When I first started fly casting as a teenager, my uncle and I would head out the the grassy fields near his house and practice casting. I hadn't caught a fish on a fly at the time and it was just what I needed to get started with the sport. Since then, well... all I do is fish. Subsequently, my casting isn't always perfect. To make matters even worse, a lot of the time I'm fishing with split shot, a bobber, and multiple flies. As you can imagine (or know) casting with that garbage on the end of your line makes for some pretty ugly casting.
Last year I started practicing casting a little more frequently. George Revel, the owner of Lost Coast Outfitters hosted bi-monthly casting events at the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club in Golden Gate Park. George always gave a short little tutorial and then there was plenty of time to practice new concepts and connect with like-minded people interested in fly fishing. Since those events last summer, I've gone to the casting ponds a little more frequently. My casting has improved a bit and in turn, my fishing has too. I'm able to roll cast all that garbage a lot more smoothly and can present a fly with more accuracy and stealth. Good casting usually means better fishing right?
Although I'd much rather be out on the river fishing, taking some time to practice casting is going to become a more regular part of my routine. I've been able to incorporate a few new casts into my bag of tricks while at the ponds. It's the prefect way to test things out in a low stakes environment. You're not spooking 20' browns or fat carp while trying new casts. You can play around, get creative, and create serious distance. If you haven't done so recently, get out there and put in some practice. It'll pay off!