Ten Fly Fishing Tips for a new fly caster
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Text: Chris O’Byrne,FFF Certified Fly Fishing Casting Instructor
Photos: Cameron O’Byrne
Now that you’ve started fly fishing, let’s stop and think about a few things you can do to develop that all important skill, fly casting. The following will introduce points I make when working with novice fly fishers.
FIND YOUR TRAINING GROUND Rocky had his beef refrigerator. The Karate Kid had a stump in the Pacific Ocean. You need to find your practice place too!
Very soon you will be carrying thirty feet of line and shooting ten or twenty feet more. You need a patch of ground with that much area, being a fly fisher you also need that much space behind you. Look for a ball field or maybe the corner of a park where you will go several times a week. If there are other people around, all the better. They will stop and watch the beautiful movements of the fly line which intrigued you. And me. And all of us. Maybe you can lead them to fly fishing as well.
YA’LL KEEP ‘EM SRAIGHT! When you practice be conscientious in executing the basics, including straightening the fly line before your back cast. A good instructor will have pointed out how your cast suffered when you began a back cast with line laying on the ground in curls and waves or line dangling from a rod tip held off the ground. The caster who practices with this slack in the line will develop bad habits.
Before you begin each practice cast, step backward, holding the rod tip next to the ground, until the line is pulled taught. PUT THE ROD TIP LOW and begin your back cast.
WATCH YOUR BACK (CAST) There are many reasons I tell my students to turn their head and watch the line unroll in the air behind them after they’ve stopped their back cast. These reasons involve the need to start the forward cast only after the line has straightened.
How do you know when your line is straight? Watch it! Also... now is a good time to invest in quality sunglasses. Wearing them while you practice will help you watch the line when the sun is bright. And they provide a little eye protection.
PREPARE FOR THE WIND When you get that once in a life time shot at a Tarpon or when you are on a wide western river or when you come fishing with us, on one of central Florida’s lakes, the wind will be present. There are plenty of ways to deal with wind blowing your fly line around, but you need to practice.
When the wind blows, go to your training ground and make casts, facing different directions so that the wind attacks your loops from all angles.
TAKE DEAD AIM When you are enjoying your fly fishing adventures, you might need to drop an EP Mantis Shrimp fly inches from the nose of a rooting Bonefish or bounce a Hare’s Ear Nymph against a small boulder, or land a Pee Wee Pop on that Lilly Pad. Many fly fishing situations demand accurate casting.
You can prepare for these necessities by occasionally picking a target and casting to it. Once you practice casting to specific targets...
USE YOUR IMAGINATION Fly casting education is, by necessity, rather focused; we need to communicate the fundamentals and provide an opportunity for the students to succeed. When you are practicing on your own, you must perform these fundamentals properly, but in the end, we fish for fun.
Try moving the fly line like and Olympic ribbon twirler. Cast to targets on a wall. Cast high. Cast low. Cast to that great big fish right over there! Every time you make the line do what you want it to, you are developing casting skill. Have fun with it.
RELAX If you have come this far, you know the movements to make and you have made several very good casts. You know what you’re doing so relax.
Try to make several false casts with less and less tension in your rod hand. The grip is not a snake! The grip is a baby bird.
NO BACKCAST, NO FORWARD CAST Before you can make a next step in your casting and fishing, you should be able to; lay thirty feet of line in front of you, make a back cast and shoot an additional ten feet.
Practice making only your back cast, allowing the line land behind you. It should be completely laid out and pointing directly away from the starting point
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP The tips in this article are universal, they can’t be suited to your casting stroke or your physical abilities or your fishing plans. You will be well served by working with a casting instructor or taking a trip with a fly fishing guide every so often.
We can see things which the caster cannot see and we can decide what fault should be fixed, when. In a trip with a fly fishing guide you will learn about casting and catching, your quarry and much more.
DO US ALL A FAVOR, TAKE SOMEONE FISHING You’ve got the bug, or you wouldn’t be reading. What is that got you started? What do you want to accomplish? What keeps you fly fishing? Don’t hog all the fun. Invite someone along with you.
JUST DO IT Bluegill and Largemouth Bass are great quarry, and in order to fly fish in fresh water you only need to get out about twenty five feet of line. You are ready to go fly fishing!
Pride beams on the face of the person in the mirror sporting the new fishing clothes. Enthusiasm fills the room, where the new fly rod is assembled then flicked back and forth, just so. You are a new fly fisher, congratulations! We know exactly how you feel because we dream about big fish all day long too.
Looking for a place to fly fish from shore? Check out this map!
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