Trout Fishing photo

Golf and fly fishing are very similar… one sport played (mostly) dry, the other played (mostly) wet. They’re both about physics, and what happens between the ears is critical. As such, there are many lessons to be learned on the links that can be applied to the river, and vice versa.

For example, I often compare the golf swing with the fly cast. In both cases, it’s all about the “lever.” Look at the photos here, and track along with my logic…


This is me, swinging a 5-iron. I’m right-handed. The major flaw in my golf game is when I try to “wrist” the swing, using my right (dominant) hand to power the shot.

By doing that, I actually take the energy and accuracy away from my stroke. This “chicken wing effect” is ugly (I know). On the left of these side-by-side photos, I’m “wristing” my shot. As a result, I hit the ball to the right (a slice), and I lose at least 30 yards in distance.


But when I figure it out (in the right photos), I keep my left arm dominant through the swing, and thus make my arms (and not my wrists) the power lever, I hit the ball straight, and it flies 180 yards, as intended.

Transpose that to the fly cast. I’ve heard, over and over, that a good fly cast is “all in the wrist.” And that’s complete baloney. You can get away with “wristing” a cast at very short range, but when you want to unfurl a longer cast, you need a large “lever” to power that cast, not a small one. Use only your wrist, and you have no more than six inches of flex and power to make your shot. Make your arm the lever, by maintaining a semi-stiff wrist through the casting stroke, and you also put appropriate energy into that long fly rod, where it belongs.


If you have problems with tailing loops, open loops, or your cast falls short of the mark, odds are when you look at your wrist, it appears something like this.

Make your wrist look more like this, and you’ll get more from the fly rod as you cast.

So when you cast for distance, think “big lever, little lever.” Big is good, little is bad. Remember that, and you’ll shoot your line farther, straighter, and more consistently on-target…I promise.