Fly casting is an art form. Most of us do a whole lot more casting than actually fishing. Though you don’t have to have a textbook delivery, as long as the flies are in the right place and presented well, a fish doesn’t care how they got there. However, if you like to test you casting skills and you find yourself on the West Coast this fly traveling season, plan a trip to Oregon’s Deschutes River and try out the amazing fly casting course Orvis has developed in Bend.
“Bend is home to the first-of-its-kind 18-hole fly-casting course in North America, put together by the folks at Orvis and the Old Mill District,” says Marie Melsheimer, public relations manager for the Old Mill District. “This 18-hole, golf-style course focuses on developing the hand-eye coordination necessary to get a fly on target consistently when fishing lakes, rivers, brooks and streams.”
If you’ve never seen this course featured on one of the many fly fishing shows on television, it’s pretty cool with all sorts of casting challenges. Each of the 18 holes is named after a given fishing situation exemplifying its unique challenges. Some holes require roll casts, some distance hauls, but all require a level of accuracy and provide fun while improving your casting. They are named and fashioned after real fishing spots in the area, and each builds specific fishing skills.
Much like a golf course, there are three levels of difficulty for each hole. You’ll pick from beginner, intermediate and advanced, much like blues, whites and reds for the ladies on the links. The instructional placard provides easy guidance for players on how a pro caster might play the “hole.”
“We typically host a National Fly Fishing Casting Competion on the course when the top casters are in town for the annual national fly tournement,” said Orvis store fishing manager Tye Krueger. “It has been highly successful event the past couple of years. We also hold corporate in-store clinics on the course, free Orvis Fly Fishing 101 Classes in the summer and local clubs come out at the end of each month and we host mini tournements. Overall, its really nice to be able to test and hone your skills just 50 feet out in front of the store.”
Located in the Old Mill District in Bend, the course winds around the banks of the Deschutes River, and is free and open to the public. Best of all, it’s open all year, so anglers can keep their skills sharp to catch the next record catch. Make a trip to check out this fly casting course, but bring you’re “A” game too because the Deschutes is a fly fishing destination in itself.