Monday, January 11, 2010

Quick fix/casting tip #4 - Accuracy and effective practice

This casting tip/fix is related to accuracy and making your practice sessions more effective. 

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know that I spent a lot of time in my Nucanoe fishing for carp last year.  Accuracy is crucial with this kind of fishing. To have a real shot at catching carp consistently, you must be able to put the fly within a few inches of a carp’s nose on every cast. 

So over the past few months I’ve been putting more hours in on the practice field to really get the accuracy dialed in.  For this I typically throw a target or two out in the yard and make casts to them anywhere from 20 to 70 feet. My targets are rarely larger than a Frisbee and sometimes as small as a CD.  As might be expected, my casting accuracy improved considerably. At least as far as casting to targets in a yard.  Strangely, my casts to carp when actually on the water only saw a modest improvement. Needless to say, this irritated me to no end.  I could hit a CD at 40 feet in my yard 10 out of 10 times but couldn’t hit the target zone of a tailing carp with that kind of consistency. The practice wasn’t translating. Weird.

I’m a bit dense, so it took me awhile to figure it out.  It boiled down to this - I wasn’t simulating actual fishing conditions during my practice. When carp fishing, I’m sitting low in the water in my boat, virtually on the same level as the fish. In my practice sessions though, I was standing up and casting to a target on the ground. Rather than being level with my target as I am when actually fishing, I was standing well above my target in the practice sessions. What a doofus.

This makes a big difference. First, the perception of the target is different. I find that distance is more difficult to judge when I am in the sitting position and closer to the level of the target. Also, there are a couple of casting adjustments that need to be made. For example, you will have to flatten out the horizontal casting plane when you are sitting at target level. And hauling while in sitting down in a kayak is much different than hauling while standing up. Rather than work these things out while on the water and waste valuable fishing time, it’s a good idea to practice them beforehand.

So I now spend quite a bit of time casting while sitting on the ground or on a small box. I expect big dividends once warm weather arrives and the carpin’ flats fill up with golden fatties.

Bottom line is this – casting practice is great. But to get the most out of it, your practice needs to simulate actual fishing conditions. If you’re going to be casting from a platform on a boat, then you probably should be standing on something during your practice sessions to mimic this. If you’ll be fishing from a yak or a canoe, spend some time casting while sitting on the ground. If you’re planning a trip to the salt where the wind blows constantly, get out there and practice every windy day that you can. If you fish small mountain streams, go walk around in a patch of woods and cast to different targets. No better way to teach yourself to stick a backcast through a keyhole in the trees than to practice in a forest.

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