practice. First, make sure you have a leader on the line, any old one will do fine. Tie some fuzzy thing to the end if you like, it may stay on for a while, but it is not critical. Relax! That is critical.

Now strip off some fly line, about thirty feet, and gently pull out any coils it may have as you feed it out the rod. Assuming you are right handed, grip the line under a finger of your right hand and put your left hand in your pocket. No cheating here. Do it 'cause I said so. Start with using very little force on your forward casts making oversized front loops. Relax. If anyone is watching they will soon quit as they will assume you can't cast at all. Watching the front loops, gradually tighten them until the top line and the bottom of the loop are parallel on each cast. Keep these moving, in the air, no laying them down yet. Now turning your head slightly to the right, watch your back-casts and make sure they are doing the same thing. Finally, when you can make them the same as the front casts you are ready to move on.

Go back to the big oversized front casts again and start all over. Do this half a dozen times.

Sound simple? You bet, it is. It is also 'basics.' You need these to progress, we all do. Next strip off about ten feet more of fly line and add it to the cast, still with your left hand in your pocket. You will see a big difference as you attempt to get this amount under control using the same sequence as above. Trust me, don't just read this; go out and do it. When you can get all forty feet of line doing perfect parallel lines, front and back, and under perfect control, repeat it over and over, changing nothing. Do half a dozen repetitions of this as above. It is alright to take the line in your left hand after you have done a few of them. Do a few casts this way before you to stop practicing for the day.

These are not the only things they practice, but they are enough to get you on your way. Go out tomorrow and do it all over again. At least now you have something to practice, and that's a start. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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