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Flycasting and visualisation techniques.

Hi Paul,

Have you ever used a psychological training technique called visualisation? I use it a lot in my training, and was wondering if it could be applied to flycasting. (Mark is a Karate instructor - Paul)

The idea is that if you sit quietly for half an hour each day, close your eyes and visualise yourself doing a tricky technique perfectly, then your technique will improve. I use it a lot for Karate, and it does work. What got me thinking about the flycasting is this: Some people who use the technique for weapons training (let's say a wooden staff, for instance) say that they visualise the body movements they have to make, and when they train the staff naturally follows the correct path. Others say they visualise the path of the staff, and their body automatically makes the correct movements when they train. Personally I visualise both - one is no good without the other, after all.

Mark Whittaker

Paul's thoughts

Hi Mark,

The answer is; personally yes, for actual instruction no.

I *always* visualise my cast immediately before casting to a stalked fish. I find that if I first see the cast in my mind and see the fly landing in a precise spot, then the cast does exactly the same. I also spend lots of time visualising my casting before a demonstration.

I visualise both the whole thing (me, the rod, the line, the fish - if there is one), as well as breaking it down into individual components. When I break it down I generally think of either my arm movement or the loop in the air. Interestingly I rarely, if ever, think of the rod when visualising.

The only time I think of the rod is when I'm actually casting, and then this is generally all I actually focus upon. I am 'feeling' for the energy of the cast, which is stored in the rod.

Therefore when I am imagining my cast, I see it and I focus on the loop, the stroke or the entire subject. And when I am actually casting I feel the rod.

The other thing sometimes do, is to try and see myself casting, while casting. The first time I regularly started doing something like this was while endurance running. After about 8 fast miles I'd be very conscious that I was actually watching myself run. In casting, visualising first and then watching myself mirror the same action definitely helps.

All of this I can easily explain and is good practice. Most sportsmen I know use this to improve their techniques; from ping-pong to shooting.

However what I can't explain is that I can also visualise the fish taking the fly, and then it does. Even with sinking lines. I used to think that I was sensing some event about to happen, now I'm not so sure.

I can and have stalked fish without physically seeing them. And I know when a fish is following my fly subsurface. When I am 'tuned in', I am never surprised by a take, even at depth.

There is lots of stuff I don't even pretend to understand here. I just accept it.


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