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KonchuJune 2nd, 2007, 7:52 pm
Site Editor

Posts: 505
My sister attended a day camp for women today and learned to fly cast. They used an interesting technique to teach her.

They put a small, light, toy mouse on the end of her line. After about an hour, she could use proper casting technique to snap a mouse trap several yards away!
TroutnutJune 2nd, 2007, 7:56 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Interesting technique!

I've found myself teaching a few people how to cast lately, although as the forum members who fished with me last week can testify, my own casting leaves much to be desired. I've really been at a loss for a good technique to use on a beginner. I can see several things wrong with their cast and try to diagnose them one by one, but I don't know a good order for it. I've been starting with explaining that it's all in the timing and working with the rod, rather than using a lot of force. At least that way their arms won't get tired while I fumble around for an effective way to explain the rest of it.

Anyone know a good book about how to teach casting?
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
TeacherpreaJune 3rd, 2007, 5:44 am
Hobart, Indiana

Posts: 8
I by no means am an expert fly caster but I was a teacher and principal for 34 years!!! No seriously, I did teach fly casting for a friend who ran a summer recreation camp one summer. Here is what I did. I went through the whole bit about keeping your elbow tight against one's side, did the eleven o'clock, two o'clock thing, use your forearm, then put a 10 foot piece of clothesline in each student's hand. Then I said, "Use all of the above and cast the rope." There is only one way to do that and that is to use enough force to bring the rope back, WAIT UNTIL IT STRAIGHTENS OUT ON THE BACK CAST BEFORE ONE STARTS THE FORWARD CAST! Once each student got the hang of it, I put a fly rod in their hand and said, "Do the same thing you did with the rope". With a little practice, getting the line out and controlling it, most could do a respectable job of laying the line out. After that, the rest was up to them, practice, practice, practice!!!!!!!!!!
Dick Gross
Hobart, IN
Shawnny3June 3rd, 2007, 8:14 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Nice suggestions, Dick. I also am a teacher, so I enjoy teaching casting, a nice break from academics. One thing to remember in teaching anyone anything is that most people can't handle more than one or two layers of instruction at a time. The problem is that to be a good flyfisheman you have to do about 10 things well at the same time. So here's how I like to simplify it:

I start by getting out 12-15 feet of flyline (just enough so the person can feel it load the rod when they cast properly), with no fly and no leader attached, and laying it straight ahead of me in the grass. Then, I hand the rod to the beginner. To simplify, I first I tell them to forget about their left hand. I just want them to learn how to load the rod. Then I tell them that the key to flycasting is line control, which means they have to learn how to use the energy from the moving line to load (bend) the rod, then use the loaded rod to get the line moving again. They have to try to FEEL the rod load at the end of each casting stroke. This is the key to getting past the floppiness of those first casts, feeling the rod load. I haven't yet tried taking the Zen approach and blindfolding anyone yet, but doing so might really help simplify the problem of casting to the one critical aspect - feeling line control. If the beginner can learn to FEEL line control rather than making it a dizzying array of arm positions, mechanical complexities, timing considerations, etc., then he can focus on the most important thing - the fish he's trying to get his fly to. There's plenty of time for refinement after he's learned to load the rod.

A helpful hint that addresses a common misconception that often hinders beginners: Casting is not a fluid motion. Want floppy casts? Then make casting a fluid motion, because when it's fluid you'll just trace loose 'S' curves in the air. To get the rod loaded, you've got to think of casting as strong thrusts interspersed with statuesque pauses. It's these pauses that freak out the beginner. He thinks that the line will only stay in the air with a casting motion full of sound and fury, when all he really needs to do is give it a firm thrust each time the rod loads, then - the hard part - WAIT for it to load again. Get him to see that, and you've gotten him a long way towards good casting.

Once the beginner moves on from just waving a section of line in the air and begins involving their left hand, another misconception often needs to be addressed. Too many people have read or watched "A River Runs Though It," one of my favorite stories but one which doesn't always give the best actual flyfishing advice. The idea of learning to cast to a metronome is ridiculous, because every time you let out more line you need to allow more time for the line to lay out. There is a certain rhythm to casting, but it is not a regular rhythm - the time between each thrust must get longer. What is the constant? Feeling the rod load before starting the next false cast. I've found I often have to talk a beginner through this misconception before he can begin understanding proper timing.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
TeacherpreaJune 3rd, 2007, 11:25 am
Hobart, Indiana

Posts: 8
Shawn, I can tell you are an excellent teacher. Just reading what you presented, I could cast! The rhythm point is certainly the key as is the pause. Hence, the piece of rope forces the pause.
Enjoyed your concepts and approach!
Dick Gross
Hobart, IN
Shawnny3June 5th, 2007, 9:29 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
WARNING: Rod collectors may want to carefully guard this post from their spouse.

Thank you for your kind words, Dick. I completely agree with your comments about the rope. In fact, Lee Wulff tells a story in which he debunks the notion that rod lengths and weights play a critical role in flyfishing success. To prove his point, he taught himself quite easily how to cast respectable distances with no rod at all. More importantly, he caught fish that way. My guess is that what you do with the rope is not all that different from what he was doing. All the rod really is is an extension of your arm, which begs the question: Really, how many rods must one own to catch fish?

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
BillyJune 6th, 2007, 7:08 am
Chester County, PA

Posts: 10
Shawn - I'd like to add one thing to your technique (which is excellent, by the way). I have found that in the very first stages that I make the student lay the line out behind them on the grass. Let it sit there for a moment. The line is generally very straight and they get the idea of how long it takes to get there. Then when they move the rod forward, the line shoots in a straight direction and the student gets an idea of how good it feels when they make a relatively good cast. It also teaches them to be patient and not make the whipping casts that they are apt to do when watching other flycaster's poor techniques. After a while the backcast is slow and fluid enough to have them not touch the line to the ground. - Billy
I was born with nothing and still have most of it. . .
Shawnny3June 6th, 2007, 3:38 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Excellent idea, Billy. I'll have to try that.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis

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