One of the most important aspects in fly casting practise is to have fun. It’s a game. We learn by playing games. There is a video called Freestyle Flycasting which I uploaded to YouTube some years back and I always find it interesting when people comment “you won’t catch any fish doing that”! Which is true and I mention that I might catch bats. I’ve never taken myself all that seriously and I think life is a game. We are here to have fun and playing is what life is all about - that’s why I go fishing all the time!
So it’s very important to have fun when you practise. But that doesn’t mean that your sessions can’t be structured. Having structure will enable you to progress far quicker.
There are four disciplines in fly casting; distance, accuracy, presentation casts and Spey casting. Ideally you probably want to divide your time equally between these four. And over time you probably will. I don’t; I get interested in one and just work on that sometimes for months. At which point I hit a wall. And the way to get through that wall is to change discipline and work on one of the others. Next time you come back to the original discipline you will be less proficient but very quickly pass the wall and take your skills to a higher level.
Each of these four disciplines requires different training. For accuracy you simply cannot beat targets. Best on water but grass will work fine too. Set the course up like the Fly Casting World Championships (https://www.icsf-castingsport.com/uploads/Flycasting_Competitionrules.pdf ) and keep your score. Then you will actually be able to measure your improvements. Remember: the target in front is not the only one; there is also an unseen target in the air behind you. You can watch a video on this disciple here: https://www.sexyloops.com/flycast/accuracy/
Distance is about a number of things. Hauling, line carry, force application, tracking, body weight shift and so on. You will need a tape measure and a video camera. You need these because they don’t lie and you will again be able to measure your improvements.
Presentation casts is a game. You need targets. You want to set up a course for every cast. It’s no good being able to make an overpowered curve unless you can control the curve and the accuracy. So always practise to a target. And vary the distance. Always vary the distance because these are skills you need.
Spey casting is about anchor placement and alignment, timing and force application. You need to be able to do them all; Double Spey, Single Spey, Snake Roll, Snap T and Circle Spey - off both shoulders and for angle changes of both 45 and 90 degrees. That’s a lot of work. In fact spending three months just working on anchors would not be time wasted. Truth is it will take a lot longer! Best is water for sure and even better is targets. You can make this interesting too, and combine presentation casts with Speys. They all work and can be very necessary when fishing.
The aerielised funk stuff in the video above actually came from practising fly casting at night with the lumiline. I would certainly recommend purchasing one of these. Casting at night, to a bit of Pink Floyd, with a beer or some seal’s fur is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Believe me, a lot of skills are learned in the “green zone”.
Many people take instructor exams to set themselves targets. And that’s fair enough - personally I think they are best used for teaching and not personal goals but that’s another subject. What we do have here at Sexyloops is a tough but very achievable casting level challenge. The Essential Level is a very competent fishing casting level - similarish to Casting Instructor level but more fishing orientated and slightly more challenging. I am working on three more levels... Advanced, Elite and Jedi.
Finally, if you really want to be the best flycaster that you can ever be, then you need to compete. There are lots of flycasting clubs around the world practising casting sport. You may not be so lucky to have one locally, but you could always set one up of your own and of course share your results on the Board.
Buying a Sexyloops rod will instantly transform your casting too but you still need to practise, even with the Hot Torpedo!
PS all casts can be found in the Sexyloops Video Manual https://www.sexyloops.com/flycast/introduction/