MIND – BODY – SOUL — Keeping in Shape During the Off Season

| February 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

fly fishers body mind soulTaking a break from tying a batch of flies for stripers and sand bass … surely they will come, and surely I will go and find them somewhere somehow. The weather is rearing it’s slobbery head again this evening. The weathermen make predictions, and our false spring is relegated to a future memory.

It took almost all day today to find a break in the action/inaction and gather some thoughts for our BODY-MIND-SOUL Sunday. I must say I have enjoyed catching my breath, 

by working on a lot of diverse projects such as the Airstream and back to the business of photography – a business entering its 28th. year now. Where did the time go?

While I’ve been under, inside and on top of the Airstream (yes I dragged the A/C up on top yesterday and installed it – SOLO), I have also been checking on the nearest lake to see if there are any signs of life. The fish are undoubtedly smarter than we are, and have not come out of their holes and have not seen their shadows.

I think these times, in this place, are good for thoughts on how we take care of our fly fishing bodies during the off season. Rather than throw out an entire life of how to: a) remain strong, b) maintain aerobic fitness, or c) keep joints strong and muscles and tendons supple … rather than throw all that out at once … let’s take one simple exercise and put it on the calendar.

KEEP CASTING NO MATTER WHAT

The muscle memory of casting a fly rod has to be maintained during long periods like winter in North Texas. And that’s why I try and get out in the front yard (full of obstacles and low tree limbs) and cast at least one rod every week. There are times when I go through three rods just to make sure I can still get a “grip” on their particular characteristics, and adjust the muscles to account for their differences. Wind, rain whatever – all these conditions are what we would deal with anyway, right?

Make sure you put a practice leader on your line, and tie a red feather on the tip. It’ll allow you to actually see what your presentation could look like and make those adjustments. Find a good number of complete casts for each rod you take out, and when you start to feel that muscle in your back warming up – that’s good. Large muscle groups warming up are what we want, and by using practical casting techniques as preached by Lefty Kreh, we stay away from the small muscles that can’t take as much use. I can’t count the number of times I’ve outlasted a clock-caster, but it’s just common sense.

Now, as you practice your cast, don’t forget about that feather on the end and how it’s landing. If I’m throwing the TFO 3-4 fiberglass rod, I want a soft fluttering presentation just like a live fly hitting the water. If I am throwing a saltwater rod, I like to fire away, and concentrate more on accuracy and distance. These changes are fantastic for working the body and the mind.

Two physical exercises I use to go beyond casting a fly rod, but still working on the same muscles are, 1) pushups, and 2) resistance bands with handles. Pushups are what they’ve always been. I use the bands by holding one hand (one handle) static (the non-casting arm), and then run the band around a post behind me. I start off with mild tension, but increase the tension by lengthening my inactive arm. The arm motion is the same as my casting motion. Again, because of the casting technique I mimic, there’s little strain on elbow tendons or any other joints. I go slow and find the right amount of resistance and repetition. If you consider these exercises, you have to know yourself and your limitations.

For me, it’s a slow process of learning what my body responds to, and what will work for me. Fortunately, I am quite blessed to have an unusual ability to recover my conditioning and strength pretty quickly after extended layoffs. Not everyone has such luck. And the older I get, it feels like it takes a little longer every time.

Next weekend we will take a look at the importance of balance as it relates to fly fishing. This is a topic I have been obsessing over because of how important is to my fly fishing experiences, and the ways I plan to maintain and even improve my balance as I age.

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Category: Body-Mind-Soul, Casting

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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