Story last updated at 1/28/2009 - 1:14 pm
Nothing in recreational sport fishing is more poetic in form than a perfectly executed fly cast. Whether it's a simple overhead cast with a single-handed fly rod, or a challenging 120-foot single-spiral spey cast using a traditional, 15-foot double-handed spey rod, fly-casting is not only graceful, but also a refreshing departure from other means of recreational sport fishing.
As a national fly-casting instructor and industry professional, I'm continually asked by people what can they do to improve their fly-casting. My answer over the years has not changed. I always preach "practice."
There is no questioning that practice reinforces the necessary mechanics needed to execute graceful and consistent casting loops. Much like practicing your golf swing in order to achieve a great game in golf, practicing your fly-cast is the secret to great fly-fishing. Difficulties or inconsistencies in both will clearly dampen your day on the green or on the water.
During the winter months in Southeast Alaska, one prominent obstacle that we outdoor enthusiasts face is our challenging winter weather conditions.
I admit when rivers are frozen, and rain and snow blow sideways while fingers burn and glow pink from the cold, it's difficult to consider anything other than a hot drink or maybe some playoff football let along a few hours casting on a watershed void of fish and other casters.
Furthermore, one of the greatest challenges of learning to fly cast (as well as to practice) is the issue of finding room. Learning to form and practice a proper cast usually requires significant space above, behind and in front of you. Additionally, learning to single-hand spey cast or roll cast is downright difficult in the absence of water.
Fortunately, there are solutions and answers to these casting obstacles.
One of these solutions is the Echo Micro Practice Rod designed by a long-time personal friend and International fly-casting champion, Tim Rajeff. I strongly recommend these Micro Practice Rods to anyone wishing to perfect and refine their fly-casting.
Tim has taken the mini rod and yarn concept introduced by Joan Wulff to another level, one that more truly reflects the balance between fly rod and fly line. The Echo Micro Practice Rod is a miniature four foot, two-piece rod with a highly visible line and a colored yarn leader that also adds additional weight and taper to the line.
The rod's unique design and components are perfectly balanced with the line and leader so that together they force you to exaggerate the proper motions and mechanics required to form and execute a good cast.
Similarly, when used on a carpeted surface like in your living room or hallway, you can practice roll casts and single-hand spey casts. Because the Micro Practice Rod acts and feels just like a standard fly rod, transitioning from the practice rod to a real rod is simple.
And if that's not enough, all this can be done from the comfort of your couch!
So now there should be no excuses come spring time when the first Dolly Varden begin their annual spring drop out migration.
I look forward to seeing elegant and graceful fly-casts on the water this spring, a true testament to the phrase, "practice makes perfect."
Good luck, and tight loops!