During the past two months, I've conducted a weekly casting
practice seminar here on FlyAnglersOnLine.com. I've tried
to convey the importance of accuracy and distance casting
as it relates to fishing success and the necessity for
practicing on a continuing basis. I hope I've made casting
practice more fun by introducing some of the American Casting
Association (ACA) events.
For almost five decades I was able to make a living via my
love for fishing, which included a guiding gig but mostly
arranging international fishing trips for many anglers. I
was fortunate (because of my work) to be able to fish in
40 countries, so I've had the opportunity to observe people
fishing in various circumstances.
One thing became evident. Except for trolling or still fishing,
the people who were skilled casters invariably caught the vast
majority of fish. Homer Circle once remarked that 10 percent
of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish. I think this
is very true, especially in fly fishing.
As I've mentioned, you can buy the very best tackle and reserve
a prime fishing location, but if you can't make the cast, well,
your fishing results will suffer.
I hope that my series of articles will inspire you to practice
on a continuing basis. Don't get discouraged. You'll have some
good days, a few great days, but some poor casting days, too.
Two days ago I was practicing the Single-handed Distance Fly
Event for the upcoming ACA National Casting Championship, and
I was amazed with some of my casts. The line traveled in a
hurry with just the right trajectory and unfolded a long
distance away. I'd love to be able to make those casts
in the Nationals. I felt good about my casting and my
Yesterday, under more favorable weather conditions, I went
back to the practice field with expectations of making even
longer casts. The first cast flew out with such authority
that it not only took ample yards of running line through
the guides, but yanked angrily at my reel for more, as if
to say, "Hey, today's the day, give me more line."
Then everything went downhill. I don't know why. My casts
were pitiful. Short. Crummy. Pathetic.
I looked at the rod. Perhaps I had missed one of the guides
in stringing up my fly line through them? Nope. Maybe my
leader was knotted up or was coiled. It was fine. I made
a few more casts. They were terrible. They not only didn't
go far, but I hit the rod tip or myself with the line often,
and sometimes the cast looked like it was going well but would
abruptly stop as though it hit an invisible wall. Well, this
got me mad. I put more and more oomph and muscle into the
casts, but that didn't help. The results were even worse. I
stopped for a while. I imitated (or tried to!) Steve Rajeff,
and then Johnny Dieckman (a great caster in decades past who
used a different casting style) and anyone else I could think
of. No go.
My casts were so bad, that I wondered if the rod tip was fractured,
even though I was using a high quality rod that was only a few
months old. Nope. It was fine.
I began to panic. The Nationals are only a few weeks away, and
my casts were becoming worse and worse. I was puzzled, frustrated,
dejected, baffled, stymied, depressed and defeated. I reeled in
and went home.
I hope that some of you may find casting practice so interesting
that you may want to compete in tournament casting. While I love
to fish, I don't have the opportunity to fish as much as I used to,
so casting practice for personal enjoyment or for competition
in future tournaments is not only fun but it keeps me active
and hones my skills for when I can go fishing.
1. Bad days happen. It matters not whether you're casting
at targets, on a lawn for distance, on a stream for trout or
a flats for bonefish. It's no different then when a baseball
batting champ suddenly goes into such a terrible slump that
his Aunt Minnie could probably strike him out even if she
2. As I've mentioned, distance casting--especially with heavy
equipment--should be confined to five minutes at a time; otherwise,
bad form will happen; bad form practiced becomes bad habits. I
was stubborn and continued casting for almost any hour. Result?
I may have even sprained my hand and tomorrow I go on an important
trout fishing trip.
3. Anger will not get the rod/line/leader/fly to behave properly.
Timing and execution of casting basics will.
4. Hopefully the next time I practice the casting stroke,
double haul and everything else will be fine. I mention this,
because some of you may experience similar problems from time
to time. Hey, take it easy. Relax! It will get better.
The other day I met a fishing acquaintance who is going to Patagonia
next winter to fish for trout. He is not a good caster. He has
trouble casting more than 35 feet, but worse is his lack of accuracy.
I suggested that he join our casting club.
"Oh, no," he said emphatically, "I'm not interested in
competition! I'm not interested in tournaments. I don't
I was about to explain to him that joining a casting club doesn't
mean he has to compete. He could practice on his own. Pretend
the 30-inch floating targets are the trout's window of vision.
But before I could tell him that, he interrupted.
"I've got a golfing date and I'm late," he said. "I gotta win
some money back from my golfing partners." So much for his
I hope that various fishing clubs become active in casting to
a point where they not only offer casting practice but also fun
tournaments on a regular basis. Just look at the FAOL Fish-Ins
and you'll see that everyone is having a great time casting.
I have a feeling that casting will become important in the future.
It needs exposure. I'm grateful to FAOL for the wonderful
opportunity it gave me to present this series. It's a start.
Maybe one day, one of the sports television executives will wake
up and say: "Hey, there are more than 40 million fishermen in
this country. Most of them cast. Why not develop casting
competition for television? Certainly, this could be as
interesting as some of the events we're doing."
And how about casting in the Olympics? Hey, I've got nothing
against curling, but, gee whiz there are thousands of anglers
for every curler, and no one is going to tell me that watching
these guys sweep ice is more fun than watching the casters.
Maybe the light will go on.
Have a good summer, and remember casting practice makes fishing
sense. ~ Jim C. Chapralis
Jim Chapralis is a world traveler, a pioneer in the international fishing
travel business, and author, most recently of Fishing Passion,
reviewed in our Book Review section. He is an avid angler - and caster.
Currently involved with the 94th Annual National Casting
Tournament July 29 to August 3, 2002. You can reach Jim via his