HOW IMPORTANT IS FLY CASTING?
I got to thinking the other day, so I took some aspirin and lay down for a while. Once the shock of the initial thought was over I eased into my thoughts a little more carefully. These particular thoughts were on how important casting is.
I like to practice casting, and I have reached the status of poor caster (a promotion from my previous rank, the horrible caster). When I practice I usually practice whatever I feel like working on and not necessarily what I should be working on. Example: I can cast my 8 weight into the backing if I really pay attention to what I am doing and get my double haul timing just right, but I have trouble hitting a hula hoop and 30 feet. I think it's really fun to get the line screaming through the guides, it's very satisfying, but that really doesn't help me fish any better. My accuracy is not what most people call "good," but it's good enough to catch fish from time to time. I also get tailing loops tying knots in my leader fairly often, and my presentation is not as consistent I would like. Who cares, I still love fly fishing.
So what is my point? Many people shy away from fly angling and go to spinning or bait casting outfits because they are intimidated by the fly cast. I've heard "I can't get the timing just right" or "I can't cast very far" or even "I could never cast like those guys on TV." Who cares, nobody casts perfect and 99.9999 percent of fly casters will never cast like a pro.
Now, I'm not saying that casting is not important, but it isn't the most important thing. Casting is a means to get the fly in front of the fish. You do not need to have a movie made about your life and times to do that. You just have to go out and try. The more you cast and, more importantly, practice casting, the better you will be at casting. Oh, and never turn down a free lesson either.
In the mean time go out to your nearest trout stream and fish it. Enjoy the river, the woods, and the wildlife sharing the river with you. Enjoy being away from the office, the grass that needs to be mowed, and the deck that needs to be fixed, and the bills that need to be paid. Try to catch a fish, but who cares if you don't. A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.
If more people would think of casting a fly rod as just another way to present a lure to a fish and not some art reserved only for snobs or young fanciful men, I think that fly fishing would be much more popular today. I find it funny that people build up this idea that one must be a master of some great Zen art to catch a fish on a fly rod, but I watched some guy on TV look like he's throwing wet noodles around a river and catching fish.
Maybe the "art" of casting is what draws some people to the sport. They see a beautifully performed cast with tight loops scream through the guides and land ever so gently 80 feet in front of the angler, and they want to look like that guy or gal. That might be why most people who stick with fly angling more than a season seem to have similar interests. I don't know many fly anglers that do not place importance on conservation, sportsmanship, and respect of their surroundings. Maybe that has something to do with it, maybe not.
I have been casting for about 10 years, and I practice a lot. I read all of the instructions I can, watch the videos, and I've read all of James Castwell's casting articles at least twice. I will be good at casting some day, I will get rid of my tailing loops, and I will learn to control the size of my loops on demand. Until then, I am not going to let a sissy thing like casting get in the way of my fishing.