Fisherman are always looking for the magic bullet, that sure-fire fly, the secret lake or
river that will produce the day of days. Speycasters are no different; they want to make
the perfect cast, to become speycasting gods and as such are suckers for the latest and
greatest line, or rod, or casting system. They hope that the flavour of the day will get
them to the next level.

This innate susceptibility to the new and wonderful is very good for the tackle industry,
but is not much help in the quest to become a great caster. In fact, the allure of the
magic bullet may be the single greatest detriment to a caster’s graduation from the
ranks of the intermediate casters to that of advanced or expert. When a new line is
developed a craze results, generally it starts with a renowned caster championing the line
and they are eagerly followed by hordes of converts. The result is a spate of line sales
and a general hubbub of excitement.

Not that this is bad, for example, Way Yin and Steve Choate’s introduction of the
XLT a couple of years ago and more recently the interest in Skagit casting and its Jedi
Masters have been tremendous for the sport. We owe these guys a debt of gratitude for
advancing spey casting.

However, the problem is that these lines whet the appetite for the magic bullet that
intermediate casters hope will instantly turn them into expert casters. There are a
considerable number of casters who jump from line to line, or rod to rod, or style to
style in the hope that it will be the one – the one that will be magic for them.
Unfortunately, all this does is ensure that no style or line is mastered!

The reason that great casters are great casters is not their tackle – it is the work they
have put into becoming great casters. There are no short cuts, or as I have called them
magic bullets. Good casting is a result of good technique; good technique is a result of
practice. Good tackle, or new innovations in tackle like the XLT or Skagit lines may be
great and useful advancements and may even make good technique easier to attain –
but they are merely tools.

The plain and simple reality of becoming a great caster is to practice, practice some
more… then try to find some more time to practice. This does not mean fishing… it
means casting. As much as I love to fish (and in spite of my never-ending teasing of
Dana about being a "caster"), I did not begin to make real advancements as a caster until
I began to simply practice.

This was driven home to me by Derek Brown a number of years, ago during a two-day
casting class on the Fraser River. He was adamant that the casters used yarn only –
no hooks! In his colourful way he explained that once you had a hook on your tippet
you were more interested in catching a fish than improving your technique – he was
so right. I made more improvements in those two solid days of casting than I had made
in two years of fishing. The great casters like Steve Choate and Scott MacKenzie
practice every day – that is why they are great – not their tackle systems.

So, if one wants to move to the next level as a caster it is actually fairly simple (not
necessarily easy – but simple), all that is required is practice. Certainly, making sure
that you are practicing correct technique is essential – but after that becoming a
speygod is merely a function of work ethic – not a magic bullet.
Tight lines - tyler.

CND The Spey Underground