3 Exercises To Improve Casting
by Cole Schreiber
We often talk about practicing your cast in the driveway on the blog. And while there is nothing as valuable as time practicing on the water, many of us are not fortunate enough to be able to spend every day casting to fish, so the only way we can practice is by throwing line in the driveway or yard.
Casting a fly rod is pure muscle memory. The more comfortable you are with your cast, the easier it is going to be on the water. Quite often anglers get overly excited when they see fish. This excitement can cause a lapse in concentration and certain mechanism of proper casting to deteriorate. This is mainly because the cast is still a conscious effort and the angler must focus on doing everything correctly. If you are comfortable with your cast and it becomes natural and second nature, this won’t happen. There’s no trick to this, you need to practice your cast, like Tom Brady practices his throw. Get out there and practice, don’t just go through the motions with a rod in your hand.
Casting a fly rod is an athletic skill. And like any athletic skill, drills are a great way to improve. Here are three drills to do to improve your casting.
- Target Practice
Put some targets ( I like to use four) out on a field downwind of you ranging from 20 feet away to 60. I like to use Hula hoops, if you feel like hula hoops are two easy, try frisbees. Cast to them both forward casting and back casting. Once you have done this, move the targets to the right, so you are casting across the wind. Make your shots with your back to the wind first. Then see how many you can make facing the wind. Then put the targets directly into the wind. Keep repeating this until you have worked your way in a full circle, casting to each target both with a forward cast and a back cast.
This is one of the most effective drills you can do to become a proficient caster. It helps to practice the variety of casts you will be forced to make on a flat.
- The Moving Target
This drill requires a friend or family member to help. To start this drill, hold your fly as if you are wading or on a boat. With all your line at your feet, and 9 or so feet of fly line out of your rod tip.
Then have your helper throw a hula hoop out on the field. In three back casts or less, hit the hula hoop. If you want to go the extra mile, tie and old fly line to the hula hoop and have your friend retrieve it after they throw it. Forcing you to cast to a moving target just like on the flats. Just like the Target Practice drill, don’t forget to do this drill in harder conditions. Cast upwind and across the wind to the moving hula hoop.
- Cast with your opposite hand
If you are left handed, put the rod in your right hand. If you are right handed, put the rod in your left. This seems counterintuitive when trying to develop muscle memory but this exercise will force you to relearn the timing of your rod stroke as well as your double haul.
If you feel like just casting with your opposite hand is too easy, perhaps then you are ready start casting to targets. While you will never actually do this on the flat, unless it is to show off, casting with your opposite hand reinforces your cast with your dominant hand. This all comes back to muscle memory, if you are practicing bad habits with your dominant hand, this can break them by forcing you to relearn how to cast.