Fly-Fishing & Golf

A fly fishing student once posed me an intriguing question: “Are casting a fly and swinging a golf club similar?”

At first I responded noncommittally with a shrug and a “sort of.” After I drove home from that day’s classes, however, it really began to hit me that the two sports do have much in common. As I drove, the commonalities rolled together rim my mind and I realized, as I lost count, that the best comparison would be between delivering a fly cast and putting.

Both sports are played with levers — that is, a fly and golf putter are both levers moved to force the action. But the end result is entirely different, sinking a dimpled ball into a hole in the ground versus attracting a living, breathing mouth with gills.

In fly casting or delivering the fly, it will travel in the direction of the rod tip. The tip speeds up and stops and wherever that is translates into where — or what direction — the fly will travel and be placed on the water. In golf, the ball will travel in the path the putter head hits it on the sweet spot and follow through. Both are motions that can be only done through acceleration not a deceleration.

In order to achieve this student must move the lever in a relaxed smooth stoke back and through. In the past, both sports were taught using a clock analogy. In golf, the pendulum stroke and in fly-fishing, casting the hands on a clock 10 to 2 were the preferred explanations. Since we are all are different sizes and strengths, however, strokes will differ as well. But we must try and repeat the motion over and over, properly speeding up and stopping in fly casting or speeding up and stroking the golf putt. There must be as little tension as possible when making both the cast and the stroke.

There are some casters in fly fishing who use a more vertical-style cast, slightly off shoulder with a 10 and 2 o’ clock motion. They often cast extremely well and it suits their body shape and feel since that is how they were taught. Other in the sport cast more on a side-arm plane or closer to horizontal. They will cast over their shoulder to watch the fly line and make sure they are keeping it on a straight path. As in golf, some golfers putt with a very still forearm and wrist to remain in a one-piece movement while others seem more relaxed and use more wrists in their stroke.

In conclusion since most of us do not have the time to invoke the ‘10,000-hour rule’ we must rely on what gets the job done with the best results.

Practice, patience, and your own method of self-discovery will help you find the right stroke. The more we practice it the more we develop confidence –so when it’s time to deliver the putt or the right cast with the proper drift, we can accomplish the task with confidence.