Fly Fishing Traditions

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Teaching and Learning To Fly Cast

How do we teach someone to cast a fly. How do we learn to cast a fly? That’s not a simple question.

I’ve been doing fly fishing techniques clinics, educational guiding as well as doing fly casting workshops. At the casting workshops it seems like there is always one person attending a workshop who asks questions like, "How long should I pause?” or “How long should my stroke be? " It seems they are asking for an absolute answer. The answer should be it's not an absolute because it depends on how much line you are carrying. You really need to watch each student cast and determine the best course of action. Should we go back to the beginning and build the cast from the beginning. In a lot of cases the answer is yes. You need to start with good form.

Most casting flaws tie to the lack of basic good form and bio-mechanics. In most cases there just isn’t one definite answer to solve a problem. In fly casting many factors dictate the end result. A fly casting instructor must be able to identify problems with the form and mechanics of the cast and explain how to solve them. This isn't easy.

Fly Casting instructors’ perspectives are very similar to golf instructors. A golf instructor will often say to a student, "We've got to rebuild your stroke from the beginning."  With fly casting it's often the same, we need to rebuild the mechanics of the stoke.

In golf, most of the “how to” information comes from pros who unquestionably play well.  However these pros seldom agree on such basics as grip, stance, and ball position.Our fly fishing world is very similar.  Professional fly casting instructors have different styles and forms but they all seem to have a teaching method to get the job done. Their end results are almost exactly the same, but their routes to getting there may have differences. They all teach solid bio mechanics.

Obviously most professional fly fishing instructors, however convoluted their path to becoming a teacher, have gained a lot of experience and have had lots of successes, first with fishing and then in teaching. The doing, fishing, came first.

In relation to us non professional fly casting teachers, I’m certain that the majority first learned to cast a fly and to fish, and then later attempted to analyze and communicate their acquired skills. That’s my path for sure. I learned to fly cast and catch fish. A do it yourself, bang away at it kind of thing. Over time I sort of figured it out by doing not by analysis of good form. Things are changing!

In retrospect, I think that one of the most beneficial things someone could do, fly casting instructors and students alike, is to study good fly casting form and understand the bio mechanics of what constitutes good form. Learn the essentials required to execute a good cast and then practice these essentials. Having an instructor that can communicate these essentials in a way that makes them understandable can make all the difference. As fly casting instructors we need to work on being good communicators. As students we must become good listeners. We both should study the FFF's recommended "Five Essentials to a Good Cast". That will assure that we get started down the right road.

So in summary, become a student of the sport, seek knowledge, learn what constitutes good form and make it your own. As an instructor inspire your students to new heights.

Good Luck and Tight Loops.

By the way, here's a link to the "5 Essentials"

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.