May 8th, 2006

You Are Just Starting
By James Castwell

I will assume you have been out in the yard casting. At this point, one might be generous calling it casting, but we will anyhow. You may have not bothered with the 'yard thing' but after that episode on the water the other day you have now resorted to a little time on the turf. This fly casting looks so darn easy when you see someone, anyone else do it. So, what the heck is wrong? Why does yours look so much 'different.'

I will make another assumption. You are trying to cast, like it looks like the other guys are casting. Makes sense. But, it might be one of those ideas that is good, just happens to be wrong. The human seems doomed to want to wave a fly rod. I don't know, maybe it was started when mommy took us to a parade when we were three. There we toddled, waving that tiny little flag. When you leave someplace, you wave good-by. Someone leaves, you wave at them. Waving is drummed into us from an early age and from every angle.

But, once again, it is I, the great J. Castwell to the rescue with some more brilliance. Annoying as it might be, this might be of benefit to your fledgling flapping's. Even more so if you have had a less than gratifying experience lately with casting. You make a big swing, a wave, (a cast?), and not much happens. The rod forms a circle in the air and your line follows the tip and mostly piles up in a gobby heap out in front of you. The acid test of this maneuver is that...if you do it harder... it gets worse. If possible.

Do this instead. Do not string up the rod. Yes, of course, put the sections together with the reel on it. Just leave the line dangle. Hold the cork fiercely, grip it with all you have. Now, relax your grip and never do that again. It doesn't work. But, you have had the fun of doing it one last time. Using now a normal (comfortable?) grip, thumb on top, the remaining fingers clutching the bottom of the cork, notice how nice it feels that way. Nice. Comfortable. Relaxed. That is how it is supposed to be. Get the point yet? This is going to continue to be fun, pleasant, exciting, rewarding. And you are going to learn something. Actually you will be teaching yourself, but that is another matter.

Point your 'new best friend' out in front of you taking care not to injure yourself, others or bust something. Once satisfied that you and it are safe, proceed to step two. Look for the little thing the line goes through right toward you from the tippy-top. That is a guide. You have several, all on the same side of the rod. They should be hanging down at this point. If not and you have the reel on, refer to page 117 to correct that. Next, 'wiggle' the rod. No, not the whole rod. I want you to very carefully jiggle, wiggle, flip, jig, whatever, but make just the end of the rod flip, jump, wiggle, whatever. Serious here. Just about a foot of rod. Keep at this until you can make just the end move; back to about the second guide.

Step three. Make the rod pop down and back up just once and stop. Don't say "huh," do it. Down once and back up to the starting point and jiggling. Hint here, your thumb will play a major part in all of this. Get so you can do this on command. Make just the tip flex.

Now make the rod flex further back, or down, or toward you, whatever. About in the middle. One shot. Down and back up. Don't quit until you can do it. And repeat it on command. By relaxing your grip you can dampen the rod and keep it from continuing to wiggle. Play with this freshly gained knowledge until it becomes wisdom. In other words, make sure you can and can understand what is happening here. You are making the rod do what you want it to. Good, Now we can move on. On to the lawn. String the rod up and pull about fifteen or so feet of fly line. If you don't nave a leader on it, stop until you at least tie on about eight or nine feet of mono, anything, but you have to have something on it. A little bit of yarn instead of a fly is cute, but not necessary.

Hold the rod straight up in the air, line dangling. Go back to the first step, just making the tip of the rod twitch. Make it twitch hard toward the front. Rather soon after it has done that, twitch it hard toward the back. Remember, you are just twitching the tip, not waving (there is that nasty old word) rod. No, you are not going to cast that way.

Next make the rod flex more toward the middle of the rod. This takes more exertion but will pay handsome rewards if performed correctly. Tie this move with one to the rearward and you have what will look to the average bystander like casting a fly rod. Kewl huh? Really, what we are trying to do here is to get you to make the rod flex. So often we want to wave the rod when just starting out and by now you realize that is not a great idea.

Hope this helps you get a handle on flexing the rod some and you can add it to your casting knowledge. You might even want to pretend the rod is a big 'Fly-Swatter' and you are smacking bugs. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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