October 19th, 1998
It's funny how sometimes very little
things can make such a big difference. I recently
had the opportunity to 'help, coach, check-out, etc'
my friend Ray with his fly casting. There were a
few folks with us as well; Al and Kate from my
local ISP, my wife and Rays wife, Carla. Enough to
'put a little pressure' on him. Good test. We went
out into the street in front of our home here and
as we have very little traffic it was not a problem.
I took a six-weight rod and line that is used only
for casting practice in the street. It gets pretty
messed up with the oil, but I clean it often.
Till next week, remember ...
A light breeze was up and it
was a fine time to see what could be done. Facing
into the wind, Ray took a few casts to warm up.
Most were in the range of sixty to seventy feet
and were close to perfect. His wife commented to me
about how wonderfully he could cast and she seemed
to be right. The style was one of crisp, tight,
well-defined control. It was a bit like a good
dry fly caster using a longer line. And that is
what can bring about problems.
But, he didn't seem to have
any problems. With power and control Ray could
form perfect loops in front and in back, using a
double-haul on all line lengths. It seemed to
me he might have been a bit too tight, too compact,
trying a bit too hard. The line would be held to
about fifty feet and then shot to as far as the
cast would carry. All was well. His timing on
the double-haul was 'bang-on.' Not too soon, not
too late. But, I kept watching, as he wanted me
to do, until something might show up.
After about fifteen minutes
he was 'pitching' the rig for all he was worth.
I should mention here, Ray is from the east coast
where he fishes a very long line in the salt-chuck
for sea-run fish. He wanted me to see if his
long-line casting was about as good as it could be.
His stance never changed; always the right foot about
twelve inches to the back. A nice shoulder roll
(but, not too much) into the back cast,
and a fine pull and stroke into the front cast. He
knew how to control the shape of his loops by varying
the length of his double-haul pull. Still, there
was always a bit of fly line left between the reel
and the stripping guide at the end of the cast..
Ray wanted the whole ninety feet of fly line to exit
By this time, so did the
'cheering-section,' who were in attendance. The
'flaw' finally did show itself. Here I must say
that it was so small so as to go undetected for
many casts; but luckily I did spot it and explained
it to him.
As Ray would let out even more
fly line he did not change the timing of his
double-haul pull. A small thing, but, critical to
accomplish what he was after. In the shorter
distances, his pull was timed to load the rod
just before the rod became vertical. The rod
had the power to take the pull and deliver the
line forward. By maintaining the exact same
timing with the longer fly line he was a bit
'collapsing' the rod on the forward cast.
The 'fix,' if you can call
it that, was to start the pull of the double-haul
a bit sooner. This increased the line speed while
the rod was only starting to load. The resulting
combination allowed the rod to 'load' deeper, more
in the middle, not so far toward the tip. This slight
change in timing added about fifteen feet to his
A note here. His style was so
ingrained from so many years of fly casting he had
trouble changing his stroke to the earlier timing
pull. When I had him move his right foot up even
with his left, it changed his mental picture, and
he was able to change his timing. After which, he
then moved his right foot back a bit. The final
suggestion was to practice casting so it looked
'pretty.' I call it 'show-casting.' It is a very
controlled, very smooth, very fluid style. It makes
long-line fly casting look very easy. And when done
that way, it really is.
Kinda like telling a good
story; it's all in the timing. ~ JC