The Woody Hayes Rule of Casting

CoverLegendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes once explained why he closely embraced the “three yards and a cloud of dust” offensive philosophy this way: “When you put the ball in the air, three things can happen, and two of them are bad.” Whether or not the coach actually said those words (the quote has also been attributed to Duffy Daugherty and others), it got me thinking about the obvious correlation with fly casting. While beautiful long loops might be pleasing to watch, they usually don’t do a lot for you on the trout stream. False casts spook fish. And all casts have the potential of developing line-weakening wind knots, which occur when an angler cannot control his line. Why not let the current do the work instead? Let the water stretch the line behind you. Lift your rod tip high, pause, then unfurl a pinpoint cast by directing the rod tip where you want your fly to land. The angler who learns how to roll cast, improvises with short mends, adjusts the fly line with the help of the current, and learns to let the water help him set up the next cast is going to be much better off than the one who tries to throw a Hail Mary on every play. While you might not beat that school up north every time you play, you’ll commit fewer turnovers, and win your fair share of games. —K.D.