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How Boxing Is Like Fly Fishing

by Ann Bailey


  • The perfect cast, like the perfect punch, starts with your feet. Both boxing and fishing appear to be a lot about what your hands are doing. In boxing, you’re focused on punching and maintaining good cover. In fly fishing, you’re working on the best cast for the situation. But like boxing, fly fishing (especially off a river bank) requires a lot of awareness of what your feet are doing in order to generate the force that will send your line out into the ideal spot. Good footwork will also help you to stay vertical as you navigate the slippery rocks and currents in the river. I learned that lesson the hard way and got soaked!
  • It’s a lot of training for a very short burst of intense action. Boxing training can be meditative in the sense that much of it is repetition and practice of the same few moves. Boxers work on their jab with the heavy bag the same way fly fisherman work on their cast. For amateur boxers, all of this training culminates in 3 short rounds of action.  In fly fishing, you might spend a day casting on the river and have only one fish bite on the line. That’s your big match. You have to be ready to go for it!
  • Engage your back plane. What does it mean to have your punches come from your back plane? It means the larger muscles of your back are engaged and generating force, preventing the punch from being a dreaded “arm punch” that only come from the shoulder. Your pectoral muscles also play a role in keeping your back plane engaged by spreading out into a strong line that keeps the shoulders from lurching forward. This same muscle alignment is used in proper fly fishing casting…or, for that matter, any time your reach forward for something. Cappy’s Life Coaching program has great drills for developing this kind of body awareness.
  • In both boxing and fishing, you start out thinking it’s about defeating something outside of yourself…and I’ve found in both cases you come to realize it is about knowing something more about yourself.
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