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Better Casting Means More Fish




By Stan Fagerstrom
Western Staff Writer

February 25, 2009

Part 1

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4                

This is the first of a series of Inside Line features that has just one objective -- to help you put more fish in the boat.

It doesn’t involve the use of some secret new lure. It has nothing to do with secret fishing spots. Instead I hope to convince you that every darn one of us can indeed improve our angling success. All we need to do so is simply take the one major step that’s necessary and essential.

As I told my friend Heidi Roth, the editor of this web site, I think my experience over more than the past half century gives me unique qualifications to write about such a topic. I have, you see, been giving casting exhibitions and talks on that subject since shortly after they dug the Baby Moses out of the bulrushes. Well, maybe not quite that long, but I have been making part of my living doing it since 1952. 

Over the years I’ve had countless comments and questions from anglers over a sizeable chunk of the world. Those comments and questions have provided a wondrous chance to get a close-up look at the thinking of those who made them.

So what am I talking about?  Simply this: Nothing makes you a more successful angler faster than developing complete mastery of the tools available to you. It’s hard to believe the number of fishermen who simply refuse to accept this basic truth.

There’s no barrier to keep anyone from doing what I’m talking about. There isn’t, that is, if they’ll simply take the one major step to get the job done. Just one word covers darn near all aspects of the solution to the problem. That word is “practice.” Now practice isn’t a nasty, four letter word. But by golly that’s almost how it’s regarded by far too many newcomers, as well as a passel of experienced anglers, who are never going to join that 10% of anglers who usually wind up catching 90% of the fish.

This has always been difficult for me to understand. In this country we accept practice as a part of almost every kind of participant recreation. If you'll ponder that statement for a moment you'll realize it's true. We scrimmage for football or basketball. We practice bowling before league play starts. 

We all know what those crazy golfers will be doing this weekend.  They will be out there hitting one bucket full of practice balls after another. They'll be trying to learn to keep their heads down, their left arms straight and to improve their scores through practice.

Chances are you'll wind up practicing if your wife decides you've tromped on her toes long enough and insists you need dancing lessons. And so it goes. But who practices casting with the different fishing tools and techniques available to them? Not very darn many!

The ability to present a lure on target properly through casting practice is one of the few things all of us can do to improve on the number of fish we put in the boat. If we go fishing tomorrow morning, we can't do one blessed thing about air temperature, wind direction, wind velocity, water temperature or most anything else. 

For that matter, you don't even know what kind of mood your fishing partner will be in.  You've got no control over any of those things. One thing you can control is your ability to put a lure on target time after time and you can do that through practice. And that's what this series on casting is all about.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been giving casting exhibitions to one extent or another for more than half a century. I’ve attempted to teach what I’m writing about. They say one of the best ways to learn about something is to try to teach others about it. I agree. Much of what you'll read in this series is the result of having talked and taught proper casting techniques all over the place both inside and outside of the United States

You might have watched me demonstrate trick and accuracy casting at a major outdoor show somewhere. I've had the good fortune over the years to take part in shows from Tulsa to Tokyo, from Baltimore to Brazil and a whole lot of spots in between.

Much of what you’ll find here is built into what I do in the way of exhibition casting. Certainly there's a good bit of showmanship involved in trick and accuracy casting before an outdoor show audience. But don't kid yourself that it's all show. The better you can handle a rod and reel, the more fish you'll catch. There's just no question about it. You've simply got to be able to do the one before you can expect to accomplish the other.

I've been quoted as saying that most males come into the world thinking they know all about three things. One of them is how to drive, a second is how to make love and a third is how to catch fish. The unfortunate truth is we come on the scene not knowing beans about any one of the three. Most males are willing to practice the first two activities I listed.  But whoever heard of practice for fishing? I have, my friend, and I hope you're serious enough about your own fishing that you will also give it a try.

This series will help. Study it carefully. You'll find it deals with the basics of handling everything from the level wind casting reel to both the open face and closed-face spinning reels. A lot of manuals dealing with reels are written in such a fashion it takes a Harvard professor to understand what in hell the writer is talking about. You’ll find none of that here. But follow my advice and you'll soon be zinging a lure out there as you've never done before. 

What that eventually will mean is more fish. That's got to mean more fun and isn't that primarily what this wonderful business of sports fishing is all about?

I’ll detail what I deem to be the best methods of gaining mastery over all the angling tools available to us in future columns in this series.

Click here for Part 2