For a number of years we ran a casting school out here on
the coast, wonderful location, a huge impoundment edged
with a grass lawn at Port Ludlow, Washington. At the end
of the one day school we would lay out on the grass a dozen
or so nine foot, six weight fly rods. They all had the same
reels and identical weight-forward lines. One after another,
the 'graduates' would pick up and cast each rod, lay it down
and move on to the next rod and so on. The rods were from
several different manufacturers. No two rods behaved the same.
The interesting part was, that after learning how to cast
during the day, each student was able within only a very
few casts, make each of the differing rods perform as they
should. That was as is should have been. It was the person
behind the rod who was responsible for the casting, not the
rod. Far too many times I have seen guys, who for one reason
or another, try rod after rod looking for one which might
improve their casting, most often to no avail. It is
disheartening to watch, they all are looking for the 'magic'
rod that will overcome their faults.
Anyone who has done much casting instruction will admit that
teaching a new person is far easier than trying to help and
correct one who has been doing it for years, and doing it
poorly. The bad habits are cemented in their brain. Things
happen as automatically as shifting into second gear with a
stick-shift car. It just happens, you are never even aware
I have come to realize that some of us, and that may include
you, may be as good at fly casting as we will ever be, or at
least about as good as we will ever be. And a new fly rod
will not help, and neither will practicing. When a person
is practicing, but his casting is poor, he may only be
reinforcing the already acquired bad habits. Practicing
will only make them stronger.
When they seek help and someone may point out a part of the
cast that can be improved in some way, as they attempt to
correct that area, the other habits defeat any real progress.
For them to work on any two things at once will lead to
frustration and the inability to make both changes occurs
at the same time. The results are dismal at best. A feeling
of desperation and confusion mix with near anger at themselves
and nothing of value is accomplished. For these a new rod
will not correct anything.
To make a fine cast there are many elements which must be
performed, some at the same time, others in an exacting
sequence, and that must be changed and modified as each
bit of line is added or shortened. Line control and rod
handling are not difficult to learn, but poor habits are
difficult to unlearn when practiced for many years.
If you feel you may be in this situation at least take heart.
You are not alone and you have been enjoying fly fishing for
years doing it the way you do. An instructor can only show
you where you might change a few things, he can not wave a
magic wand and fix anything, including you. If you are highly
motivated, and I mean very highly motivated, you may be able
to break thru the automatic habits and advance, but, I would
say the odds are against you and the frustration may not be
worth the effort.
Learning the Double haul is another thing entirely. Unless
one has absolutely no coordination whatsoever, it can be
grasped and by most, rather quickly. Even then, one must
be able to control his basic casting first. The double-haul
will give increased line speed which may compensate for some
other casting flaws, but when it does the result is not as
good as it could be if all parts were done properly.
So there you have it. Did I want to write this? No, I did not,
but it is the truth as I see it. You may agree or disagree,
my email will be full either way. If I have disheartened
you in any way, it was surely not my intent. I just wanted
to let you in on all sides of fly casting instruction and
learning. I have not found anyone who I could not help at
least a little bit, but there have been times when I sure
wish I had been able to do more.
Just because someone seems to be a good caster does not
necessarily make them a good teacher. Casting and teaching
are not quite the same thing. The better coaches have been
teaching for many years, have seen a lot of styles and flaws
and have found ways of communicating suggestions on the
corrections in effective ways. A newer teacher may miss a
simple thing and it may become an ingrained flaw only to be
repaired, if possible, in the future by someone more
If your casting is not what you would like it to be, take it
slow, find help in any of it's many forms, try on your own
to analyze exactly each part of you casting stroke and see
if changing any of them seem to help. Try not to get too
locked into any style you may have seen or read about. We
are each different and our casting will be unique to each
of us. ~
~ James Castwell