November 24th, 2008

The Perfect Cast
By James Castwell

September 8, 1997
This was the second column I wrote for FAOL. It was an important subject back then and it still is. Perhaps you have not gone back into my past scribbling's and may have missed this. I hope you enjoy it and maybe it can help some too. ~ JC

"Well, you're back, good. I hope my last article got you wound up and ready to learn how to get really, really, good at casting. Now, forgive me, but if you wanted that, you would have gone out and bought some of those books on casting. In fact, you probably already have a few. There are some very good ones; some less than, some more than, but for the most part they all do the job. Yet, for some reason you feel that just maybe you can pick up something in all of this.

Could happen.

I write this remembering being humiliated by more than one good caster. Once was 1968 at Scientific Anglers in Midland, Michigan. I was new to the sport and lived only a few miles from them, so over I went. Friendly? I should say. The "Big-Guy" grabbed a flyrod and we went out front onto a casting platform over their pond. Well, he cast some line — then some more line — then the whole line — and then a whole bunch of the backing! Jeeze!

I tried not to look too impressed, but the truth is I nearly gave up the sport. But, I didn't. I stayed with it. I learned, practiced, worked, got better, started helping a few friends, got even better. That's how I got into teaching.

Then, there was the time at our camp on the AuSable river. One of the guys showed up with a new Russ Peak rod and proceeded to show us what he could do with it. My friend, it was a humbling experience. He was casting side-arm over sage brush and he laid out the whole line in about four casts. I couldn't do that. I'm not so sure I could do it today. He was good. He had "IT," whatever "IT" is. He later went on to run the fly-fishing end of 3M.

Are You At Your Best?

Some people seem to have an ability to do things that we mere mortals just don't have. Like golf, tennis, or playing the piano. All we can do is to try really hard and be content with our best. Good enough to get it out there and catch a few fish, but never spectacular. Well, that's life; that's the way things are. I told you last time that I'm not a great caster.

It's true, but I am a good one. In fact a pretty darn good one. But, I'll never be great.

And you know what? It's O.K. with me. Perhaps it wasn't years ago, but it's OK, now. The fact is, I had to work pretty hard to get where I am now. But, I'm glad I did. It has all been more than worth it.

It does feel good to cast a smooth line, an accurate cast, a darn good loop, and sometimes, a heck of a long one. And, you can do it too. But it does take practice, and for some of us, a lot of practice.

I've cast with, fished with, and even guided some world class casters and fly fishermen. They're no different from you and me. They're just a little better at casting, and they got there the hard way, they worked at it.

Don't hold back. Find out how good you really are. Maybe you're one of them. Work, practice, learn, read, study, and then, think about what you're doing while you practice. Don't just go out and whip your flyrod around.

Analyze What You're Doing

Watch your line, rod, reel, and hand at all degrees of the cast. Put a name on each element of your cast. If something isn't working, don't try harder; CHANGE IT! Trying harder could even make it worse; change something! Maybe just the placement of your feet.

Now, here's a question for you:

Are you casting the flyrod or the fly line?

Is your flyrod a lever to sweep the line around, or is it simply a somewhat stiff part of the line?

Analyze what you're doing. Have someone watch you. Tell them that you are going to try to cast just like the books say.

Nice tight controlled loops; front and back.

Powerful stop on the back cast.

The correct amount of reach-back drift.

No slack in your pick-up as you come forward.

A good accelerating forward motion to a solid stop.


The perfect cast! You can do it! We need more good casters, you may be one of them. Becoming aware; putting names on each of the actions of casting, studying and improving each; that's the start of teaching yourself to cast well. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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