Like many instructors, I see “control” as the key word in fly casting. In 1951, Joan Wulff outcast everybody at the U.S. national Fisherman’s Distance Fly Contest. Joan is not an exceptionally strong person, so how did she do it? Control—or more specifically, control of her skills. In John and Richard Alden Knight’s 1963 book, The Complete Book of Fly Casting, there is a sequence of six photos showing Joan casting a tournament rod and line. Facing a wind pushing 20 knots, she fired off a measured 128-foot cast. That came from skill control.
Relaxing is an important element of control, too. A comment that one often hears about well-honed athletes is that they “make it look so easy.” Relaxation is part of that easiness. Casters who have their foundation skills firmly planted often find themselves “allowing it to happen.” The late Charles Ritz felt that relaxation was a key (he actually wrote “secret”) to fly casting. He even included a section in The Wise Fisherman’s Encyclopedia (1951) entitled “The Art of Relaxation.” If you relax, concentration can lead to sensation—a tactile awareness that connects hand, rod and line. If things are not progressing in your casting, stop, relax and get your mind-set straight:
It is your arm (plus hand) that directs the rod that directs the line that directs the fly. That is the “casting chain of command.”