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Practice Casting Before Hitting the Stream (6/16/03)

By: Don Varga, New Jersey Correspondent - The Fly Fishing Report

Don’t wait until you’re on the stream to remember that you cannot cast your fly rod.

Have you ever been on stream and saw that the fisherman next to you is more of a hazard to you than to the fish?  His casts are hitting everywhere except the water.  Even the birds take cover.  Don’t let this be you.  Practice your cast before the season begins.  This will help ensure that no one will get hurt including you. 

This past salmon season in New York I was fishing in the “fly fishing only” section of the river and saw there was only one place to fish.  The river was crowed so I was surprised to see an opening.  I waded out into the water and started to see that a crowd of people began to accumulate onto the bridge overlooking the river.  I didn’t know why but I thought maybe salmon were passing under the bridge and they were watching them. What I didn’t see were the clues out on the water until it was too late.

I was preparing my line to cast out, when I heard a whisk of air buzz by me.  I didn’t look up, but I should have.  The next thing I saw was this guy downstream from me starting his back cast and I could tell from the angle he was casting that it was directly lined up with me.  No sooner than I saw him begin to cast, his black and pink fly was one inch from my nose spraying water onto my face.  Needless to say, I lost my cool and began to have a quick spout of casting rage.  This is when I noticed that the people on the bridge were laughing and having a good time at my expense while I fished “In the line of fire”.  I found out later they were the “regulars”.  They named him “Mr. Dangerous”.  When he showed up it was time to leave the water.  Mr. Dangerous next cast wrapped around my 6 weight Sage XP, now I was really angry.  So I decided to walk over to Mr. Dangerous expecting to have a heart to heart talk.

To my surprise Mr. Dangerous was terrified.  He was in his late 60’s or so and was very apologetic.  In fact, he made the comment that he was going to give up the sport and that it was a bad idea to have even tried to fly fish.  I began talking to him and he told me that this was his first experience with fly-fishing.  He didn’t know anything about anything when it came to this sport.  I suggested we continue our conversation on the riverbank.  He agreed.  The crowd on the bridge cheered as we walked from the water and they quickly took our spots on the river.  We talked fly-fishing on the bank and then went into the parking lot for a few casting lessons.  Mr. Dangerous was not the quickest learner when it came to casting but he was determined to cast correctly.  After about an hour of practice he was well on his way in becoming, “Mr. Not-so-Dangerous”.

Fly Fisherman usually are very friendly so I took advantage of the situation.  I wanted my spot back.  I walked Mr. Dangerous back down to the river and he walked out to the spot he was in before our lessons.  As expected the “Regulars” quickly left the river.  I took position up-stream of him and we began to fish.  It didn’t take long for the “Regulars” watching to realize that Mr. Dangerous was not so dangerous any more.  As with most stories we fished happily ever after (Safely).

Learning to cast a fly rod is not as hard as it seems to be.  Most people can pick up a fly rod and cast it to some degree.  Usually a self-learner will get discouraged sooner than later.  They see someone casting their rods almost effortlessly and think that they can do that too.  When you begin to get fatigued or your line does not go where you wish your temper and patience leave quickly.

Here are a few things to remember while casting.

Ø  There are three distinct steps to a fly cast.  The back cast, thr pause between either the front or back cast, and the front cast.  Failure to respect any one of these three steps will result in a bad cast.

Ø  Remember where the tip of the rod points, the line will follow.  If the tip points down the line goes down.

Ø  For basic casting a tighter loop is better than a wide loop.  Watch your line as it travels behind you on the back cast and then again as it travels front wards during the front cast.

Ø  While keeping your fly rod tip up, only allow it to travel from a position of 10 O’clock to 2 O’clock only.  This distance will be greater as you are able to cast at greater distances.

Ø  Keep your elbow tucked into your side.  Let your wrist control the movements of the rod.

Ø  Do not try to cast farther than you can control your line.

Ø  Practice, practice and practice.

 While practicing try casting for accuracy.  Place three rings on the ground within the practice area and try to cast your practice fly so that it lands within it.

 Hang one of the rings off the ground.  Try to cast your line so it flies through it.

 If you still are having trouble rent a video.  Videos are very good tools that help to visually demonstrate the proper techniques of casting.  There are many videos to choose from.  They all are good.  I suggest you pick the fisherman that you enjoy the most and pick his or hers.  Although there are small differences between videos each will teach you the basic fundamentals of basic casting.

 If you still have trouble or want to have the immediate fix.  Take a casting lesson.  Your local fly should provide these instructions or would know who does.

Reprinted from The Fly Fishing Report



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