Rely On Muscle Memory for Difficult fly Casts

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Rely on your trained muscle memory to pull off difficult casts on the water. Photo Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

I learned a long time ago that most of the time my clients cast better in high pressure situations when they’re relaxed, confident and keep their head out of the game.

It’s really easy to think that the more difficult a fly fishing presentation is, the more we should be trying to focus and think about every detail of our cast during the execution. According to many neuroscientists and psychologists who’ve studied why professional athletes choke under pressure, most agree that thinking too much during a task, no matter how routine it may be, can actually decrease your chances for succeeding in high pressure situations. [Psychologist Sian Beilock of the University of Chicago calls it “paralysis by analysis.” Beilock, author of the book, “Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To,” contends that too much thinking at the wrong time can lead to “logjams in the brain” because they’re thinking too much and that ends up overriding their muscle memory.]

So the next time you’re confronted on the water with a difficult presentation and you feel the pressure weighing you down, take a second or two to take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and let your trained muscle memory do the work. If you go into a fly casting situation on the water doubting yourself and thinking, “I can’t make this cast, it’s too difficult” chances are you’re not going to make a successful presentation. However, if you throw away all that negativity and doubt, and instead believe in your fly casting skills, more times than not, you’ll pull off the cast without a hitch.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Rely On Muscle Memory for Difficult fly Casts

  1. Good advice Kent. However, I feel it is critical to separate the performance overthinking from the assessment of whether it is worth it to even try the difficult cast in the first place. As I advance from spot to spot on the river, I decide where to cast and whether it is worth a try or not. Thus, my only “thinking” is a risk-benefit analysis for the cast. Will reaching a given spot provide a sufficient chance for successful hookup or will it cause a snag/loss of a rig/spooking of more accessible fish? If it is worth a try, I go for it without overthinking as you suggest, which is the same way I played football, flew a helicopter in combat, etc. Rely on your practice and preparation. But if a difficult cast is likely to result in a substantial issue, I pass up the chance and go for better options.

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