I was having a conversation with my friend Jim Solomon the other day and he made this wonderful analogy, “there are no false casts when you drive a golf ball!” I thought this was great, and he was right! A great cast requires one good backcast and one good forward cast, period. We have a cool casting exercise where we try to throw maximum amount of line with one back and one forward cast. The way to do this is to allow the proper amount of fly line (head with overhang) laid in a straight line in front of you, with rod tip down, make one pick-up and backcast/haul, and one forward/haul release. Try to shoot as much fly line as you can throw, with no tailing loops. Sound easy? This is a great exercise for distance casting. This exercise leaves you little room for error, you must deliver a solid back and forward cast with a smooth, powerful acceleration to a distinct stop or you will not be able to throw that eighty foot cast. We often rely on many false casts to mask our casting mistakes, then deliver the one to the target that feels the best. Unfortunately we do not have that luxury when fishing, especially when a fish is tailing at 60 feet and our knees are knocking and the guide is telling ya to throw. Remember driving a golfball long…learn to make a quick, long cast to a bonefish or tailing permit with no false casts, it requires practice.
Al is right on about the pick up and lay down cast, especially on the flats. Fly casting to a moving fish on the flats, especially in the wind, is combat casting but not with a machine gun. Minimizing your presentations ups the chances for a hook up. The more you false cast in the air the more chances of spooking your prey like the shadow of a bird. Think like a golfer – one shot!
Being able to pick up and quickly and softly lay down is money! And being able to change the direction of your cast is double money! Belgium casts, opposite hand casts, off shoulder casts and spey casts are in my tool box. Especially on windy days. We focus our teaching around these casts. Learn these casts and deliver your fly COD!