Practice makes proficient (there’s no such thing as perfect), but practice without purpose is a long road to improvement. Fly casting is no exception.
As most anglers can attest, beautiful casting does not always translate to effective fishing. Therefore, if catching fish is your primary objective (which we have a feeling it might be), tailoring your practice time to simulate situations you’re likely to encounter while actually fishing is imperative to being successful on the water.
With that in mind, today we present you with three ways to maximize your practice time to become not just a better caster, but a more effective angler in the process.
- Practice Casting from Your Knees. The extent of most angler’s casting practice occurs on flat ground; a park, a golf course, a beach, a dock, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact we highly recommend practicing your cast without the distraction of a fish present. However, those who have spent a considerable amount of time practicing on the lawn often find they have difficulty casting while fishing on foot.. Why? Because they don’t take into account the height lost while wading in the water! To remedy this, practicing your cast while kneeling on the ground is a great drill for keeping your fly line up off the water, even while wading in relatively deep water. Plan on wading really deep? Try casting while sitting flat on your butt.
- Practice with an Appropriate Fly. While casting with a virtually weightless piece of yarn feels really good, its often not realistic. When practicing for an upcoming trip, we highly recommend practicing with a fly that’s roughly the same size and weight of what you’ll be fishing (with the hook bend cut off, please). In fact, we’ve gone so far as to tie high-vis versions of our favorite bonefish flies (again, with the hook bend cut off) to use solely as practice flies. Not only does practicing with an appropriate fly beforehand help to get a feel for the energy needed to form efficient loops and make successful presentations, it also helps build awareness of where your fly is in relation to the end of your fly line for more accurate casts as well.
- Practice Casting Across Different Planes. We often get asked whether we prefer to cast overhead or sidearm when fishing for bonefish. Our answer? Whichever is needed to get the fly to the fish. Great casters don’t limit themselves to one particular casting plane, but rather adjust accordingly to deliver the best presentation possible in the given conditions. There are advantages and disadvantages to casting overhead, sidearm, and even off of your opposite shoulder, and the more planes you are comfortable with, the more opportunities you’ll have. Dedicate time to practice casting across each of them!