The Importance of Casting Practice

     As we unloaded our gear from the vehicles Spencer asked if we should rig up tonight or in the morning.  "Probably tonight" I said, "Got to practice anyways."  The look on his face was priceless, "Practice?"  This seemed strange to me knowing Spencer's penchant for exercise.  He's a guy that constantly work outs, eats right, and prepares for physical activity.  Practice is important to him, so is routine, yet he still looked confused.  "Practice 20 minutes everyday regardless of what you fish for was my answer."
     It's something that I kind of live by as a "Pro Angler."  Professionals in any industry don't rely on luck to meet goals.  They put in the work required to reach them.  The roman philosopher Seneca once said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."  Words to live by I think.  You see if you don't practice than you can't react.  Over the years I've noticed that many of my so called "Lucky" catches seemed to show up out of nowhere.  The cast, hook set, and landing of the fish, just happen.  I believe it's because of the hours spent practicing.  My body only needs to react and muscle memory takes over allowing me to catch the fish.
     The best example I can think of to illustrate this is when I caught the largemouth bass pictured to the left.  It was during the Cub Scout Fishing Derby I hold each year for the scouts of pack 39.  I was talking with the boys about how to cast and deal with the weeds while carrying around my musky combo with a Lee Lures Waterchopper tied on the line.  I didn't bring the musky gear to catch the bass in this small pond.  I brought it along because the kids think the lures are huge!  They always get a kick out of my big game fishing gear so I always make sure to bring it along.  While we were talking the water by the small island exploded.  Something was chasing prey right next to the shore under the cover of weeds and low lying branches.  Without thinking I pointed to the water to get the boys attention and fired off a cast.  A cast with a big musky lure, into extremely tight cover.  The bass hit the topwater bait within the first few cranks of the handle.  The scouts were shocked that such a big fish lived in the little pond and everybody started casting to try and beat my catch.  Those boys still talk about that fish 3 years later.  If I didn't practice each day I would have never been able to make that cast.
     Practice is something simple you can do to keep your skills sharp when you're not on the water.  Just taking out your fly rod and firing off some casts will keep you in tune with your casting stroke.  Same goes for pitching, flipping, or skipping with a bait caster.  You don't have to spend hours practicing each day.  Just spend 20 minutes or so and it will add up over time.  Taking the time to practice your casting is a great way to catch more fish on a consistent basis.  Don't believe me?  It worked for Spencer...
Spencer Jones with a great catch on the Wolf River.
     Tight Lines.

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