February 9th, 2004

Two Ways to Cast
By James Castwell


Yup, two. You can sling the line (rod) or you can snap it. Envision a stick about six feet long with thirty feet of clothes-line tied to the tip. You swing the stick hard enough and the line will follow wherever the end of the stick goes. Make circles, big or small, and the line will do the same thing. Swing it from behind you to in front and the line will go where you have it pointed. I suppose this is a form of casting, I see it done most of the time when guys are trying to cast over sixty feet. Mostly you are waving the rod. There is no stop intended. A bit like a gymnastic event with ribbons that young girls perform.

The other way is like a fly-swatter. Not many of us try to smash a fly with it, we stop the swatter just short of the wall and the top part snaps forward and does the deed. The harder you stop the bigger the spot on the wall, so to speak.

These two principles are often mixed into one cast. But, not at first. A beginner will often start out with the sling method, and just as often attain some small degree of success for a time. Certainly long enough to get on the water and get his feet wet in our sport. And this is alright, if the line goes out in front, that for a time is success. One simply needs to get rather close to his quarry.

If you are so inclined, try this sometime. Lay out sixty feet or so of fly line behind you on a lawn. Get it nice and straight, walk down to the fly end and pull on it until it is nearly perfect. Go back and carefully pick up your rod but keep the rod pointed back at the fly, no slack, none at all. Now, with your back to the fly, carefully raise the rod, keeping the line nice and tight, and make a hard forward cast. There, you have now cast sixty feet or thereabouts.

What was needed here was a great back-cast with no slack. We did that by hand, but so what. How else are you going to learn the value of a great back-cast when you start out. Remember, when you first start out, if the line ends up in front of you somewhere, you did at least something right. You didn't do anything wrong, you just didn't do enough things right to make the cast even better. To be sure, if the cast landed behind you, indeed, you really did something wrong. This is the sling method.

Now if you had come to a hard stop at about sixty degrees with the rod, the line may have gone even farther. In fact, that would be the snap (fly-swatter) method. Now before I get accused of coming up with yet another name for stopping the casting stroke, I am not. I used that word to differentiate it from the sling.

To snap a cast, you do just that. But it only works if the 'stick' (rod?) is flexible. The end of the stick must be able to flip (snap) forward when it comes to a hard stop (fly-swatter). The additional movement helps propel the line even faster and farther. And the harder you stop the rod the farther the line goes.

Eventually you can help the whole thing along by getting the line up to higher speed with your off-hand (double-haul) and either sling or snap the cast. Slinging and the 'DH' can produce very long casts, but, not as long as the snap and the DH. First things first. Make sure you can do both the snap and the sling and know the difference between them. Then advance at whatever speed you need for where you fish. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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