Casting is one of the most enjoyable aspects of fly-fishing - when it's
going well. But it doesn't always go well. Sometimes it goes so badly the
angler starts thinking about snapping the rod over his or her knee. Even
experienced casters occasionally struggle to cast as far, as accurately
and as smoothly as they would like.
cast is especially likely to go haywire when you're tired, frustrated or
anxious. You may have internalized all the good casting advice and
instruction you have picked up over the years, only to see it all swamped
in challenging circumstances. If you're relatively new to fly-fishing,
your good technique can evaporate that much more quickly - especially if
the fish are taunting you and the day has been long.
things go like this, it's a good idea to stop fishing, take a breather
and remind yourself of some of the basics of casting. Some of these
fundamentals have been translated into simple lessons for beginners, many
of which start with the word "pretend" - and all of which can
be useful to remember, even for anglers who haven't been beginners in a
· The Apple-and-Stick. Pretend you
have a 12-inch stick with an apple stuck on the top, and you want to
throw the apple off the stick. The acceleration and stop of a good
forward cast requires much the same movements. Remember to make a good,
crisp stop with the rod tip high, and enjoy watching your line unfurl
toward the target.
· The Paintbrush. Pretend you're
holding a paintbrush freshly dipped in paint and you want to throw the
paint in front of you. (Whoever thought of this one may have been a
Jackson Pollack fan.) You hold on to the paint as long as you can before
the final, forward flick. Much like the apple analogy, this one
illustrates the value of a firm stop. But it also - almost subconsciously
- reminds your casting hand to maintain a smooth momentum throughout the
cast, right up to the stop. If your hand slows down toward the end of the
stroke, your casting energy will fizzle.
· The Wall. Pretend the back of
your casting hand is rubbing along a wall that's parallel to your cast.
This exercise can be surprisingly helpful. Sometimes, without realizing
it, an angler develops a curve in his or her cast. (If you suspect this
might be you, record a few minutes of casting on video. You'll see it.)
The curve interferes with the rod's ability to pull the line forward. The
wall exercise re-trains your arm to move the rod in a straight line from
back to front. That pulls the line more efficiently, with energy
transmitted from the rod tip right through to the fly. A straight
back-to-forward pull, with a smooth acceleration and a sharp stop high on
the forward cast, will usually send your fly true to its target.
· 10 and 2. Everybody knows this
one. The 2 is more important than the 10 - it reminds you not to go too
low on your backcast. It's not as big an issue on the forward cast
because the forward cast is easier to watch.
· Don't Use So Much Force, Luke.
Casting instructors say the No. 1 casting flaw is overpowering. It's a
natural impulse to push harder when you need the line to go farther, or
when you're excited by the presence of feeding fish and rush to get a fly
in front of them. But too much force will degrade your cast. Casting with
a decidedly light touch can make an amazing difference. As they say, let
the rod and line do the work. Both are products of decades of fly-fishing
experience, meticulously designed for top performance. Use a light touch
so you can take advantage of that design expertise.
the most important advice for good casting is to keep your cool. Again,
it is natural to hurry up when you see a fish rise or roll. Desperation
can creep into your casting when you know you're reaching feeding fish
but they won't bite. And spending hours on end with nothing to show for
it can induce fatigue that shows up in your casting. Sometimes the best
thing to do is to reel in, sit down and rest both your pool and your arm.
Remind yourself of some of the basics you learned when you were first
starting out. When you do rise and get back in casting position, you may
find your casts more enjoyable, more accurate and, with any luck, more
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Spend a day learning the most advanced
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