Improve Your Casting With A Dog

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By Louis Cahill

A good dog can help you catch more fish.

Most anglers never pick up a fly rod, other than to fish, but making time for consistent and effective casting practice makes a huge difference in your performance on the water. Even anglers who understand this, struggle to make it happen. We don’t get the same pleasure from practice as we do from fishing. None of us started fly fishing because we liked hanging out in the yard.

So here’s an idea to make your practice time more enjoyable and more productive. Take a dog. I’ve been doing this lately and discovered something I didn’t expect. Bear, the Great Pyrenees pictured above, has been living with us while his real mon is having cancer treatment. Like all dogs, Bear needs plenty of time outside. There’s a great park just down the street so I take Bear on regular missions.

So immediately I’ve cleared the biggest hurdle on the road to regular practice.

Making the time. Bear makes sure that I make the time. Like most dogs he wants to sniff every blade of grass in the park. I started taking a rod and some targets to pass the time. Bear gets some relaxed play time and I get my practice in. Everybody wins.

Casting to targets is OK practice for some fishing situations. It does give you the chance to focus on the fundamentals of the cast and improve loop control and accuracy. But as I’ve written before, it does not help you develop good target picture, an important skill in any sight fishing scenario. As I was practicing one afternoon, I noticed something about Bear. His sniffing reminded me of something. He’d get on a scent and root around following it, a lot like a bonefish will do when hunting on a flat.

I started making presentations to Bear. He’d change direction and speed just like a fish would, and I’d adjust my lead and cross to adapt to his behavior. It felt instantly familiar. It became a routine part of my practice sessions. Bear enjoyed it too. It became a game. I’d cleared the last two hurdles, making my practice time both fun and effective. In the process I was fine tuning my target picture and a few weeks later, in the Bahamas, I felt like I saw a difference.

Try taking your dog out to work on your casting. If you don’t have a dog, maybe this is the excuse you need to get one. There are an endless number of wonderful animals out there who need homes. It’ll make you a better angler and a happier person. I promise.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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16 thoughts on “Improve Your Casting With A Dog

  1. I played dodge fly with my daughter a few years ago while checking out a rod I had just finished building. Neighbors must have thought I was nuts. Nailed the target a bunch, and developed some early confidence in that rod.

  2. My dogs have stood in for fish during casting practice over the years too. It does make a difference to have a “non-static” target.

  3. Yes excellent idea. For anyone here who has every played golf, there are many moves in fly fishing similar to those who play golf. The biggest example is a smooth takeaway and finish, especially in the wrist. As a competitive golfer, fly fishing especially in the salt, became a natural extension of the moves I had learned years earlier.

    • My first impressions are really good. This reel is a prototype and there are a few minor things that will change but I took it to the Bahamas for a bonefish trip and it was awesome. Expect a full review once the final model is released.

  4. My Siberian husky loves it. We’ve had the current one for three years (since a pup), and he jumps all over when he sees me grab a fly rod tube!

  5. My dog is too clueless to be any better than casting to a frisbee, so the cat took his place. I “tie” balls of yarn and cast to the cat in the backyard. I even practice hooksets when she grabs it, managing the urge to trout set when I shouldn’t.

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