by Nikki Blum

At the conclusion of every Casting for Recovery retreat, fourteen sets of boots, waders, vests, rods and reels, and a handful of extra odds and ends, are all carefully accounted for, packed up and shipped down the line to the next regional outing. At the end of Northern California’s most recent event, held at Indian Creek Lodge in Douglas City, April 10-12, participant Becky H. found a note sealed protectively inside a Zip-loc ® bag, tucked in the pocket of her fishing vest. The last wearer, from Waco, Texas, had penned the following message:

Dear Breast Cancer Sister Survivor:

            I am so glad that you chose to join this group. This is the first time that I have ever been part of any type of cancer group/support group, etc. I was hoping it would be amazing and it was been OVERLY amazing and wonderful. I have met some powerful women and feel privileged to call them my ‘breast friends.’ I hope you make the same connections with your group of ladies that I have!

            Founded in 1996, Casting for Recovery (CfR) has held more than 530 retreats nationwide, serving nearly 7,000 women and recently initiated similar programs in Ireland and New Zealand.  Participants who attend do so entirely free of charge. During the course of the three-day event, besides learning how to fly fish, they also attend supportive sessions in which they share some of their fears, insights and strategies around dealing with the mental and physical ravages of cancer.

The idea for the organization was born when a reconstructive surgeon, who was also an angler, realized that the repetitive motion of casting a fly rod closely resembled a rehabilitative exercise regularly recommended to patients being treated for breast cancer. But more than the fly fishing experience, most participants — like the woman who wrote the note to the next wearer of her vest —  are rewarded with the enduring friendship of individuals who can understand better than anyone else what they are going through.

About 70 percent of all CfR retreat participants report that they have never been part of a support group, an affiliation many breast cancer survivors can’t imagine doing without.  At the Indian Creek retreat, most of the volunteers who led the sessions and organized the event were not only themselves cancer survivors, but also alumnae of previous CfR programs.

A case in point is IWFF member Sally Stoner, a Certified Casting Instructor, who has attended every retreat since her first more than a decade ago at Sorensen’s Resort in Hope Valley, South Lake Tahoe, California — less than six months after finishing treatment herself for breast cancer. For her, as for most of the volunteers, the retreat is a way to give back to a sport that has provided so many life lessons.

On Friday afternoon, when the nine staffers and 14 participants came together in Douglas City, one of the first exercises they did was to join separate pieces of fly-line into a continuous circle. Later when the weekend concluded, they circled up again, each with the knot she’d tied between herself and her adjoining fellows. Then the line was cut, in between the knots, so each could return home with a portion of the whole. Susan Dotto, retreat leader for this year’s event, has 11 knots, one for each of the retreats to which she returned as a member of the volunteer staff. One she does not have is from her first retreat because the tradition hadn’t yet taken root at the first ever held in Northern California, which Susan attended as a participant, two years after her own breast cancer diagnosis.

“At every retreat I’ve participated in as staff, I’ve witnessed the change it makes in people’s lives. The reason I come back is –not only do I love the sport of fly fishing, which I learned first as a participant — but the women who I’ve met through Casting for Recovery are amazing.  It’s all about the connection, isn’t it?” she said, adding, “Just like the knots.”

Each participant brings her own issues to the event. Alternating with casting lessons and classroom programs on knots, insects and fish-craft, are sessions in which the women discuss a wide range of subjects they find difficult or impossible to share with others who haven’t had their experience with cancer.  As one of the attendees, who’s been 20 years in remission, put it, “We all want to live long enough to have survivor’s guilt. But it’s something I just can’t talk about even with my best friends, and we’ve known each other forever.”

On the final morning of the retreat, kitted out in boots, fishing vests and waders, with rods and reels, all provided courtesy of Orvis, the women took up a spot in the river, each with her own River Helper, experienced anglers who come from all over the North State to coach their charges through their first on-the-water experience and to make sure they stay safe and dry.

Most of the River Helpers, like the rest of the staff, are repeat volunteers. One such was Greg Kennedy, a professional fishing guide with The Fly Shop in Redding, now at his fifth retreat. Other River Helpers nodded in agreement when he stood up to say that, despite spending a good part of the every fishing seasons in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East, arguably one of the best trout fisheries in the world, “This is my favorite fishing trip of the year.”

During the fish-out several of newly minted fly fishers felt the tug of a trout at the end of their lines, although none succeeded in bringing a fish to hand. Still, not a trace of disappointment clouded any of the beaming faces arrayed around the table at the celebratory luncheon that followed their time on the Trinity. These were not the same women who’d arrived here two and a half days earlier.  After the terrible trial of breast cancer, they had come together with people they didn’t know, learned the basics of a sport they’d never tried, and had an experience they didn’t expect.  And each went home convinced of something every veteran angler already knows — that actually catching a fish is really just the bonus, not the game.


by Sylvie Malo-Clark

In my part of the world, anglers start preparing for wild Atlantic salmon fishing the day after the season ends. Stories of the one caught or the one that got away are told and retold. Most importantly salmon flies especially the ones successful at catching a wild chrome are reproduced. We choose certain patterns according to the time of the fishing season, the river you will be fishing and the conditions of the water. In preparation for fishing both rivers the Miramichi and Restigouche which flow in the province of New Brunswick, Canada, I will refill each of my boxes to represent a few scenarios. For instance I will tie flies for fishing the kelt in the Spring, the fresh Atlantic salmon run from the sea for the months of June and July , August is mostly for dry flies, and for Fall fishing the time of the year when the Atlantic salmon is preoccupied with spawning. My husband and I also make a trip a year to the Grand Cascapedia which is situated on the Gaspe peninsula of Quebec, Canada, home of some of the largest Atlantic salmon in the world.

My two loyal flies for kelt fishing in the Spring are the Magog Smelt and the Renous Special all tied on Partridge of Redditch hooks size 2/0’s which seems to be a popular choice for most anglers on the Miramichi. The same patterns are also tied for the Restigouche but in the larger version 3/0’s and 4/0’s. Why large flies you may ask? In the Spring after the snow and ice have melted the water levels on most Atlantic rivers are pretty high therefore the salmon are deeper in the pools. When the water is deeper the current will be faster as well so you want your flies to reach the fish. It is better to fish with a sink-tip line with a shorter leader with heavier flies to get deep down where the kelt are.

In the early season for the first run of the wild Atlantic salmon, mid June to mid July, I make sure I have an assortment of various flies for various conditions. I will fish mostly with wet flies in sizes 4’s, 6’s and 8’s which salmon seem to prefer because the water is colder. Orange Blossom is one of my favourites and has done well on the Restigouche River in June. But the list is endless….I could name so many. For instance in July, the Undertaker, the Blue Charm, the Same Thing Murray, the Butterfly, the Silver Rat, the Rusty Rat, the Thunder and Lightning….and not to forget the Bugs in various colors including the Green Machine, Shady Lady and the Smurf. On the Grand Cascapedia last year in early July, I caught an awesome salmon with a Green Highlander. Armed with some Green Highlanders I will be back this July.

You never have enough flies! Well one day I met an older fellow, a typical Miramichier, on the shores of the Mighty Miramichi. I asked him “What are your favourite flies?” He answered : “The Black Bear Red Butt and a spare one.” He also added “Only tourist fishermen have all kind of fancy flies.” Every time I put a Black Bear Red Butt on I think of this angler. Another time, another fellow I asked the same question and his reply was “The Green Machine in size four with a white tail, and I only change it if a salmon runs away with it.” He also promptly replied that he had the same fly on for the last ten years. He also added way back when the Atlantic salmon were plentiful if you didn’t catch fifty plus salmon in your season , you would be walking in the village of Blackville with your head down. Very funny I thought but anglers took fishing, and still do, very seriously in my part of the world.

In August when the water levels are sometimes at the lowest and warmest I found dry fly fishing very effective. Salmon prefer a fly floating on the surface it seems. I will carry a box of Bombers tied in many colour variations. However for some reason the Orange and the Shrimp Bombers have been my most faithful over the years on the Miramichi and the Brown one on the Restigouche. My only explanation, not a scientific one, is that the wild Atlantic salmon seem to have a mind of their own having seen so many wet flies over their head and in front of their nose they become selective and will only take if in the mood. I have seen days myself trying almost all the flies in my boxes striking out but came home more determined than ever to be successful the next day. That’s fishin’ for you !

Fall is for many anglers their favourite fishing time. There is nothing like being surrounded with the beauty of the Fall foliage. It’s the most magnificent time of the year. The days are cooler and the Atlantic salmon seem to be more frisky. Equipped with a GPS, they make their way to the streams where they were born. What an amazing fish the Wild Atlantic salmon! Like the season, time for a change, time to take with you the Fall fly box tied with a range of Fall colours. The Ally’s Shrimp, the General Practitioner, the Clark Combination are some of my favourites.

When the fishing season is over I retire my boxes with a special note to my flies thanking them for a job well done. Angling for the wild Atlantic salmon is truly magical and is one of the most fighting game fish in the world!

The Green highlander featured in the magazine Fly Fusiion - Summer 2014Silver ratOrange blossom tied for fishing the Restigouche, NB, CanadaMagog Smelts for Spring fishingAtlantic salmon flies ready for action!


by MaryAnn Dozer

I ended my last article with the line “fly fishing is a wonderful sport as the learning curve is perpetual”. A critical and large part of that learning curve is line management. Line management is the skill that separates out the really good fly fishers from just all the other fly fishers.

What is line management? To me, it is the art of manipulating the fly line to 1) reduce the slack in your fly line from the reel to the fly; and 2) get a natural presentation of the fly. In this article I discuss line management techniques for moving water.

On moving water the goal is to get the longest natural looking drift of the fly. In other words it is about getting the longest drag free drift possibly. The longer the natural drift; the more fish will look seriously at the fly thus increasing the possibility of a fish taking the fly. And yes, we are out on the water to hook and land a fish.

How you do you know if there is drag on the fly. If the fly is making a wake you definitely have drag. More times drag is more subtle than this and you’ll see debris (leaves, foam) moving at a different pace than the fly. That pace could be slower or faster than the fly.

Now that I have your interest my small print on this article “is that there is no way an angler can effectively learn line management from reading one article”. It takes many articles, conversations, and lots of time on the water to master line management. This article just taps the surface of line management techniques by introducing a few core fundamentals. These core fundamentals are 1) Managing Slack and 2) Line Mending

Managing Slack

Why is slack line bad? The easiest answer is any slack in the fly line increases the time to set the hook on the fish. And we all know how quickly a fish can spit out the fly. Thus for an effective hook set, slack must be kept to a minimum.

There are two places where slack will occur. The first is between the reel and the stripping guide the second is between the rod tip and the fly.

Slack between the reel and strip guide

The simple solution to ward off slack is to have the fly line under the trigger finger of the casting hand (Figure 1). Having the line under the trigger finger allows you to quickly gain control on the line and to quickly pull in line – essential to keeping the right tension on the fish as you fight it. It is also a lot easier to reach and pull on the fly line when it is between your casting hand and the reel.

IWFF MA Line Mgmt Figure 1

Figure 1

IWFF MA Line Mgmt Figure 2

Figure 2

IWFF MA Line Mgmt Figure 3

Figure 3

IWFF MA Line Mgmt Figure 4

Figure 4






I just don’t understand why so many anglers have the line in their left hand but no line in their casting hand (Figure 2). This technique doesn’t allow you to quickly set the hook or keep pressure on the fish.

Another simple way to ward off slack is to only allow slack between the trigger finger and the reel and to not have any slack between the trigger finger and the stripping guide (Figure 3).

I’m seen it so many times and for a long time did it myself – a huge loop between the stripping guide and in front of the rod hand (Figure 4). Having a loop near the reel isn’t bad; however there is a correct place and an incorrect place for the loop. Between the trigger finger and stripping guide is incorrect (Figure 4).
It is correct to have a loop between the trigger finger and the reel (Figure 3). Having a loop between your trigger finger and the reel creates no slack and it allows you to quickly pull on the fly line to get the right tension on the fish.

Managing slack between the rod tip and fly

The next area where slack gets introduced is between the rod tip and fly line. This is where this topic gets difficult quickly, so be patient and read slowly. Another disclaimer – these mending techniques are applicable for dry flies. Mending nymphs is another article.

The fly drifts naturally if the fly is leading the fly line. It is not a perfect rule but you should strive to have either a straight line or arc between the rod tip and the fly. Having a horse shoe shape in the fly line or multiple curves of the fly line between the rod tip and the fly is not what you want (Figure 5). To get the “good line” shape between the rod tip and fly you will need to mend the line.

Figure 5

The easiest solution to this is to ensure the cast fully extends the fly line and doesn’t puddle up in a clump on itself. Next as you fish you will need to pull in line as the fly comes close to you and then to feed this line back out as the fly travels below you. With this fundament in hand, let me now speak to ways to manipulate the fly line to minimize the slack between the rod tip and the fly.

Line Mending – Positioning the line to fit the “current” situation

The classic mend is the mend that you do just after the fly lands on the water. This is moving your hand in a slight semi circle so the rod tip moves in a semi circle to re-position the fly line in relation to the fly and the current. The direction of the semi-circle is the direction you want to move the fly line. The size of the semi-circle determines how far you move the fly line – big circle lots of movement, little circle little movement. Key mending principles are:

  • If the current is the same between you and the fly, you can get away with a very slight up-stream mend.
  • If the current is slower between you and the fly you want to re-position the fly line down stream, as the fly will catch up with the fly line.
  • If the current is faster between you and the fly you will want to re-position the fly line upstream above the fly as the fly line will catch up with the fly.
  • If you do nothing you will get a bit of a drag free drift, but not as long as it could have been with a mend.

Anglers can become too reliant on “on the water” mends. Yes, they get you longer drag free drifts – but it comes at a risk. Anglers can over mend and then move the fly off the target line and/or splash the water with the line scaring the fish under the line and all other nearby fish upstream.

Fly lines can be mended in the air – reducing the possibility of splashing the water and moving the fly. These are called aerial mends.

IWFF MA Line Mgmt Figure 6

Figure 6

The simplest aerial mend is a reach cast left or reach cast right. This cast is executed by simply pulling your rod to the left or right and to the water surface after you have stopped the rod, but before the line hits the water. (Figure 6) The result of this is the fly will land on the water leading the fly line appropriately positioned relative to the current. The speed of the current determines which way you reach:

  • If the current is faster between you and the fly you reach upstream
  • If the current is slower between you and the fly you reach downstream

In closing I hope you gained a few ideas on how to improve your line management.  Most importantly, I hope you will place a higher priority on line management and looks for ways to learn more techniques and apply your newly learned techniques. Again line management is about manipulating the fly line to get the longest drag free drift possible. It is about keeping slack from your reel to fly at a minimum and mending the line between the rod tip and fly.


I was saddened to hear about the recent loss of a special fellow IWFF angler who I met in 2008. My first introduction to Henriette was via email since she was the first international member that I processed as IWFF membership chair.  We had some special challenges to get her signed up and we had several email conversations to get things worked out–she was delightful!  In 2009, IWFF had an Austrian Festival and I was fortunate to go and meet Henriette in person along with several other European Anglers.  She was a wonderful addition to the group and loved by all– practically adoped by the German Fly Fishing Ladies since she was the only Dutch person at the event. I kept in touch with Henriette after the festival and invited her to visit me in the San Francisco Bay area.  Sadly, she became ill and we knew that trip would not likely occur.  In her memory, I wanted to share the article that she contributed for an earlier 2010 IWFF Newsletter.   – Rebecca Blair

Memories of IWFF Women’s Week Austria and Slovenia: 10-16 May 2009

Austria brings many memories, “oopses”, much laughter, some schnapps, peeing and of course a lot of fly fishing and dreaming away in beautiful nature during the first IWFF meeting on the European continent organized by Kate Blubaugh, Goodwill Ambassador of the IWFF.


When we reach Pension Wutte in Sankt Primus we are warmly welcomed with schnapps by the owner, Milan Senior. Soon enough, outside on the terrace, in the twilight, the air fills itself with festive energy. Rebecca and Barbara came over from California, Christa and Claudia from Germany, and I myself from Amsterdam– The Netherlands, and of course Kate. We are the first female fly fishing group in his pension. The male fly fishers, who stay with Wutte the same week, need some time to understand that we are not a knitting club. Kate surprises us all with welcome gifts: a box with flies, an indicator and a magnetic tippet threader, to pilot the tippet quickly through the eye of the hook of an artificial fly.


The following day, Milan junior drives us through the mountains to show the rivers Kleine (small), Drau and Villach. We enjoy the ‘Riverrich’ woods with the sunny, yellow flowered fields and snowy mountains in the background. All around there are ‘postcards’. I intend to indulge in all of this and forget about taking pictures for a while. The Kleine Drau is in general rather narrow, sometimes quiet and then again brawl and usually we have to decent deep before reaching the river. According to photographer/writer Rudy van Duijnhoven, I call my whole family together before I react on a bite. This costs me the biggest fish of the week according to him.

Rudy and Kate give me tips now and then during the day, I practice and sometimes I sit on the side and watch how they cast and fish on this river- so beautifully and easy and they often get a take! That cannot only be luck. Of course, just when there is no photographer around during this first day, I catch a magnificent brown trout. I am on my own, so I think the fish must be 45 cm (~17.75 in).


A push in the back

Wading through a deep part, i want to reach the side via a big stone, but that is a little too optimistic. “Are you okay?” I hear behind me. “No, not really.” I then feel a hand on my back that gives me just the push I need. “That’s what friends are for”, I hear later from the girls. The Villach is a broader river, good wadable water, sometimes rippling, sometimes deep, with a small waterfall and now and then in the middle, an island made up of loose stones. A great river to dream away into, but the dream lasts only a short while as I witness a big grayling floating by on its side. A fisherman outside our group thought it was very important to take pictures extensively of his catch of the day…catching is out for me that day.


The ride with Milan senior to Slovenia takes us up and down a narrow, windy road through the mountains and we pass by Bled, a quite deluxe lakeside resort with lots of very stylish hotels, terraces, and boats in a big lake. A fairytale according to connoisseurs, a different fairytale then we are experiencing in the rivers. The Sava Bohinjka is a wide river and a very turbulent river. We are obliged to wade alongside the bank. In order not to get stuck in the trees, I have to do some roll casts over my left shoulder, easy, my backhand is also sharper by playing tennis, yet I lose two flies. Lunch this time, is not taken in the woods, but in a ‘breech’ a Slovenian eating cafe. So, no peeing between stinging-nettles and ferns which makes one jealous of men once in a while.

In the afternoon we drive further upstream where our fishing licenses are checked: fishing permits are correct and we are all fishing barbless. All of a sudden a few big trout jump out of the water while we are having fun with the inspectors. The fish are playing a game with us and challenge us to step into the water again to catch a few small sized brown and rainbow trout during the rest of the afternoon.

During every evening meal, all the “oopses” are being discussed in depth, tough stories are told and especially a lot of laughs roll over our delicious desserts.

Finally baptized

The following day I am wading the Klein Drau a bit overconfident. I do have my wading stick folded out, but let it joyfully float behind me in the water. I am being told that there are big trout swimming further down; I start walking fast over a small island ridge, but all of a sudden I slide in soft sand and before I realize it, I find myself floundering in a deep pool. Kate comes running immediately. I climb on the island, soaking wet as far down as my socks, but I happily notice that the cell phone in my backpack has only become damp. Nevertheless, it becomes good idea to purchase a waterproof backpack. “Finally baptized”, I do hear laughing. The others have also undergone a similar baptismal experience once (or twice). In order to recover, Rebecca, Kate and myself treat ourselves on cheesecake and wine, before I take a warm shower.

Everyday there is a “Spruce des Tages” (Speech of the day) on the menu of our pension. Today I read: “Besser of neuron Wegen ’twas stolpern also in alien Pfaden of der Stelle zu triton” (Better to stumble on new roads than to stay in the same place all the time on old roads)…that gives courage.

In the morning, Rebecca and Barbara take a day course with Milan junior. Christ, Claudia, Kate and I will look for the best spots in the known “house rivers”. ‘TomTom’ helps us towards the river. When I look left, a brown trout jumps out of the water on my right side, and when I look right, he or his friend jumps out at my left side. I am surrounded by jumpers, feel several bites, but they don’t have the intention to let me catch them. I try different flies, but teasing is in the fish plan today.

Then I hear my name being called: Rudy has caught a ~65 cm (26 inch) rainbow trout on a dry fly! A beauty, in perfect condition. When he holds the fish up to me, a silvery glittering meets my eyes. Rudy doesn’t let them tease him. Neither does Claudia: she lands on a dry fly, a ~50cm (20 inch) long grayling! I walk downstream, they don’t jump anymore, but I catch a beautiful brown trout. Again further down, I meet Kate and some male fly fishers. One of them complains it is too crowded in the river, he didn’t catch any fish. The other one points out how big the trout was that he just caught- about 60 cm (24 inch). To him, a small fish. To us, I would be happy with that size! He shrugs his shoulders, “Women!” and mumbles: “Happy playing in kindergarten!” What a joker.


To close this marvelous week, Kate gives us all a well thought out character sketch, feedback and a positive challenge to chew on. ON the table there are the little presents we brought from home, in turn we take one and all the presents match with the person- coincidence? Milan Wutte is kissed and thanked with wine and hugs. Many thanks go to Kate for a great initiative and a magnificent accompaniment! The other groups of fly fishermen now understand we can do more than knitting!

Ingrid of Pension Wutte gives us wisdom for our journey:

‘What was, is history;
What will be, is a secret;
What is, is a present.’

This week really was a present and already is history and bears a secret for later.

-Henriette Adama van Scheltema


by MaryAnn Dozer

When you fly cast – does the entire fly line, leader and fly fall in a straight line with no coils? Can you cast greater than 40 feet of line and have it lay out straight in front of you? Do you know: What a reach cast is? What is a wiggle cast is? What a curve cast is?

If you answered yes to all of these questions – Fantastic! If you answered no to two or more – then I’d say investing some time in your cast will increase your pleasure in fishing and increase the number of fish you hook.

If you are like me – your first and only fly casting lesson was the 15 minute session you received when you purchased the rod or your first fishing experience. Well for years – it was that one 15 minute fly casting lesson I fished with. Oh yes! For me it was flies in trees, lost flies on the back cast, cast missing a feeding fish by 5 ft or worse yet the line landing on the fish only for the fish to scurry upstream out of sight.

Now let me shift to golf for a moment. Are any of you a serious golfer or know a serious golfer? Have you ever noticed that a serious golfer will practice their swing before stepping on the course and in some cases in between golf outings? Do you take this same approach with your casting?

As a past golfer I did practice my swing before and between golf outings. Why? Well, because I knew that I needed to have the fundamental mechanics in my swing to deliver the ball to where I wanted it to land – whether that was 15 feet or 200 plus yards.

Unlike golf, where on primetime TV someone is analyzing the golfers swing, we don’t see that happening on TV for fly fishers. On TV we see golfers win big money because they put together a string of perfect swings. We don’t see that for fly fishers. We just really don’t have a mechanism to know what a good cast looks like or feels like. I would venture to say if fly fishing received as much TV time as golf, we all would be out there practicing our fly cast.

When I started fly fishing why didn’t I take this same approach? Probably because:

In 2002 I volunteered at a Casting for Recovery Event in Washington. At that event I watched Marilyn Vitale and Liz Watson teach fly casting to the CFR participants. Both of them are Federation of Fly Fishers Master Casting Instructor. My chin hit the ground – I was amazed with the grace and ease these two lady fly casters could make the fly line form a loop and the fly line, leader and fly land straight in front of them. I was amazed that there were fundamental mechanics all casters should be doing. In that one hour I quickly learned there was a lot to more do with casting than what my husband or the local fly shop owner shared with me. I don’t think it was that they neglected to tell me. I think it was “they just didn’t know themselves”.

I can now tell you that after many hours of practice, coaching, and reading, that that I know what a good cast is and where the fly is supposed to be – I can honestly say that casting mechanics are just as important as golf swing mechanics.


The basic mechanics of a good cast

So how do you tell if it is a good cast? The ultimate test is does the fly land where you want it to and is the fly line where you want it? A good cast is one where the loop size is about 2 to 3 feet and is shaped like a sideways V or a sideways U. This clearly is the results of a well executed cast. Yes, this is the equivalent of the golfer hitting the ball down the centre of the fairway.

What are the key fundamental mechanics of any cast? Do you do any of these?

1. Start the fly cast with the rod tip low to the water to minimize slack – lose line.

2. Use the full arm in your cast, keep a firm wrist, and stop at the appropriate point to ensure the rod tip travels in a straight line path. The place to stop is a function of the amount of line past your rod tip.

3. Have a pause long enough for the line to unroll before the next cast is made.

4. Starting the cast from a dead stop and smoothly speeding up to a quick abrupt stop.

What are some common errors that get in the way? Do you do any of these?

  • I didn’t know what a good cast versus bad cast was? I had no way to measure the quality of my cast. Yeah, I knew some casts looked better and felt better – but I didn’t know what it was that I was doing to make the difference. I just assumed luck. In reality, back then a good cast was shear luck for me!
  • I just didn’t realize that in fly fishing I needed to have fundamental mechanics in my cast to deliver the fly to where I wanted it – just like that golf swing I used to have.
  • I didn’t realize there were different casts to make dependent on the fishing situation.

1. Starting with the rod tip at our eye level above the water versus at the water level.

2. Casting with only our wrist and or forearm and keeping the upper arm stationary. Flipping of the wrist is great for those casting a hardware rod – for fly fishing the firmer the wrist the straighter the rod tip path — the tighter the loop—the straighter the line and fly lands in front of you

3. Not pausing for the line to unroll before you make you next cast. This results in the line being whipped around – just like a lion tamer would work a whip. Do you cast or whip your rod?

Unfortunately working on your cast is not a one time visit to the casting doctor. Rather like golf it is multiple visits to a casting range – whether that is your yard or the local pond. Why does it take time? Because our body predominantly works from muscle memory, so when we put that rod in our hand – our arm remembers how we used to always cast –versus how we just learned to do it. Muscle memory is erased and re-learned with practice.


Improving your cast

So how do you go about improving your cast?

  1. Make a commitment to do so? Be ready to cast 15 to 30 minutes 1 to 3 times a week for one to two months.
  2. Pay for a casting lesson from a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor. They have proven through a rigorous certification process that they do know how to cast and do know what they are talking about.
  3. Buy a DVD and watch it multiple times. My two favourites are: Joan Wulff’s Fly Casting Dynamics and Mel Krieger’s The Essence of Fly Casting. I do suggest buying both DVDs as both Joan and Mel teach the basic casting mechanics with different styles.

     4. Get to a fly fishing show or multiple shows and watch the demonstration casters – all of them.

I talked about what a good cast looks like and what the mechanics are? Let me close with a definition of a good caster:

A good caster is: Someone who knows where the tip of the rod is at all times during the cast and knows how to manipulate the rod tip to send the fly in the direction they want it to go.

Mary Ann Dozer
Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor

T r a n s l a t e