“Hacks” by Bill Wheeler

A few more “hacks”, really more pieces of advice. The Master’s exam is more than just getting the tasks done, its about really excelling at casting and understanding what you are doing and how to teach it.
1. Use small soccer cones as your targets, but put hoops slightly smaller than the 30 inch diameter buffer allowed the target around the target. Use the hoops only to make sure you were within the prescribed distance from the target. Don’t use the hoop as the target. As you get better put out smaller hoops, ie. overtrain.
2. Place your targets offset from the tape you use for measurements. Examiners often put them off the tape for the test.
3. Practice the roll cast, switch and spey casts on both water and grass. You don’t know which surface you will have for the test. Examiners are trying to do them more on water.
4. Tie a small knot towards one end of the yarn fly and tie it to the leader right below the knot not in the middle. This makes for a more streamlined fly.
5. If its windy, don’t stay home. Go out and practice your casting in the wind tactics. Same goes for rain and cold. You never know what your testing situation will be like.
6. If you are practicing on water, don’t forget to use floatant on your yarn. It is much harder to roll cast or spey cast a sunken fly than one floating on the water.
7. Don’t forget to practice with your non dominant hand. A good drill is to false cast alternating between the dominant and non dominant hand. Its initially tricky, but once you get the rhythm, it gives you a good tempo.
8. Continuously refine your teaching tasks. Work on making them clearer and more succinct. We are not talking about 3 or 4 revisions, but dozens to get just the right message across. Practice on real people and take every opportunity you can to teach.
9. Practice making a false cast or two after you have demonstrated a tail. Some examiners like to see you false cast after demoing the tail. Of course, some tails are so horrendous you can’t do this. I usually put a slight tracking error in my tailing demonstration so that the tail is visible from the side, but the two legs don’t collide to avoid a horrendous knot in my line.
10. Experiment with different ways to do things and try to make bad casts as you will have to demonstrate that. Think about what generates a good cast and what and how faults degenerate a cast.
11. Always think about what you are doing when you are casting. Don’t just do 30 false casts. I have seen students just get into the mode and false cast nonstop. Stop when something is wrong or different and analyze what happened
12. Never waste a cast. So many candidates just do a wide pick up or huge roll cast when they are repositioning the line just to get it over with. Use each one of those casts as a learning experience by trying to make a good cast.

13. If you are doing videos of your casting, wear a dark top with no pattern because it does not reflect back onto the screen and impair your ability to see the video. I sometimes take a coat and put it over the screen and my head like the old timey photographers.

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