Unlike many casting enthusiasts that find themselves engrossed in distance casting, I have spent much more time trying to develop accuracy, precision and distance control. Like most of you, my tried and true method has been to use a set of hoops that I made myself out of polypropylene tubing. This has worked quite well, however year before last I found a method I think is much more effective.
The problem with hoops is that while they are effective in developing accuracy, precision and distance control, they only provide that at an arbitrary point in space. This is fine for competition casting for points, but I am much more concerned with real-world fishing scenarios. When fishing we are required to place a fly at a specific place, at a specific distance. Most importantly, we are required to do this IN CLOSE RELATION to something else...the fish. I've concluded that casting to hoops is akin to hitting a golf ball to a green with no flag or hole....we don't want to just hit the green, we want to place the ball as close to the hole as possible!
To that end, I have put together a "casting practice course" that is both cheap and very effective. It utilizes 2' x 4" lumber cut in different lengths to simulate different sizes of fish. The beauty of the 2" x 4" fish" is that it gives the brain much more information and feedback when practicing accuracy, precision and distance control. The idea is not new, as over the years there have been several practice aids marketed to simulate a real fish your casting to. But, like any good South Texas Redneck, I used what I had lying around in the barn.
When utilizing this method you can in your mind's eye imagine one end of the 2x4 as the head and the other as the tail, then place the fly as close to or as far from as the head as you require. Additionally, because the 2x4 has two ends, you can easily utilize either end as the head (or tail). Expanding on that idea, you can also place the boards at various angles to simulate a fish facing towards you, or facing away from you depending upon which end you choose to visualize as the head or the tail. We can even go one step further and visualize the 2x4 as a log, or rock or some other form of structure we must place the lure in close relation to.
This method has transformed the way I think about effective practice, and how it relates to the way the brain perceives and uses visual stimuli when estimating distance and direction. Additionally, it didn't cost me an arm and a leg to set up. I have probably twenty of these laid out on my casting course in the yard. Some are out in the open, some are next to or behind obstructions, some are perpendicular to the caster, and others are at very radical angles in relation to the caster.
In next weeks Front Page I'll detail some of the games that Jackson and I have developed to make this kind of practice not only effective but downright fun.
Until then, hope you all have a great week!