Fly Fishing & Mental Health #6: The Therapeutic Effect of Casting

Fly Fishing & Mental Health #6: 

The Therapeutic Effect of Casting

(read: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4; Part 5)

by: Cari Ray (Fisher of Zen)

The therapeutic aspects of fly fishing are well documented at this point. A couple of the most widest known examples of its application are the retreats and mentoring offered by organizations like Casting for Recovery, Reel Recovery, and Project Healing Waters. If you haven’t checked out those organizations, please do so. Consider supporting them financially or with your time. 

Bring up any of those organizations to fellow anglers and they’ll say things like “yeah, that’s so awesome,” or, “I think it’s great how they help those people.” Yes, it is. And if you own, or can borrow, a fly rod, you have access to that very same support. Excuse the wordplay, but it’s just a cast away. 

The activities associated with fly fishing offer ample balm for body, mind, and soul…wading, fishing, spending time in nature. But they are all, I wager, eclipsed by the moving meditation that is fly casting. The motion, the rhythm, the flow… the fact that when one is focused and connected with the cast, everything else effectively disappears. 

You don’t have to wait until you go fishing to tap into that zen. In fact, it would likely help your angling game as well as your mental state if you didn’t wait. Casting, to me, is almost its own pursuit. Even before I was training to become an FFI Certified Casting Instructor, I kept a reel spooled up with some “lawn line.” Not just to practice a particular casting style in preparation for a planned trip, or to work on casting in windy conditions, but as a stress-reliever. 

And now that so many of us work remotely, it becomes possible to access this support just about any time. Look at it like a modern-day “smoke break,” only without the health risks. If it’s not something you’ve done before, it might feel a little strange at first to stand on the lawn making casts. And if you do it in public, it can take a little time to get used to the occasionally annoying but good natured “Hey there, you’d have better luck if you cast that into the water,” or “Um, you know there’s no fish there, right?!?” But I promise you, it’s totally worth it, and learning to chuckle along with the peanut gallery is its own zen practice.

Cari Ray has worn many hats. Her primary vocation for years was as a performing singer/songwriter touring nationally solo and with percussionist, Dionne Ward, as “Cari Ray & The Shaky Legs.” While no longer her sole focus, music is still happening. More info on that can be found over at

You can add to that resume graphic designer, creative director, successful entrepreneur, marketing/business consultant, photographer and writer. If there isn’t a guitar in her hand, there’s likely a fly rod. She lives in the Texas Hill Country just west of Austin. And while Hill Country Rivers are her home waters, she can often be found traveling the contiguous US hiking into backcountry parts unknown to chase wild, native fish on the fly. And then telling the tale right here on Fisher of Zen.

You can find more from Cari Ray at


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