DO WE PRACTICE?
All you need is some open area, where you can set up some targets from 20 to 65 feet for most fly casting accuracy practice games. Remember: In fly casting, you need almost the same amount of room behind you for the back casts. Thus if you set a target at 50 feet, you will actually need 100 feet of space to accommodate your back cast.
I prefer a park or athletic field, because, in addition to the ample room, there is often a breeze. One of the facts of angling life is that there is usually some wind blowing on the waters, so we want to simulate angling conditions as closely as possible. I sometimes practice in my back yard, which is not very big, but mostly I go to a park for the serious sessions, including distance fly casting. If I have more time, I drive to our casting club located in Chicago's famous Lincoln Park.
WHAT KIND OF TACKLE?
You can use just about any fly-fishing gear available. Assuming that most of you are trout fishers, an 8-ft. for a No. 5 or 6 line is fine but an 8-1/2 or 9-ft. fly rod is better for some of the accuracy events we're going to practice. If you're a bass-bug fly rodder, you're probably using an 8-1/2 or 9-foot fly rod, that takes an 8 or 9 weight line.
IMPORTANT: Whenever you practice your fly casting, always, repeat always, tie on a fly or a piece of bright yarn (for visibility) to your leader. If you use a fly, remove the point and barb, just in case you make a bad cast. Best Bet: Tie some flies like the sample on this page. This pattern is easy to see and is used in casting tournaments. Many fishermen practice without a fly or yarn which is wrong because, without the resistance of a fly, your leader swishes back and forth faster and you change your casting stroke to accommodate this.
Also Important: In practice or actual fishing always wear eyeglasses (sunglasses or clear). Make that a "must" rule. More than one person has lost his vision because he was fly fishing without glasses.
I'll assume that your fly reel is spooled with the right weight line for the rod you're using. Tie on a 7-1/2 ft. leader tapered down to 2X or 3X for initial practice sessions for the trout fishing events. You'll need a heavier leader for Bass Bug practice event, which we'll describe in a later session.
THE TARGETS: When we were kids, first we wanted to learn how to throw a ball, rock, stick or snowball, and after we learned the throwing motion, we wanted to hit a target. We threw at objects. Garbage cans. A tree. Whatever. And, boy, did we feel good when we hit our target! Right?
The same applies with casting. After we develop a casting stroke, and are comfortable with it, we need targets. Brightly colored Hula Hoops make wonderful targets on the land. I bought six for $14.87 (and I think that the price even included an ice cream bar).
If you can't
find Hula Hoops you can make your own targets from a variety of materials.
An old brightly colored garden hose is ideal. Make six hoops that are
about 30 inches in diameter. Use duct tape to secure the ends together.
Actually you need only five for most games but six for the Bass Bug Event.
If you are going to cast on water, you need some small weights and string
to anchor the targets, and some pieces of wood or cork or other buoyant
material to keep them afloat. Set five targets between 25 to 50 feet.
Get those targets ready because next session we start with one of the most important games.
Jim C. Chapralis