When I end my forward cast by stopping the rod just above a
horizontal line and pinch the fly line with the fingers of my left
hand, the cast stops straight out and the whole works drops
flat to the water; the fly, leader and line all landing at the same
time. It is one of many types of presentation. Actually, usually
not a very good one, as a dry fly would drag almost immediately.
An improvement on this might be when I stop the rod a little
sharper. This can cause a tiny recoil of the line, which often is
very good. It causes several small zig-zags in the line as it lands
on the water. Recoil cast is what it is and 'controlled slack' is
what it produces. And as a person gets better at fly fishing he
learns just how important 'controlled' slack is.
It's this resultant controlled slack which allows a dry fly
to rest motionless, without any tell-tale drag as the currant
plays with the fly line. There are other ways to control slack
on the forward cast too. The 'S' cast some call it, and others
might call it a 'snake cast'. It is done by doing a few quick
wiggles with the rod tip right after the forward stop, just after
the line has straightened out but not yet dropped to the surface.
It seems that each new fly fishing writer dreams up his own set
of names for these casts.
Another one is what I have called 'a terrible forward cast.' It is,
really. It is the one you did back when you first started out and
knew nothing about casting a fly rod. The one where you simply
wave the rod forward, a huge circle, no stop at all. Almost dunk
your rod tip in the water. This makes a great big pile of line
between you and your fly, just like it used to. Except this time
you are dumping all of that 'controlled slack' on a strip of fast
water between you and a fish just on the far side of the riffle.
It takes time for the water to work your fly line down the stream,
meanwhile allowing your dry fly to float motionless for a brief period;
hopefully, long enough for a fish to take it.
If you haven't played with these casts before, you might have
handicapped yourself. There are many variations of these three
too. Each one can be done to the required degree for each unique
situation. Learn how to do them in as many ways as you can.
'Controlled slack' is just one of the many parts of line control
necessary for improving your time on the water and your day
a field. While it's agreed that distance can be important, accuracy
can be, presentation can be, and how your pick your line up from
the water can be, how you retrieve the fly line is, one of the most
important elements of fly casting remains controlling your slack.
This year decide to make progress in your casting. Learn these
casts and practice them. Practice your loop formations while you
are out there too. Front and back. Practice making them both big
and narrow and be able to change them on demand. The more line
control you have, the better you will be at fly fishing and the more
great big fishies you will get. Controlling you slack is just one of the
many parts. ~ James Castwell