March 30th, 2009

Same Old Thing; Basics
By James Castwell


I hate to pound on some things but when I repeatedly see wrong, absolutely incorrect information being given out, I just have to occasionally try to put it right. Here I go on casting again. I know you old timers may start to scan down the page right now to see if there are any words in bold or italics. Sorry, if you think you know all you need to know about single handed fly rod casting move on to the humor section or the bulletin board.

For the rest of you, 'Stop the rod'. What does that translate for you? I mean, really. Answer the question out loud. What does it mean to stop the rod? Say it. Alright, I dare you. Say it out loud.

"STOP THE FRIGGIN ROD!"

Now was that so tough? It simply means that when you make a cast, forward or back, you should stop the rod. Now I will not yell this time. I will use my little voice. Less effort. Less effort. Just make the tip of the rod do it. Easy now. Easy, just the rod tip. Make the cast quiet. Very quiet. (I am whispering now) Gently. Make each cast count. Never make any casts mindlessly, or you will become a mindless fly caster.

There now. Stop the rod at the end of each cast. Just gently squeeze the grip as you stop your rod. Make the tip flip in the direction of the cast. The line will go where ever you have it pointed. Now you want to let out about ten feet of fly line. Ok, Notice how you must wait just a bit longer for it to roll out? See that? The line needs to become almost straight before you start it the other way. Nice and easy now. Gently. Gently. Gently. Stop the rod on each and every cast.

Now there you have it. One of the little tiny things that so many can not grasp. Why not? Because they have been told by instructors NOT TO STOP THE ROD. Hard to figure isn't it. For whatever reason, folks have been for years teaching guys just the opposite of how to cast and then telling them that they will get better if they just practice. Practice what? Doing it wrong?

My wife and I have been fortunate for a number of years to be in a position to help some improve their casting and others to learn how to cast right from the beginning. The easiest to teach are ladies. Why? Usually they have never cast before. No bad habits. For instance this situation has happened way too many times to count.

A husband has been fly fishing a few years and now he wants his wife to share in the fun. He realizes their marriage would not survive him teaching her to drive the car or cast a fly rod. Wisely he seeks assistance. Starting her with the basic cast, stopping the rod with her biceps muscle in each direction, keeping her casting hand no higher than her shoulder, never making a cast that was not intentionally performed. Never aimless, less she become an aimless caster.

Him; that's a different story. Lots of old habits; bad ones. Instead of breaking them it is often easier to 'over-write' them. I put the rod in his left hand (assuming of course he has been casting right handed) and teach him the basics, slowly, one step at a time. Then I have him put the rod in his right hand, and one element of the cast at a time, just one, have him out, loud teach himself to cast right-handed. It works, usually in two or three minutes total time.

Never become automatic. Cast each cast. Analyze it; each part of it. Tear it to pieces. Little pieces. Each element of the stroke. Then tear it down further. Teach yourself how to stop the rod.

When you were a little guy and had your first encounter with a board and a hammer, remember what you did? Honest now. You swung the hammer and did what? Did you stop the hammer? Hell no. You smacked the crap out of the board or your thumb. You expected the board was going to stop the hammer. And it did; every time. Later you discovered nails. Now armed with a destruction devise, if you were anywhere near normal, you attempted to drive the nail, regardless of length or size, all the way into the board with one shot. Stop the hammer? Not likely. Over time you found that you could always depend on the nail to stop the hammer. Now some guy tells you to cast just like that. What? Nothing could screw you up more. You do not cast a fly rod like a hammer.

A fly-swatter maybe. Just maybe like a fly-swatter. Actually, I often use that example. The way you flick a fly-swatter so the end of it snaps forward and does it's job. You don't kill a bug on a wall with a baseball bat; makes a huge splotch. You use a fly-swatter; done right it will not leave a mark, but kills the bug.

So my friends, there you have it once again. Stop the rod (it's what makes the line go). Gently-Bentley, less effort, nice and quiet. Never cast aimlessly. And oh yes, keep your back-cast up.

Really. ~ James Castwell

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Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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