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Discussion Starter #1
In Search of the Magic Bullet
By Tyler Kushnir

Fisherman are always looking for the magic bullet, that sure-fire fly, the secret lake or river that will produce the day of days. Speycasters are no different; they want to make the perfect cast, to become speycasting gods and as such are suckers for the latest and greatest line, or rod, or casting system. They hope that the flavour of the day will get them to the next level.

This innate susceptibility to the new and wonderful is very good for the tackle industry, but is not much help in the quest to become a great caster. In fact, the allure of the magic bullet may be the single greatest detriment to a caster’s graduation from the ranks of the intermediate casters to that of advanced or expert. When a new line is developed a craze results, generally it starts with a renowned caster championing the line and they are eagerly followed by hordes of converts. The result is a spate of line sales and a general hubbub of excitement.

Not that this is bad, for example, Way Yin and Steve Choate’s introduction of the XLT a couple of years ago and more recently the interest in Skagit casting and its Jedi Masters have been tremendous for the sport. We owe these guys a debt of gratitude for advancing spey casting.

However, the problem is that these lines whet the appetite for the magic bullet that intermediate casters hope will instantly turn them into expert casters. There are a considerable number of casters who jump from line to line, or rod to rod, or style to style in the hope that it will be the one – the one that will be magic for them. Unfortunately, all this does is ensure that no style or line is mastered!

The reason that great casters are great casters is not their tackle – it is the work they have put into becoming great casters. There are no short cuts, or as I have called them magic bullets. Good casting is a result of good technique; good technique is a result of practice. Good tackle, or new innovations in tackle like the XLT or Skagit lines may be great and useful advancements and may even make good technique easier to attain – but they are merely tools.

The plain and simple reality of becoming a great caster is to practice, practice some more… then try to find some more time to practice. This does not mean fishing… it means casting. As much as I love to fish (and in spite of my never-ending teasing of Dana about being a "caster"), I did not begin to make real advancements as a caster until I began to simply practice.

This was driven home to me by Derek Brown a number of years, ago during a two-day casting class on the Fraser River. He was adamant that the casters used yarn only – no hooks! In his colourful way he explained that once you had a hook on your tippet you were more interested in catching a fish than improving your technique – he was so right. I made more improvements in those two solid days of casting than I had made in two years of fishing. The great casters like Steve Choate and Scott MacKenzie practice every day – that is why they are great – not their tackle systems.

So, if one wants to move to the next level as a caster it is actually fairly simple (not necessarily easy – but simple), all that is required is practice. Certainly, making sure that you are practicing correct technique is essential – but after that becoming a speygod is merely a function of work ethic – not a magic bullet.
 

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Tyler,

Excellent!!

So many people I meet try to run before they walk, and in doing so skip the basic essentials. Poor technique is derived from a lack of understanding of the basics.
Derek Brown is so right in not allowing casting students to fish, the two just do not mix.
Spend A few bucks on a casting lesson before buying the gear would be my advice every time.

Slow lift and keep moving!!

Ian
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Peter,

You aren't raining on any parades... I am not advocating casting over fishing, I am simply suggesting that learning proper technique is more important than searching for the new magic line that will make all your casting foibles disappear.

It seems that you agree with me - so why the negativity?
 

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Hey Peter
We're here for the fish, too.
But there are fish beyond the Great Lakes. Glad you've found what works for your rivers. I tailor mine to wherever I'm fishing, too.
Bill
 

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Tyler
I enjoyed reading this, very well put.
 

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Junkyard Spey
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Hey Peter...

Global warming must be worse then I thought. Have the winters gotten warmer in the Great Lakes region? I can still remember (so it wasn't that long ago) when you were lamenting the short head lines because of "all that stripping" especially in the winter with ice in the guides. Why is that not an issue now when it was 2 or 3 years ago?
 

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get down!

just referring to where the big fish love to travel,maybe Peter is focusing on that aspect,i understand that,just like an old die-hard swinger like me `nymphing' :tsk_tsk: with a speyrod and a fairly short head line,well,i think change is good,there is after all, so many different ways to `two',,but i agree with Kush=practice,i'm just a turd now,used to practice every day,125 ft was a reachable distance,now,90 ft=i'm grateful if i lucked out and somehow,when i stumbled forward over a rock on the drive,barely keeping my face dry ;)made it!hahaha
 

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peter-s-c said:
Here's a perfect example where the assumption played out that good casting = good fishing but it's simply not the case -- one does not automatically lead to the other.
Peter, have you ever seen a good fisherman who was a poor caster?

I think not
 

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Practise and focus.

Finally somebody points into the right direction. I would like to add some notes to Kush text.

Practise is a base for any kind of sports related activity. For casting a twohander I would like to bring up the factor of consistancy. Being able to cast smooth, precise loops under all kind of conditions. This starts wtih being at peace with your equipment.

Many of the Swedes are good underhand casters. This starts with their equipment. For example on the river Morrum you are supposed to fish with (for the May Salmon season) a 15' rod with a 37-39 gram head. Thats it! Almost no discussion on tackle here. So what you see is that the focus of the fisherman is on their casting. During fishing they roll out a few extra loops yust to keep the smooth feeling, to polish their casting stroke. Its all about keeping feel for the balance of your rod and line. Most guys here are doing this since they were 12-15 years of age (when they started). So after 10, 20,30 or up to 50 years of polishing their casting stroke whith a 15'rod and 37 gram head for salmon'(april/may june) or a 13' rod with a 31 gram head for seatrout (august/september) you will become a smooth and consistance caster.

What you also see here that the focus on casting is shifting from detail to detail. Sice and shape of the D-loop, the moment of release (shooting) of the forward outrolling loop etc. etc. But always with the same basic equipments.

The same you will see in Scotland with, a bit slower 15' rods and DT, or mid-belly lines. Casting the way it has always be done and proactising out of that tradition to develop your own casting level with a consistant increase of distance and being smooth. The rules of how to cast are still the same as Kelson wrote in his book in the late 1800's. He already spoke about Underhand casting. So not to much news under the sun here. So be patient, pay your dues, invest time and thoughts in your casting. Go with an allaround combination (like a 14' rod for a midbelly 9-weight) and enjoy it. And please let not every new discussion confuse you.
 

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Hey Hammer...

You used the words "swinger" and "nymphing" in the same sentence. Are you sure you are talking about fishing? :whoa:
 

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I am with you Kush

I fish here in the GL area and I believe that there is no reason to say one line vs another is the way to go. The rivers you fish no matter where you are will dictate one style over another. But whether you are into skagit casting or long bellies practice is the key. Without being able to present the fly properly your chances of catching a fish are hampered something terrible. There are way to many people who want to get into the sport by going out and buying the perfect setup and hitting the river and casting like a guy who has done it his whole life? Like any sport you need to practice. You need to put in a certain amount of time to be reasonably successful at it. The more time and effort and practice you put into it the more you will get out of it. Too many people I know want to borrow a rod/reel/line and hit the river and cast like the guys out there who have been doing it for years? It just isnt that easy. But that is one of the reasons I love the sport so much. There is always room for improvement. There are always new things to learn and to try. Its not about the destination but about the journey to get there.
 

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Mike, you told Hammer about the "hotpants"? :eek: Is nothing sacred?

All kidding aside, in my opinion, Tyler hit this one dead-on. There is no magic bullet. Whether you wish to be a good caster or just cast well enough to be a good fisher, you need to put your time in. You can flit from style and fad to style and fad all you want but in the end, if you still can't cast to where the fish are, you are out of luck. There is very little bad tackle out there now and each of the line systems has it's areas where it truly shines. The best fishermen I know and I'm blessed enough to know a few good ones, first became proficient casters in one style and then learned to adapt the various styles to the specifics of the rivers and conditions they fish.
 

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Well said Kush! For me the different types of lines have nothing to do with this kind of style or that kind.
They are just tools for different runs or conditions. I like them all. Some better than others.
Practice makes perfect!
 

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Hey Mr. Tip...

Mike, you told Hammer about the "hotpants"? Is nothing sacred?
No, I did not tell him anything about any Hotpants or what happens deep in the brush along the riverbank. He is either good at reading "the code" or he is a "peeping Hammer er Tom" lurking about and spying on our secret rituals. I have been keeping my little "jailbait" hidden from the publics prying, judgemental eyes.

I also agree with Kush about practicing. My casting is ugly but since I've started to practice more it is consistently ugly. :whoa:
 

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Eating your spinach

It's all about eating your spinach. I won't be a great guitarist, because I'd rather play than eat my spinach. Learning all the scales I need, etc. I'd also rather fish than practice casting, so while I have eaten some spinach, I eat dessert first and fish:D

Things should change soon though. My oldest is entering kindergarten this fall, and my youngest is in three day a week preschool. That gives me a 2.5 hour window three times a week. Not enough time to fish, but more than I need to practice. So I will be practicing more, with any luck. Then, like MJC, I can strive to be consistently bad...
 

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It really can't be all about the spinach :whoa: nasty stuff!!! keep it fun, have a good time on the river thats what its all about. If you wan't to be a spey god then practice every day for two hours, yes it will pay off in the end and make your fishing easier and more rewarding but at the end of the day if you can't walk off the river with a smile on your face then your going about it the wrong way. Keep it simple, keep it fun.
 
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