Stay On Target
Nerdy fans of the old Stars Wars may get the reference, but whether you do or not, all fly fishers can benefit by remembering to stay on target.
One of the most common flaws among nearly all fly casters, young and old, is that they occasionally stray from proper tracking in their casting. Tracking refers to the path that the tip of the fly rod travels during the casting stroke. Much emphasis is placed on timing and correct form looking at the cast from the side. Ever hear "10 and 2" mentioned when referring to casting? Of course, we all have. However, tracking is just as important in getting your fly to the desired location. Tracking is determined by watching the rod tip path from directly in front of the caster or from behind; watching from directly above would be even better if you can figure that out.
Remember that the fly line follows the path that the rod tip travels, no matter what. So when you are out casting make sure that you focus on the rod tip path tracking straight. The most common error in tracking occurs when the caster rotates the trunk of their body in the cast or casts around their body. From above the rod tip path would curve around the body. This tracking error frequently occurs on the backcast as the rod tip inadvertently drifts towards the body. This also often results from applying just a little too much power and having large muscle groups in the upper body contract and pull the rod towards the body on the forward cast. For a righty this results in missing to the left quite often and for a lefty it results in misses to the right. You can correct this error by maintaining a perfectly still torso with shoulders square to the target during your cast and focusing on applying just the right amount of power to the forward stroke.
Several other tracking errors can also occur for numerous reasons. It is best to simply remember that in fly casting less is nearly always more. Keep your body still. Don't rock or twist and think about the tip of the rod traveling in a straight line back and forward. Casting at targets while thinking about staying still and thinking about proper tracking is a great way to correct these errors through practice.
Star Wars applies to life yet again. Simply stay on target.