A Humbled Flyfisher with Mac Brown Fly Fish

Lila Warren // October 19

Flyfishing is not just a hobby for me. It is a lifestyle, state of mind, and my happy place. I have been fishing since I was big enough to grip a cane pole. I started spin fishing with a Snoopy-themed Zebco soon after that and then graduated to a Mitchell 300 reel that I used through high school. In my first year in college, I signed up for a free full-day flyfishing class offered through the local fly shop. That day, nearly 18 years ago, I fell in love with flyfishing. My parents got me my first flyrod and reel for my birthday that year. And, I’ve been in a complicated relationship with the sport ever since. 

Flyfishing with MacBrown Fly Fish

I’ve grown a lot as an angler since that day. I have worked as a casting instructor and flyfishing guide, rowed rafts and drift boats for clients, and traveled all over the United States and internationally in pursuit of trophy and sometimes obscure fish species. I am a lifetime learner and firmly believe that we can never truly master any one topic or sport, for there is always something new to learn. I would have considered myself an advanced fly angler until 3 weeks ago.


In September, my husband, Tyler, and I attended an Advanced Fly Casting Techniques workshop in Bryson City, NC under the instruction of Mac Brown. We signed up for this course with the ultimate goals of becoming better anglers and more efficient casters, catching more fish on our own trips, and one day achieving our Casting Instructor Certification through Fly Fishers International

First, I must say that Mac Brown is a master of his craft. He's an excellent and charismatic instructor with a larger-than-life personality. I participated fully in the weekend as a sponge, soaking up any and all information that I could in the time we spent at the casting school. 

Mac teaches a grip and casting style that is more modern and scientifically backed to be more efficient, to send casts further, and to present flies better. However, his three-point grip with a 12-11 cast is very different from the traditional thumb-on-top grip with a 10-2 cast that many of us grew up learning, practicing, and using for our entire flyfishing lives.

The techniques he teaches translate well into all casting forms and styles including the traditional full cast, the roll cast, the single and double-haul, and other more advanced casts that have nuanced presentations. My attempts to coax my brain into ignoring 18 years of muscle memory and put into practice these new techniques have had mixed outcomes. Sometimes, I am successful and send a well-executed cast with the new-and-improved form that any sage fish would be duped by! Other times, I produce an incorrect pile of line and a presentation that would terrify even the most naïve fish. 

Flyfishing Lessons Learned

Throughout the course, Mac reminded us that if, when we practice, we can produce one more good cast and one fewer poor cast each time, then we are headed in the right direction. I am so grateful for these words of wisdom in my flycasting practice. I arrived at the Advanced Fly Casting course excited and even a little nervous. I learned a TON, and I left humbled but motivated to be better. Although I have a long way to go to re-learning and transforming my flycast, I am still highly motivated by the goal of being a better caster and fisher. I love that flyfishing, a sport I hold so dear and have been practicing for the majority of my life, continues to teach me new lessons, humble me, and bring me joy when I throw that one more good cast.  

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About the Author

Lila Warren