The Key to Good Fly Casting: Practice!

by Bruce Richards

fly casting can be very easy and it can be extremely complex, it’s all a matter of how far we want to take it. you can be an expert in history without ever having made history but you can’t cast a fly line with just theory.
whatever level we want to achieve won’t happen without a certain learning curve and without practice. Bruce gives us some very solid advice and ideas that make perfect sense. i hope you’ll both enjoy and benefit from this master’s experience and wisdom.

“A lot has been written about how to cast effectively. I’ve taught over 3000 people to cast. The one single most important factor in successfully learning to cast, or improving your casting is practice. A lot of my students spend good money and time to take lessons, but if they don’t practice what they have learned it will be lost. Developing good practice habits is often the key to becoming a good caster.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to practice, but practicing fairly often is important. To make a bad analogy, practicing casting is a lot like training a puppy. The best way to train a puppy is in frequent short sessions, not all day once a month, the same goes for casting. Every day is best, but 3-4 times a week is certainly adequate. I have found the best practice sessions are usually 15-20 minutes long, for me in the evening after work. I like to leave a rod rigged and ready in the garage that I can quickly grab and head to the back yard. Having water isn’t necessary for a good practice session, except for roll casting. If you want to practice roll casting on the grass all you need to do is secure the end of the leader to something, to simulate the resistance of water. I like to use a clipboard, just clip the end of the  leader in the spring clip and you are ready to cast.

Of course it is important to practice the right things. If you are having trouble correcting problems or improving your casting you need to reference a good book or video, or better yet, a good instructor. Books and videos can be very helpful but don’t provide the feedback a qualified casting instructor can.

I think it is very important to practice to a target. Too many casters practice by just throwing loops at the same distance without paying much attention to their delivery. Being able to hit a target is often pretty important when fishing. A technique I have used very successfully when practicing follows. This drill works very well when practicing for demanding casting tasks like fishing for bonefish or tarpon.

Determine a good place to stand in the middle of a good sized open area. Scatter 6-8 targets (I use paper plates) around at various distances appropriate to the kind of fishing you do, and in different directions. Stand in the center of the targets and make a cast to the one in front of you. Strip the line in short, turn your body one way or the other and make your next cast at the target you see first. Try to make each cast with no more than 3-4 false casts. Repeat this process until you’ve made several casts at each target.

This drill will teach you to quickly work out line, judge distance and make good deliveries. If you find that you are unable to consistently come close to the targets, that usually indicates a problem with your loops, time to consult your book, video, or instructor !”

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5 thoughts on “The Key to Good Fly Casting: Practice!

  1. Alright Marc I have a question. I am a self taught caster (with Joan Wulff DVD as only ever instruction “powersnap”). I’d be very interested in good instruction. I am a faithful follower/reader of the Limp Cobra and wonder if you have any casting instructors you could recommend in the Philadelphia, PA USA area. Of course recommendations from your readers would be welcome also. I mainly, 90%, fish small streams.

    • hi Faithful Jay !
      great to hear. at first glance, the FFF site
      gives no results for your area but then, their website has always been shoddy at best… on that link you’ll find both email and phone contacts. givem’ a call, their database should be up to date.

      i don’t personally know any instructors in that area, however i’ll try to get some info from colleagues and let you know.

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