You have seen the riser, forty feet upstream.
Carefully you enter the water, easing your way
into position for a perfect presentation. The
clear water shows you exactly where you can step,
crouching slightly forward as you strip out the
required fly line, never taking your eyes from the
widening rings of yet another insect becoming dinner.
The conditions are just right, no wind, plenty of
room for a back-cast, a trout upstream unaware of
Ya, right. Like you think that will ever, even just
once, happen? In your dreams perhaps, but rarely while
you are fly fishing. That stuff is what happens to
those fancy guys who write the pretty picture books
on the shelves at the fly shops. For guys like you and
I it just doesn't happen that way. My day would be more
likely to be this way. The fish is a long cast, across
stream, bushes behind me, lard covered rocks and a small
So when I practice my fly casting, what do I do. You guessed
it. And we used to teach it that way too, back when we had
the school out here. Often the new students would look a bit
concerned with the wind at our facilities, often at least ten
to fifteen miles per hour or more. But, it really helps to
practice in such a breeze. First off, you most often will
be fishing in some wind. You need to learn to handle it.
Facing into it will help you with your back-cast, makes
it nice and straight. Casting with the wind gives you
practice on driving a hard tight loop into your back-cast,
without doing so, things fall apart fast. Remember, wind
is our friend, slack is our enemy; wind can help reduce
Now, sure it is fun to stand up nice and proud and look like
a ballerina with a fly rod, feels good and impresses some
folks...but, it won't catch fish. Nope, you need to get
into all kinds of goofy positions and figure out how to
make a cast. Really try to make it hard for yourself.
If you can still make a good cast one way, make it harder.
You may just be surprised at how good you really are.
Getting confident now, switch to the opposite hand, that
should spice up your game some. You will never get good
with out trying different things.
True, there are many times when you can actually stand
with some degree of comfort and cast, more often than not,
but, there are times when it is not even remotely possible.
Here is just one example from a month ago in the Bahamas.
We spotted a few bonefish at the four o'clock position,
with me standing in and facing the bow of the boat, that
would be behind me to my right. The guide went ballistic
when I started my false casting at the ten o'clock position.
(It was easier and faster than turning tight to my right
and getting into the right position for the cast) Two false
casts to the ten o'clock target and one delivery on my
back-cast dropped my fly right on target. One cast, one
bonefish. Had I fiddled around trying to get into a better
position for the cast the fish would have been long gone.
Experiment with all kind of casting positions, change your
feet, how much and how far you lean, or bend or whatever.
Make a game out of it. You can only improve. Here is a
picture of a little boat taken at a Fish-In. The caster
had to sit while two guys rocked the boat as he cast. It
was an accuracy contest. Six hula-hoops arranged at different
distances. It was won by the oldest guy there (also had
fished the most). Point made.
~ James Castwell