July 16th, 2001

The New Guy
By James Castwell

Well, let's look at the 'new-be,' those of you who see someone casting a fly rod and wonder just how the heck they can do 'that!' I was there once, we all were; and survived. The truth is, there has been more than one time when I said to myself those same words. The first double-haul I ever saw left me breathless. So now you have a fly rod and find out you need practice, you 'really' need practice. Your problem is this, just what the heck to practice? You know you have not yet 'got it together.' So how are you expected to get any better if you continue to practice the same things you have been doing? Good question and the answer may surprise you.

Let's assume you are doing things all wrong. Well, that won't last very long, you will not be able to accomplish much. No distance, no accuracy, no loops, no fun! (Probably no fish either.) Ok, I presume you will try something else, almost anything else. Good. At this point, almost anything different will help. Remember, if it is not going well, change something. If you only continue doing things the same, you will only practice mistakes, we sure don't want that. Nope, change something, even if it's just how you place your feet.

Eventually a few things will come together and you will make progress; you will continue to 'fine-tune' your reflexes and in time, your casts will smooth out. Stay with it. You do not have the muscles built up and coordinated yet. They may be big and strong, but you have not used them in this particular sequence ever before. They will 'learn' and so will you.

About this time you have to concentrate on each cast. Forming the front loop, when to pull back, when to stop, how long to wait for the loop to open, when to pull forward and when to stop the rod on the front cast to form the loop. Things tangle, the loop is too big and plops in a heap about 30 feet out, all kinds of crummy stuff can and will happen. You probably didn't do one of them right. Remember, you need to build the muscles and coordination to make this stuff work right.

You will wonder why your thumb is sore, why it hurts a bit to open your fingers real wide, where that twinge in the shoulder came from. Those all go with the territory, all part of the game. All mean that something is happening. In time you will learn to loosen up your shoulder and let it also move a bit on the casts, but for now you have it jammed so tight it could stop a bullet. That's wrong, but, it's normal. We all went thru it. You will learn to stop the rod with your biceps instead of your wrist, good, that's progress. The wrist is alright for very short casts, but, should be firm for the longer casts, it all comes in time.

And, don't be too impatient, this is most likely not going to come overnight, even though you may wish it so. Time will be measured in years, not days, heck, that's part of the fun of it all. Not to say that you won't see things change nearly every time you go out, you probably will, but, it will not all come at once. I have seen the occasional person pick up a fly rod for the first time and become disgustingly good in about fifteen minutes. Trust me, these guys are rare indeed.

Try to practice something on EACH cast. It doesn't matter a lot what it is, so much as that each cast is made intentionally. Don't just go out and whip the thing around. That will lead to nothing. If you want to get better, then practice at 'getting better.'

These days I am still 'teaching' myself to cast left-handed. It's not easy. My loops still are not as I want them, line speed is poor, back-cast is too high, (my left shoulder is still too tight) my front cast is too low, (caused by the too high back-cast) the casts always land too far to my right side out in front, (I am master right-eyed) I still lean the rod too far over to the left, not as straight up as I want it, my arm hurts, my thumb is sore and my shoulder is stiff. Other than that, heck, my left-handed casting is just fine! Ooops, (I am learning the double-haul left handed too). That really messes things up.

Fun? I love it! ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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