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Master Your Fly Casting

• Some of the world’s best casters started out casting poorly. But they stayed with it. Today they are world champs. Steve Rajeff is a good example. He started fly casting as a youngster and was having a terrible time with it. But he practiced and practiced and very shortly became a champion caster. He won the National all-round title 31 times and the bi-annual World Casting Championship 13 times in 17 tournaments. Besides being possibly the best caster of all time, he is among the very best all-round light tackle anglers today. Keep practicing. And remember Rajeff!

• I asked Chris Korich, one of the all-time best casters, what was the single most important element in successful casting. “Easy. It’s the casting loop,” he responded immediately. “Everything in fly casting is dependent on the loop. I don’t care whether it is accuracy or distance fly casting . . . the loop is the most important element. Regardless of skill, the fly caster must always pay attention to the loop. It cannot be over-emphasized.”

•Winston Moore is one of the world’s most successful anglers for big permit on a fly. Winston caught a giant permit that measured 51 inches in length and is undoubtedly the largest permit landed on a fly! Winston is a powerful caster, master of the double haul and is a very accurate caster. “Anyone after big permit on a fly better practice his casting before the trip. Accuracy is important but so is distance.”

•SOME ANGLERS SNEER at the distance fly-casting events and tournaments: “What good is it if you can throw a fly a mile without any accuracy?” Good point! So here’s a discipline that will satisfy the anglers who enjoy throwing the long line but also accurately. The best of both worlds! (From Masters Class, Level 11).

•But there are other lessons to be learned from this [Dry Fly] event. The ability to strip line in and out while adjusting distances is very important. Most inexperienced casters lengthen their line by casting on the water: they make a cast, lift up the line, and make another cast on the water, and they repeat this until they reach the target. Forget it! Most wary species are long gone, especially if you “rip” the line from the surface instead of lifting it quietly with each “measuring” cast.

You will also learn to judge the distances as the fly swirls back and forth during false casting. This is vital when you are lengthening your line via false casting in order to reach a feeding trout.

•HOW DOES THE BASS BUG EVENT HELP YOUR FISHING? If you fish with big flies (bass bugs, poppers, large streamers, etc.), this event will help you immensely. Important: One of the lessons you will learn is that, when casting air-resistant poppers or large weighted flies, you will have to wait a little longer on your back cast than you normally would if you were casting small trout flies. This is crucial!
Being able to pick up a lot of line and deliver a long accurate cast is certainly very helpful in just about every saltwater fly-fishing application. Bonefishing. Tarpon. Snook. Permit.

Tip: Don’t practice “air casting” in a supermarket, or during intermission at a concert, or while listening to a less-than-inspiring sermon. Not everyone understands the double-haul motion or what it’s for. If you insist on practicing the motion in public, take along the butt section of an old fly rod. People will then know that you’re an angler and pay no further attention to you.

•The One-Hand Fly Distance Event is frustrating, but challenging. It’s exhausting, but soothing. Dumb, in one way, but compelling in another. Degrading (such as when oodles of line drapes around your ears on a cast), and ego inflating when you unleash a cast of more than 150 feet. There will be times when you’ll seriously consider selling this specialized equipment in a garage sale and going back to your 4-weight rod forever; however, on other days, when you succeed, you’ll wonder, why isn’t this wonderful event in the Olympics?

•I enjoy seeing Steve Rajeff, Chris Korich, Henry Mittel and the other young pups cast the long fly, but I particularly like to watch casters such as Dick Fujita, who is 79 year old, not big, and has outlasted several pacemakers. Fujita lifts that heavy “fly rod,” masterfully waves the long, high density line a couple of times, and then with perfect timing sends the fly more than 200 feet.

•THE BENEFITS OF PRACTICE CASTING include better fishing results; the sheer pleasure derived from fly casting itself; and, it’s a healthy, wholesome activity that can be enjoyed by friends and family members. The degree of participation depends on the individual. One person may enjoy casting at targets or for distance strictly for personal satisfaction; another person may wish to enter competition at various tournament levels. The choice is yours. At the minimum, casting is a wonderful fill-in between fishing trips.

•Now when I’m fishing, I never make more than two false casts. I remove moisture from the dry fly on the back cast, because I found doing so on a forward cast tends to spray over the fish and this can alert wary species like trout. (Interview with Dick Fujita).

•SUPPOSE YOU BELONG TO A FISHING CLUB and every year it has one or more socials for members and their families. Besides activities for youngsters, raffle and door prizes, you need a zinger!

How about a fly-casting event? Since your group probably is composed of both veteran and novice casters, you could divide contestants into classes (e.g., Class A for those who have had more than three years of fly-casting experience and Class B for those who have less experience). Use Level One or Two (pages 27 and 33) or similar for the novice and Level Seven (page 51) for the more experienced casters. Tip: Select events that go by fast and are relatively simple.

•CAST AT ANY AGE. One can be a preteen or in his/her 90s and participate in casting for the pleasurable event that it is. Some are attracted to it for the highs that one can derive from competition while others simply cast for the fun of it.

•But while some women love the challenges of competitive casting, many enjoy it for what it is—a relaxing activity in which problems and stress seem to evaporate in the rhythmic flow of the fly cast. Perhaps there is no greater example than Casting For Recovery (CFR). This is a national non-profit support and educational program for women who have or have had breast cancer.

•I talked to Mildred, his wife. “Bus is not doing very well,” she informed me. “Could you do me a favor? Could you tell him I won the Gold in distance fly for him?” "Absolutely.” I could hear her telling him. Then a little later, she said: “Bus gave a ‘thumbs up’ sign. And he smiled. He said something but I couldn’t understand him. But he smiled.” Bus died a few days later. (From Confessions of an Addicted Long Distance Fly Caster chapter).

•HERE’S A WAY TO SHARPEN YOUR ACCURACY. After you develop casting proficiency, decrease the size of the target. Instead of casting at a Hula Hoop or a 30-inch target, cast to a smaller target, such as an aluminum pie pan. I don’t know why it is, but casters come closer to smaller targets than hitting the bigger ones. Many successful competitive casters know this and pinpoint a spot in the center of the target rather than aiming at the target itself.


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