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Marina Gibson’s 5 Ways to improve your fly fishing from home!

We’re all missing our fishing right now, but what can we do to keep the fire burning and our skills sharp? Orvis fly fishing guide and Angling Trust ambassador Marina Gibson has some great ideas to improve your casting and keep that angling spark alive if you are a fly angler.

1. Casting accuracy practice
(preferably outdoors to avoid breakages!)

Here’s a neat set up for any garden or yard space. Nothing beats practise to improve your accuracy! This exercise is obviously aimed at fly casting, but other anglers could always set up their own targets with sinkers or lures.

2. Learn 5 new casts or fishing techniques
(perfect for indoors!)

When it comes to refining or learning new techniques YouTube tutorials are quite often the best way to get the ball rolling without having to leave home.

For example, double hauling is an extremely useful technique:

A “Practicaster” (as it sounds, an indoor practise casting rod) is another great home tool for you and your kids. These come with a wool line, but you can also replace this with a flyline and practice just about anything without breaking your crockery!

The “Practicaster” is a safe way to get the timing of your casts to a tee in the comfort of your own home, without threatening the crockery!

If you don’t have a Practicaster, try using just the first two sections of your rod. You can also practice on your knees, giving you more space above for your loops, whilst pretending to stalk a trout from the bank. We’ve all done it… just draw the curtains, so the neighbours don’t think you’re mad!

Practicing your double haul:

The double haul cast (or DH for short) is about manipulating the line during the casting stroke to increase line speed. By doing this with two distinct pulls or “hauls” you can add distance and cast more efficient loops into the wind. It’s also very useful for anyone who casts bigger flies.

Mel Kreiger, a well known casting instructor, explains that the pulling on the line movement is a downup (all one word). The most important thing is to get your hands back together.

Practising your double haul with a low rod is a great idea, as it allows you to freeze the cast on the ground after each “haul”. Once you get the hang of it, you can then start raising your rod to your normal casting position.

Here is an exercise you can do at home, indoors or outdoors: Set out some cones or markers in the shape of a triangle – stand at the point and use the other two for your casting arc, pull on the line ‘downup‘ and lay the line down on the floor.

This cast is so much easier to perfect with the rod held low, so you can effectively “freeze” the cast after each “downup” stroke or “haul”! Once you’re in a rhythm you can “climb the ladder” (i.e. raise your rod bit by bit) until you’re at your normal casting stroke angle. If you’re doing it indoors, concentrate on doing small hauls and just work on your timing.

3. Fill a fly box!

Filling a fly box requires no water or fish… and is very satisfying!

What better time to prepare a fresh set of flies for when the season opens again?
Here are just some of my upcoming fly tying aims, incorporating some of the flies I just wouldn’t be without: Klinkhammer, Elk Hair Caddis, Griffiths Gnat, Quill Body CDC, Partridge and Orange Spider, Snipe and Purple Spider, Pheasant tail, Hare’s Ear, Diawl Bach and Duracell.

If you’re new to fly tying (like me) I would recommend David Mcphail’s YouTube videos to help you along the way.

4. Practice your knots and learn new ones that are out of your comfort zone

One question that cropped up in one of my recent live question and answer sessions was a real eye-opener:

Q: ‘What is something that most people learn only after it’s too late?’
A: KNOTS!!!!!

We all learn this from experience at some stage. Indeed, no matter how durable your hook or line, we are all only as strong as the knot we tied- and it’s likely to be the biggest fish of the day that finds any weakness!

Whether you get online or find a guidebook, time spent perfecting knots is sure to help your fishing- and a super strong knot might just save you the fish of a lifetime one day!

Here are just a few types of fishing knot to get you started, ranging from beginner’s staples to more advanced fishing knots:

5. Read a fishing book

The next best thing to fishing? Our sport has countless great reads, whether you want to improve your craft or simply relax.

This is one of the best and most relaxing ways to absorb knowledge and learn about a new or old skill. After all, flyfishing is never ending and we will never stop learning.
In this respect, fishing books are plentiful, so using this time to gain more wisdom will only make you more successful in future.

I’m currently reading The History of Flyfishing by Conrad Voss Bark and I’m LOVING it; highly recommended for anyone who is curious about flyfishing evolution.

Last but not least, we should also use these difficult times to rest and be kind to ourselves. If you’re feeling unmotivated, that’s ok too. Take one step at a time and do what you can. There’s no pressure, but I hope these five ideas will be helpful to those who are stuck for ideas. Stay safe and wishing you all tight lines when the time comes…

Best wishes,

For more on Marina Gibson and her highly recommended fly fishing tuition, guiding services and more, check out:

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