It’s late June and getting warmer by the day, so the fishing in the North Carolina mountains has slowed to a trickle. Recent rains have filled the lakes to the brim, so our tailwater rivers are running full bore; and the mountain streams, while bulging, are a bit too warm for trout.
I frequently use this type of downtime to work on a particular angling skill, usually either fly tying or casting. I recently chose the latter.
It didn’t take me long to find quality instruction. TFO offers The Complete Cast, a three-and-a-half hour DVD that covers all aspects of fly casting. TFO advisors Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski are the instructors.
TFO, unfortunately, because of Lefty’s passing, has sold out of the DVD; however the digital version is available on Vimeo, which was perfect for me since I didn’t want to wait to order by mail. I grabbed a credit card and $39.95 later, I was immersed in one of my happy places, fly-casting geekdom.
I love fly casting. I can cast in the yard for hours and not get bored. Sometimes, Waylon, my young English Cocker Spaniel, will watch from the hill above our house. He’s as loyal as any dog I’ve owned, but even he can only take about 45 minutes of back casts, reach casts and curve casts before fleeing for the front door.
During my nearly 30 years of fly fishing, I’ve taken casting lessons from some of the best in the business: Joe Bressler at the Western Rivers (Orvis) Guide School; Bob Cramer of Mossy Creek (Va.) Fly Shop; Enver Hysni of Tampa Bay on the Fly; Mac Brown of Bryson City, N.C.; Henry Williamson of Brookings Anglers in Cashiers, N.C.; Billy Kingsley of the Blue Ridge Angler in Harrisonburg, Va.; and Dayle Mazzarella of Tampa’s Plant High School among others.
If there’s a fly-casting video in existence, I’ve probably seen it. Years ago, I used to watch Lefty, Mel Krieger, Billy Pate, Joan Wulff and Jack Dennis. When YouTube was born, I turned to Bill Higashi, Steve Rajeff and Davin Ebanks aka Mr. Windknot.
Suffice it to say, I’ve seen just about every shred of info there is when it comes to fly casting. Still, it was not enough.
I can now add The Complete Cast to my vast fly-casting/fly-fishing library.
Here are my thoughts. Keep in mind this DVD is nearly four hours long, so there is no earthly way to summarize the content in a single blog post. That said, here goes:
- The Complete Cast is comprehensive. It covers freshwater and saltwater casting with in-depth instruction from two voices. Don’t expect to grab a beer after work and knock it out before dinner. Cherry picking the best parts or the parts you think apply directly to you probably won’t work, either, because you need to see the entire DVD to comprehend an overview of the concepts. It’s best to see the forest first, then the trees. My advice: Watch it in sections of an hour or so.
- Lefty is a fine caster, a great fisherman and a phenomenal teacher. There are a handful of folks who have a good grasp of fly casting, but Lefty separates himself from the pack with his communication skills and analogies. Both Jaworowski and Lefty are big on sports references. Lefty often uses baseball comparisons. Jaworowski uses golf to get his point across. Both are spot on.
- There are no absolutes. Obviously, the fundamentals of fly casting are pretty rock solid, but one of the themes in the DVD is that the angler’s objective and how the principles of fly casting are applied often hinge on the fishing situation. For instance, we all want distance, but how much is enough? That, of course, depends. If you’re in your yard trying to impress your spouse, 80 feet might work, but if you’re fishing for bones in the Florida Keys against a nasty headwind, 30 feet might just be the ticket.
- It pays to have a firm grasp of the obvious. I, for one, could never really master a good steeple cast or a roll cast. With the steeple cast, you have to point your rod and hand toward the sky as if you’re casting the fly (with a forward cast) toward the heavens. I did the reverse (using a back cast) for years. On the roll cast, I usually pulled the rod downward instead of forward. Actually, I give myself partial credit for figuring the roll cast out before watching the DVD. The info merely confirmed my flaws.
- Practice makes perfect. Featured are drills for loop control and accuracy. Casting through a hula hoop develops loop control; casting toward a hula hoop on the ground, by contrast, helps with accuracy. To up the ante, Lefty is shown casting toward a mousetrap.
The Complete Cast is a good DVD with a ton of quality information. It doesn’t matter if you fish for brook trout or bonefish, there’s something for every fly fisherman, from the beginner to the expert. To purchase digitally, go to Vimeo’s website: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thecompletecast/
And, as always, let us know what you think with a comment on one of our social media pages.