This second edition of Joan Wulff’s New Fly-Casting Techniques has been comprehensively updated with new content, illustrations, photographs that will illuminate Joan Wulff’s extraordinary life, and a complete rewrite of the text. This is a richly illustrated guide that offers precise terms for every part of the cast, with sections on line speed, improving accuracy and distance, loop control, and much more.
Having spent the last week dipping in and out this superb second edition of Joan Wulff’s established classic on the mechanics and techniques of fly casting, I have to say I am fired up to get out on the water and try some of the techniques listed as I know they will help my casting. With 40+ years of entrenched bad habits thanks to no formal casting training at any time (unless you count being bonked on the head with a flats pole by a well-meaning guide trying to persuade me to listen to his advice), I guess I am probably not a lot different from many fly fishers who were introduced to the sport by a relative rather than formally via professional lessons.
That is not to say this book is not for the most proficient casters amongst us as I am sure we can all benefit from reminders and maybe suggestions for new ways of learning from time to time, perhaps different to our own techniques. Joan Salvato Wulff (to use her full name which is also often used) is one of the internationally acknowledged experts in fly casting tuition with several decades of experience under her wading-belt. A tournament-winning competitive caster in the early part of her fly fishing career, marriage to the famous fly angler and conservationist Lee Wulff led to them travelling the world fishing together until they opened their Fly Fishing School in 1979 since which Joan has taught four to five thousand students she estimates over the span of 30+ years.
As Joan explains in this second edition of the ‘NEW’ book; “Fly Casting Techniques, published in 1987, was a pioneering effort in identifying a set of “mechanics” as well as creating a vocabulary. At the time, fly casting itself had no prestige and no one knew what I was talking about.”
Things are different today of course and many of us will have watched and admired fly casting demonstrations by the likes of Charles Jardine and Hywel Morgan to name a couple of masters here in the UK, plus Simon Gawesworth, Left Kreh and more like brothers Steve and Tim Rajeff in the USA not to mention Joan Wulff herself of course. Fly casting has been raised to an art form at its highest level with stunning videos being made of super tight loops, distance casting events and double-handed wizardry like snake rolls and the like from the salmon boys and girls.
I like the overall layout of the book for a start, which is in a large letter sized format and uses clear illustrations of all the major points and techniques given, and is not too text heavy either. You don’t feel like you are expected to swallow a whole instruction manual to receive the benefits being offered – all that is expected is to practice and understand the reason behind the practice. The basics are anchored around Joan’s instruction for a correct grip of the fly rod (not unlike perfecting a golf grip) and proper use of shoulder, arm and wrist to achieve the perfect cast, and are broken down into bite-size logical chunks to read and re-read so they sink in before practicing.
The book picks up pace into more advanced techniques once it has taken you through the basics of your first casts or indeed, helping you identify and correct faults in them, moving onto false casting, tailoring your loops, double and single hauls, casting for distance and much more, then also into associated topics like choosing a fly rod, fly lines, simple knots and even tells you how to have a go at casting without a fly rod!
“to each of the few thousand students with whom interaction has spurred me to search for better explanation of how to cast a fly. every time i teach , i learn.”
I was lucky enough to meet Joan Wulff several years ago at one of the International Fly Tackle Dealer shows in the USA as well as watch her teaching some young anglers on the casting pool, and her warmness and gentle confidence shows through plainly in her book. This translates into a style that makes you firmly believe that you can do this and you will improve which only then drives you further forwards.
This is definitely a book that I, and I am sure you, will find it very useful to dip back into regularly in order to continue to improve over the years to come. Thanks Joan!