Some say that I might be biased being Chairman of GAIA but I really do believe that we should all take casting lessons if you plan to be a fly fisherman. Having done so you then need time to practice, going fishing is not enough you need to go practice. Fly fishing has a technical requirement similar to a golf stroke, if you wish to fly fish you need to cast or you will struggle to get past go. Golfers all take lessons at some stage in their golfing careers and most of them will continue to refresh their strokes or putting techniques. They also practice, golf driving ranges and practice greens get used and professionals video their clients efforts to aid development.
Fly fisherman for some strange reason believe that they can go without instruction and development. I was out the other day with an experienced fisherman in a boat and was surprised to see that he could not double haul. His fishing would have been more enjoyable if he could improve his casting. It was not about distance but about less effort to attain the same result and after 8 hours in a boat at our age less effort has to be good.
I doubt that he has ever had a lesson and yet was happy to spend £500 on a rod. Expensive rods do not improve your casting, I own rods that cost many hundreds of pounds and yet often turn to rods that cost tens of pounds only, my first choice boat rod costs £70 and was won in a competition. Its technique and practice that improve casting and fishing performance.
Photo courtesy of John Symonds
If you fish a river for trout or salmon than casting is even more important to cope with the vagaries of river currents and winds. Master caster Gary Borger I think it was who said that having learned to cast well and understand the principles with overhead casts it was then a requirement to learn to develop faults, curve casts, aerial mends, pile casts. These are skills required to fish well especially on running water. Notice that we have not even mentioned salmon fishing and spey casting.
After 40 years fly fishing I still get lessons and get videos of my technique I am constantly looking for improvement, my current project is sorting my left handed spey casting . If you doubt the value of lessons go try it get some from a qualified instructor preferably a member of GAIA then go and practice in preparation to fish.