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Learning, Practicing and Celebrating Outdoor Recreation

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Great Podcast Episode to Improve Your Fly Casting

posted June 1, 2021

Payette River Middle Fork

As I continue to seek out resources to utilize in the pursuit of improving my fly casting, I came across one I thought would be worthwhile to discuss here: an April 2021 episode of The Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast titled Seven Deadly Sins of Fly Casting, with Josh Nugent

In an effort to get ahead of beginner short-comings, whenever I am practicing a new skill or entering a new discipline with little-to-no prior experience or knowledge to reference, I try to go out of the way as early as possible to develop some awareness of the mistakes most commonly made by amateurs in that discipline according to more experienced and knowledgeable individuals (the hope being I might avoid those mistakes myself). Because a central theme of this blog pertains to sharing interesting, useful and exciting discoveries made in my process of learning and practicing, and also because I am incredibly indecisive and timid when it comes to making decisions with any measurable risk involved, it will probably be a recurring theme to point out how disorienting and mentally-labor-intensive it can be to sift through all the resources and advice from purported 'experts' directed at amateurs and new-comers. Across all outdoor recreation, whether the topic be fly selection, meat preparation, bullet selection or casting technique, it can be difficult to differentiate between genuinely proficient guidance and ideologically charged but objectively lacking claims from anonymous internet intellectuals.

With the above in mind, I was pleased scanning through Spotify one morning a few weeks ago to see an Orivs Fly Fishing Podcast episode had released with the title, "The 7 Deadly Sins of Fly Casting". In the episode, host Tom Rossenbauer (who's book The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide I am still working to finish, and who's other book Prospecting for Trout I have been recommended to read afterwards) interviews a gentleman named Josh Nugent of Out Fly Fishing Outfitters. As the title suggests, over the course of the episode the two discuss 7 focus points by which to improve one's fly casting ability.

Some readers may have seen the "by an amateur, for amateurs" list I am cultivating of focal points we can rely on to improve our basic overhead fly casting. I was hoping in the course of this podcast episode I would pick up some additional points for this list, and as expected from the content of this host, I picked up a very interesting point.

Specifically, point 7 was a major insight for me, something I do not remembering having ever heard before or read about even in non-fly fishing contexts. I want to encourage readers to listen to this episode for themselves so I won't go into too much detail, but essentially the point is: for any "accuracy-event", such as attempting to manipulate a fly rod to deliver a fly to a specific location on the water, there is a critical moment before the final phase of movement involved in the event where the target must be visually identified in order for the target to be hit. Both prior to and past this moment, the object of visual focus becomes irrelevant to accuracy. Nugent claims when fly casting is analyzed as the accuracy-event, this critical point occurs just before the beginning of the final down-cast which delivers the fly.

Now with the knowledge there is a critical point in the duration of a fly cast where visual focal point of the angler determines where the fly will land (assuming all else sufficient in terms of mechanics), if I have determined I am hitting all the basic anchor points adequately but my fly is still not landing where I think it should, I will work on paying attention to the process of visually identifying the target at this critical point.

Josh Nugent discusses applications of this concept to other projectile-hand-body coordinating activities ("accuracy events") like basket ball, and I would have to think it applies in some way to archery and firearm marksmanship as well (listening back, he actually mentions this during the episode). All in all, very interesting and something that will likely have a measurable impact on my fly casting practice. I strongly encourage readers to give this one a listen, and also to check out the other excellent fly fishing content distributed through the Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center. Thanks all!