February 21, 2012
On the Spot: Fly Casting Master Jeff Wagner
By Kirk Deeter
Jeff Wagner wears many hats. For his day job, he's part of the Cabela's team, integrally involved in boosting that company's fly fishing expertise and product offering. He's also a writer, and one of the best casting instructors (a Federation of Fly Fisher's Master) in the country.
If you ever have a chance to watch him talk about casting, it's pretty impressive, as he can carry on a conversation while maintaining flawless 60-foot loops. For now, I simply put Jeff "On the Spot" with some pointed questions about the fly cast.
FlyTalk: What is the number one mistake most anglers make regarding the fly cast?
Wagner: Not stopping the rod. Stopping the rod is what forms the loop. We think of the cast in terms of motion and fluidity, but it't really all about accelerating, then stopping the rod in the right positions, with the right tempo.
Fly Talk: On a 1-100 scale, the angler who thinks he is a "95" caster is really a what?
Wagner: About a 35. But we should all be our own toughest critics, and realize we all have room to improve.
FlyTalk: What is a realistic distance goal a caster should set for himself or herself, in order to be a fully functional fly angler?
Wagner: You should be able to cast 40 feet, accurately, in all conditions. If you're able to cast 30-35-feet in a 25-mile-per-hour wind, you should also be able to cast 60 feet in dead calm conditions, no problem. A real good caster can deal with the elements. It isn't about making long casts in perfect conditions.
FlyTalk: By percentage, break down how much the angler should be roll casting versus making overhead casts on a typical fishing day.
Wagner: That all depends upon where you are fishing, of course. Some rivers demand aerial mends and others are more straight line casts. If I were fishing in a small river in Rocky Mountain National Park, it might be 60 percent roll casts. If I'm fishing a big tailwater like the Green, it might be 60 percent aerial casts. You should be able to mix it up, wherever you fish.
FlyTalk: Who is the best fly caster you've ever seen?
Wagner: Tim Rajeff. The most consistent caster in the world might be his brother, Steve. But the guy who does the craziest stuff is Tim.