Practical Casts – Video

by Fly Fisherman

It was on a gorgeous day 30 years ago that i first recognized what a crappy fly caster I was. I had angled trout streams in New York and Maryland and Pennsylvania since I was a small fry. I knew most of the bass waters of those states, too, and I’d taken in a reasonable share of fish. So, like any 20-year-old, I thought I was plenty good.
Then I went bass fishing with Joe of Baltimore. Joe was the first man to tie a fly for shad, he was among the first to take striped bass on flies, and he was a trailblazer in fly fishing for brackish-water largemouth bass*. Those last were what we were after on this particular day. We were on Frog Mortar, a tributary of Chesapeake Bay.
“Big bass lie below those duck blind framings,” Joe said. “You have to cast the popper right beside the blind, and then work it nice and easy.”

He took his turn first, Following his instructions, I held the skiff out about 7o feet from the blind, so I thought he must be going to cast to some other spot first. But after a couple of false casts he heaved that big, wind-resistant bug out 70 feet and dropped it right against the blind. My eyes rolled back in my head but I finally got them focused and saw Toni give the bug a pop, then let it sit still a few seconds —and water flew a foot high as a five-pound black bass socked that cork-bodied foolet.
“Nice, eh?” said Joe as he put the fish on a stringer. “Nice is right,” I said. “Gee, what a cast!”
Joe took a lunker bass from each of the next three blinds. Then it was my turn.
“We’re too far out,” I protested, as he held the boat 6o feet away from my target.
“They’ll see us if we go any closer,” he said. “Try it from here.”
I never got the big bug close, and in the end Joe had to bring us in to 35 feet. I finished up with a couple of puny ioinchers—and resolved to learn to cast a fly the way Joe could.
I soon found that you have to work at it, as in any other sport. But you don’t have to wait until you are over water to practice. You can practice in a gymnasium, or on a lawn, or even on the street. Practice may not make perfect but it goes a long way toward perfection and the enjoyment of a well-executed delivery, plus the undoubted dividend of more and bigger fish when you do get on the water, will well repay the time spent on it.

In all likelihood the best practice outfit is an 8-foot rod and an HDH fly line. This rod and line will be light enough for lots of practice and will have the fineness essential for making good casts. Once adept with such an outfit, an angler should be able to cast with any fly rod and matching line. And that outfit will almost certainly prove useful in later fishing for practically any trout or pan fish likely to be encountered, up to and including those the angler may go for with light bucktails and streamers.
Once the potential fly caster has his outfit, the next step is to pick up the rod. As in golf, there are fans of vario plain and fancy grips and most novices have been made skittish by all the talk that when they first pick up a rod they try to squeeze the cork right off the grip. Naturally, you can’t get a smooth delivery with your muscles bunched into knots.

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