May 22nd, 2006

Casting Handcuffed
By James Castwell

Think about the motion of using an axe. A real one, two bladed, solid, requiring strong hands. Both of them together, right hand over the left. Same grip as if you are batting a ball right-handed. Powerful action, strong grips, effective for many things, even pitching or lobbing a heavy bait with a big spinning rod. Works well out into the surf too. But not for fly casting.

And yet it is probably the most often used grip, or one very similar to it by those starting out with a fly rod. Especially if they were accustomed to using a spinning rod before.

We used to camp a lot years ago when we trout fished back in Michigan. One of the guys with us was well over six feet and when Robert wound up with those long arms of his the axe was just a blur on it's way to that poor hunk of firewood. Nothing could make fly casting fail faster than that type of swing. The only thing that stopped his axe was the log. Not so with a fly cast. You must do the job. You have to stop the rod.

The second part of the axe swing is that you have both hands together or almost so. Now I know some authors say to keep your hands rather close together when double-hauling (DH), but remember, the DH is a long way off for the guy just starting out casting. And they are just trying to keep you from tangling the fly line while you're casting.

What most do is 'handcuff' themselves. By that I mean, they pull out some line, make a cast or so, the line goes out the rod and now there is only six or eight inches of line between the reel and the left hand. The left hand must follow the rod as it is cast, it's virtually tied to it. Probably one of the worst habits you could form. Eventually the DH will come along and you will need some slack between your reel and the left hand to do it. You need it so you can shoot line too on the next cast. You need it so you can make all kinds of changes in your presentation of the fly. Point is, you need it.

So, make sure you have at least a large loop of fly line from the reel to your left hand, at least enough to almost touch the ground or the water if you're wading. Think of it as a control loop, necessary for better presentation. Throw off the handcuffs and improve your fishing right from the start. Form this small habit and make it a permanent part of your casting. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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