How good are you at fly casting? Can you control your fly line and land you flies on a 1 foot target consistently. Can you change direction and cast to both left and right easily? If yes then congratulations you are a proficient fly caster and will have seen a marked increase in takes from trout and fish caught. If not then you need to put in the practice so you too can make better catch rates. This is where fly casting practice drills can become an important part on your road to being a better fly fishing caster and a more accomplished angler in general.
Drill 1 – Muscle memory
It is well know that if you perform an act enough times it will become second nature to you. This is because your muscles store the act or movement in their fibres and can react on instinct to the task in question. This is the same for any fly fishing cast, perform it enough times and your arms can then perform it without thinking about it.
In fact performing it over and over will increase muscle and tendon strength and flexibility so you don’t become tired easily when out fly fishing. There is nothing worse than being invited to a top fishing destination to become exhausted and unable to continue fishing. This can be easily rectified with a bit of extra work.
In fact it is recommended to go out and perform some casting practice before the new fishing season begins especially if its been a long time since you last casted. That way your first visit to fly fish will not be full of errors and time demanding problems.
To be honest I don’t think many anglers go through the ritual rather putting in the time while fishing and hopefully by the second or third visit most of the problems will have been ironed out so fishing can be more successful.
However to make the most of your preseason I recommend performing casting practice with both hands for a 30 min cycle each day for a week or so to get your arms and shoulders into the groove. Believe me it works I have tried both pre-season workouts and not and when not doing it I was sluggish and not accurate in my casting.
Drill 2 – Accuracy
Like with the muscle memory workout accuracy is very important with fly fishing. The ability to land a fly inches from a moving fish can mean extra takes and catches when your buddies who can’t are getting few to none. To practice this put out several small hula hoops, plates or something small to aim at onto a grass field or large lawn at different distances and angles to where you are standing.
Then practice casting into each hoop or target one after the other. Start by getting your distances correct for each hoop by casting to it several times then when you have them all worked out mix it up by changing quickly from one hoop to the other.
It takes a bit of practice to get things working correctly but believe me when you can do it on grass without thinking about it you will be able to do it on the water very easily. Then when a fish shows to your side and you are able to change direction and drop a fly right on its nose and woosh your in!
Drill 3 Practice new casts
This is also the time to practice new casts. Especially when trying to change direction should you use the snake roll or a single spey cast, maybe the snap T is better? The thing about it here, is what is best for you as an angler. If you are hopeless at spey casting but can snake roll easily then use that as your change of direction cast.
You can of course use this time to practice the casts you are not so good at or have just found out about but this is the beauty of fly casting there are no rigid rights and wrongs its only what’s good for you and of course what is safe.
I have learnt many new casts on the grass first before taking to the river or lake to try them with the feel of the water drag. Its also important to test casts during windy days as well as calm. There are times when you will find it almost impossible to make a cast because of strong downstream gusts or worse swirling wind which makes all things dangerous.
However if you put in a bit of practice before hand there is no reason why you couldn’t still get a bit of fishing in when your buddies have all but packed up to go home because of inadequate casting.
Don’t worry about distance, every angler I have seen who is new to the sport is only concerned about distance. This may be because all his buddies are able to cast 30 yards but if you work on your accuracy and practice your casting you will be able to cast longer and longer without having to work at it and you will also be able to do it with accuracy something I’m sure your buddies cannot do correctly. If I had only one choice to make I would choose accuracy over distance every time. It will get you more fish and that my friends is the name of the game at the end of the day.
Here Charlie Beadon shows how to practice with fish made from wood placed in different angles and distances and has even made it into a fly fishing practice game with his buddies. Good idea if you can’t get out to fish. Thanks Charlie for the tip!
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