Form in Fly Casting and Life

I work out at the local YMCA four times per week.

Two of the days I do TRX. TRX, which is a suspension trainer, looks to be a simple and straightforward apparatus for exercise. However, as I caution students when I’m instructing (I’m on the volunteer staff), it is a technical workout requiring good form to prevent injury (something I’ve seen happen) and to ensure the appropriate muscles are engaged.

The other two days I do cardio and strength training. It is in the free-weights area that poor form seems to be a condition of use (or misuse). Self-delusion as to one’s physical strength is widespread.

To be fair, there are a number of men and women who show outstanding form in their lifts. Unfortunately, many who would most benefit from watching good form do not pay attention.

It can be disconcerting to see groups of young college-age studs “curl” 35 – 40 pound dumbbells as they bob back and forth using their powerful back muscles to help power up the dumbbells – proudly telling their friends about the burn. They are not as strong as they think and risk injury for that delusion.

Poor form is not restricted to strength training.

Similar problems exist in fly casting – if not the same risk of injury. On the forums I read related to fly rods, a common question relates to how a particular rod performs. Often the questioner will preface the question by claiming the ability to cast to the backing with no problem.

The backing, which is loaded first on the reel, ensures that if a powerful fish takes a fly and swims away with it there is sufficient line/backing to fight and eventually land the fish. The other thing backing does is to fill the reel to make reeling in line more efficient. If that doesn’t make sense, you need to go back and read up on some basic physics.

Most fly lines are 90-100 feet long. So casting to the backing means some combination of aerializing or shooting a significant length of line. Depending on the rod size and line weight, that can be a challenge or relatively simple. With my six-weight rod and one of my lines, I can get to around 80-90 feet (close to the backing).

But in itself, it’s not a big deal either way. What is a big deal is how accurate one is casting that far. And the truth, like the young studs muscling up a dumbbell, is most are not really doing what they say they are doing.

Casting far with poor form is relatively easy; casting accurately repeatedly with poor form is next to impossible. My accuracy decreases dramatically beyond about 50 – 60 feet.

It would be much better to focus on form and accuracy and let the distance come later if it’s ever needed – and in most fisheries it’s not.

And I suppose that brings me to the real point here and that relates to form in our everyday lives.

How often do we think about how we are doing something rather than just what we are doing?

How often do we focus on the act of savoring the smell and taste of food rather than just shoveling food into our mouths?

How often do we focus on complete listening when someone is talking to us?

How often do we mindlessly lock the door on the way out of the house, then turn back a few steps later and check to see if we locked the door?

In these and most other things in life, do we actually use good form in all we do?

And by form, I mean awareness and being in the moment.

I struggle with always putting it into practice, but I truly believe that how we do anything is how we do everything.

So the next time you cast a fly rod, lift a dumbbell, or eat a meal give yourself over to it completely.

It will pay dividends far beyond what you’re actually doing.

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Author: Tom

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