Reading and Viewing

Master the Cast

Master the Cast: Fly Casting in Seven Lessons (2002, McGraw-Hill)

The idea for this book came from Ben Hogan’s famous Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. I’ve never played a round of golf in my life, but I discovered the book at a friend’s house and was immediately drawn to it–particularly Anthony Ravielli’s masterful scratchboard illustrations, which did more to elucidate Hogan’s concepts than photographs could have. Hogan’s premise in the book was that virtually anyone is capable of playing really fine golf, as long as he or she builds a repeating swing, which he considered the most important thing a golfer could possess. This slim book, which Hogan originally penned as a series of articles for Sports Illustrated, has been in print continuously since it was first published in 1957.

I’m convinced all fly anglers are capable of success in the most challenging fisheries, provided they have developed a solid basic casting stroke–the most important thing a fly angler can possess. It occurred to me that fly fishing had no book equivalent to Hogan’s–so I attempted to write one. This book puts forth a curriculum that, if followed, will help you to build a solid basic casting stroke, a stroke you can depend on to present the fly to the fish consistently, whether you fish rivers, lakes or ponds, surf, open ocean, or tropical flats.

I’m a bit disappointed that some people have viewed this as a book written primarily for beginning fly anglers. Although the book assumes no previous knowledge of fly casting, I believe there’s something here for every fly caster, novice to advanced–including fly casting instructors. When I watch an exceptional fly caster at work, I don’t see wizardry; rather, I see a finely honed set of fundamentals.

This book has sold respectably, despite a lack of publicity and despite any reviews in the major magazines. To read what I thought was a fair review of the book, click here. (I’d like to think that the father and daughter who wrote the review are still fishing together.)


Saltwater Fly Casting: 10 Steps to Distance and Power (1998, White Mouse Productions)

The first part of this 90-minute video makes full use of slow-motion, stop-action, and graphics to present you with a clear analysis of the essentials of distance fly casting. The second part of the program contains ten comprehensive lessons you can use to teach yourself to cast longer and more powerfully–step by step and at your own pace. Everything from perfecting the back cast to perfecting the double haul is detailed. The last two lessons show you how to deal with wind and how to cast sinking lines and weighted flies. The disc is supplemented with a 41-page manual. This information-packed program is a valuable learning tool for all students of fly-casting, advanced as well as beginner.

The paragraph above is very close to the promotional copy I wrote for the original program, which was first produced as a VHS tape. In the 1990s there were only a handful of instructional fly casting videos available. I had seen them all, and I owned the few that I thought were the best. Still, I thought that the best videos available were simply overviews of fly casting. That is, I felt there was no program available to help you teach yourself how to cast–in particular, there was nothing to teach you how to add distance to your cast. I was convinced then–and I still am–that if you break the distance cast into its smallest possible increments beginning with the back cast, work on them one at a time, and master each increment before moving on to the next, your casting will evolve much more quickly than if your practice consists of simply trying to cast the entire fly line repeatedly.

I have difficulty watching this DVD now. All I see are the things I  would like to do differently. About the only thing I find easy to watch is myself in my mid-30s. However, over the years many people have told me that this video increased their understanding of distance fly casting and helped them add distance to their cast. If you have the attention span to follow the program as it’s laid out, I know it will do the same for you.

At this writing, I don’t sell these materials directly. I encourage you to support your local fly shop. Ask for these titles by name, and if they don’t have them in stock they can special-order them for you through their distributors. Failing that, you can always get them through Amazon.

More to come….