Written by: Kip Vieth, Wildwood Float Trips
A year has ended and a new one begins. Like most people, I look back and reflect on what the previous year has taught me or what insights I might have gleaned from all my time guiding. I am always wondering how to do it better or give my clients a more rewarding experience. Recently, the tables were turned on me a bit. One of my longtime clients asked what they could do to make the coming season more productive and enjoyable.
We’ve all read the articles and stories on how to improve your fishing, and perhaps they all seem to really be saying the same things rehashed in a different way. I was looking at some past publications and thinking about the question posed to me. One thing jumped out at me. The answer wasn’t learn to mend, fly selection, knots, or even equipment that could improve your fishing this year. Even though all those things certainly can make you a better angler. It really comes down to one thing that everyone, no matter what their skill level, can improve on. It’s very simple: Learn to Cast Better!
You have probably heard it a hundred times: “They can’t eat it if they can’t see it.” Being able to get the fly in front of the fish is step one. If you’re not getting the job done, then your fishing is really going to suffer. Every year I see it over and over. I guide out of a driftboat 99.9% of the time, and a boat is only as good as its worst caster. If I have to get the boat positioned so that the client has to be right on top of the fish, then it is going to cost the boat a lot of fish throughout the day. In the heat of the summer, when the water is clear and the fish get spooky, it is imperative that an angler can cast away from the boat. Even smallmouths can get jumpy and the fishing can get more technical than most anglers would think. Being able to cast can be the difference between a good or bad day.
Yes, there are many other things that can make or break your day on the water, but if you really step back and think about it, the cast is the most important factor in your success. Even if you have fly-fished for decades, there is still a cast to learn or perfect. That is what makes this sport so special. There is always something to learn or improve on. Heck, I fish very little these days just because I’m guiding so much. (Be careful of what you wish for!) My casting has suffered, and I sometime feel embarrassed when fishing with other accomplished casters.
I have no one to blame but myself. I could certainly use the practice and perhaps a lesson or two. Even the greatest golfers in the world have swing coaches. A lesson in anything is never a bad thing. There are also a ton of videos that are available to watch and learn from. Orvis fly casting instructor Peter Kutzer has a number of them, and they are outstanding. (See the full list below.)
Do yourself a favor this year and commit to becoming a better caster. It will make the sport more enjoyable, you’ll most likely catch more fish, and it will keep you engaged in a sport where you never stop learning.
Peter Kutzer’s casting lessons