competition fly casting, at least distance casting isn’t my thing.
as much as i might have a great time watching others partake and know full well that there’s a lot to be brought back from it to the fishing world (similarly to how Formula 1 racing technology comes back to our everyday cars), i’ll learn a lot from it but i don’t enjoy it myself.
i’ve hurt myself so much in the past doing other activities that this type of casting leaves me in pain. big pain. i’ll play along briefly with my friends at various shoot-outs at Gatherings but i won’t practice for it anymore. getting good at the distance game means an enormous amount of effort both physically and mentally and today’s featured comment is about this last part, the mental aspect.
however, as much as the thoughts below are geared towards competition they can also be of great benefit to the fly angler desiring to be a better caster, better prepared to attack a challenging situation in everyday fishing or on a special trip.
confidence, knowing when to give it all or hold back, repeatability, time constraints and looking outside of the fly casting world to find ways to improve our activity are just a few common elements that’ll make a great difference between an average caster and one who wants to go up a few notches.
to sum it up, it’s about being aware, conscious or whatever you want to call it about how you’re moving through space and time, being able to judge your ‘comfort zone’, lower and upper limits and yup, you guessed it, none of this will happen without regular practice, focussed practice, practice with a goal.
with John Waters’ kind permission, i’ll hope you’ll find it useful for your own needs.
Confidence in your ability to reproduce your best under pressure requires perfecting that technique. Training can be divided into a number of categories but I will restrict them here to two, namely technique training and competition training. Technique training should be performed at 50% to 80 % of your competition speed. You can’t learn/change technique whilst casting at full speed.
In conjunction with technique training, strength and flexibility preparation should also be undertaken. Close to the event start training under competition pressure. If you are alone in this pursuit (and we are unfortunately), you must structure your training as if you are competing. Replicate the event’s time limit to your training periods and plan each cast within that time limit. By that I mean you will usually get between 5 to 8 casts in 5 minutes. Train such that the first two casts are at 80% to 90% of your speed/power capacity and use them for a threefold purpose ie. relax your body, structure your breathing and judge your optimum trajectory in the conditions.
The 3rd and 4th casts are at max. speed and power, maintaining your relaxation regime. The 5th and later casts are at max capacity but realise that you need to increase your focus on relaxation because at this stage you may have the propensity to try too hard and technique suffers. Understand this and train to maintain your technique when the clock is ticking down to zero. There are many ways you can do this but a simple one is to train for this by setting an alarm clock to specify a time limit on a minimum number of false casts and a delivery.
If you want to perform at your best, you must maintain your technique under the pressure of competition so identify your specific coping mechanisms and structure your training accordingly. Competition-associated nerves cannot be avoided but can be channelled. Remember practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice does. In a casting competition you are only competing against yourself, because you have no control over what the other competitors achieve, so develop a competition persona and technique that focuses your complete attention exclusively upon what you are doing. The only other thing I could suggest is to compete in tournaments as often as you can.Also, I suggest you talk to as many people as possible about competition casting. I know you are concentrating on the fly events but correspond with casters in other events e.g. plug casting events because their competition techniques are far more restrictive than fly casting. You don’t have the option of another false cast to get it right there, it is all or nothing in one cast. Now that really focuses the mind on mental preparation and casting technique.