Fly Casting- Practice with a purpose

shared here with Walter Simbirski’s kind permission.

Walter is an IFFF Master Certified Casting Instructor quite active in several fly casting discussion groups and today’s wise advice is taken from one of them. intended as a helping guideline for casting certification candidates, the very same advice is invaluable for any fly angler wanting to up their game.
most reading this won’t be preparing an exam so simply replace words like: exam with whatever fishing situation you’re working on- saltwater flats, high-altitude mountain streams or simply your favourite everyday fishing spot and switch the noted distances to the distances you’ll need and you’ll see that this advice indeed fills everyone’s bill.

we’ll instantly recognise that it’s all just common sense but we fly casters/anglers tend to be an easily distracted, unorganised lot… so, a little reminder can only help. enjoy !

ed_mosser_strobe_photo casting

“We’ve talked about training rather than straining in order to avoid becoming injured. The next advice in the area of practice is learning to practice with a purpose. The goal is to make the most of your training sessions by continuing to avoid injury and to practice the things you need to practice in order to advance your skills. The things to keep in mind when practicing with a purpose are:
– Set up a plan and stick to it. If you are going to practice your accuracy casts regularly then don’t let yourself get sidetracked by beginning every lesson with distance casting.

– Concentrate on the things you need to improve, not the things you are already very good at. Each of us will be different in this respect although virtually everyone will begin with learning to control their loops. Are you able to consistently cast over 85 feet and make it look easy but can’t seem to hit a target? Then you should probably spend most of your time practicing accuracy rather than distance.

– Start every practice session with some warm up drills. Make sure you are stretched and warmed up before getting into the practice session.

– Vary your practicing and forget what the test requires. Instead of setting up targets at 30, 40 and 50 feet try setting up targets at different distances and at different angles rather than just on top of your tape. If you can consistently hit targets at any distance up to 50 feet then you will have a lot more confidence in your ability to perform this task during the test. Some of my fellows take a number of tennis balls and toss them out onto the field as their targets for their practice session.

– Don’t worry about meeting the minimum requirements of a task but concentrate on meeting the requirements with ease. You are required to cast 85 feet – is that your personal best? If so, then don’t count on adrenaline to get you across the line in the test. Continue practicing until you can hit 90 or 95 feet consistently with minimal effort and with the line landing straight.

– If one of your casts is giving you a problem then break it down into smaller parts and identify the things that are giving you problems. Fix these items and then put it all back together. You might recognize this as a form of Whole-Part-Whole. It works for your students and it works for you as well.

– Work with your mentor to identify the areas to concentrate on and what sort of practice drills might help you fix an issue.

– Set aside a time to practice each day stick to it. If you set a regular time you are more likely to stick to practicing each day. Make sure people know that this is your time for practice and that you should not be disturbed. But don’t let your schedule become too much of a habit – vary your times on occasion. If you become mentally conditioned to making your best efforts at a certain time of day you may find your test time is not optimal for you.

– Make sure you revisit the things you don’t concentrate on regularly to ensure you continue to improve or don’t backslide in those areas.

Train. Don’t strain.
Preparing for a casting certification test can be difficult because you need to practice a broad range of skills and it can be hard concentrate on one or two things. When I first began working towards becoming a certified instructor I printed out the performance test, took it to the field and worked my way through each task every time I practiced. After a couple of weeks I found that I spent about 10 minutes each session running through the parts of the test I felt mildly interested in and then spent the rest of my session trying to see if my distance cast had somehow improved from the previous day. Instead of my casting improving it became very sloppy. My loops were large and I was constantly ticking the grass. I was in no condition to attempt the test. At some point I decided that if I was going to pass the test I needed to concentrate on what was really required. Instead of spending every day trying to cast farther I concentrated on increasing the distance for which I had good loop control. If I started each session and found that I could easily handle the distance from the previous day then I added 1 or 2 feet for that session – no more than that. If I felt the loops weren’t up to my satisfaction I shortened the line until I felt I was back in control. By changing my practice methods I found that within a few weeks my casting, and my best distance, improved significantly. It takes patience but it pays off in the long run. Instead of running through the test every day you should run through it every few weeks to identify what things you need to concentrate on for the upcoming weeks. Select a limited number of items you think you can improve and stick to those.

One more tip – review your equipment regularly as well. Make sure you are getting the performance you need from the equipment you have selected and that it is kept in peak form.”

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