This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 24th, 2002

Get A Bigger Hammer

Last time we talked about casting - and how to increase line speed. Line speed is important for distance casting - or casting into the wind, or curve cast, tuck cast, recoil cast; face it, control of line speed is critical, period.

I mentioned one the things we should be looking at is our loops. That is, the shape of the line as your cast is going out - and when it gets there. It's pretty well accepted that a 'tight' loop, (which looks like a candy cane on it's side) is what is usually needed for distance or casting into the wind. The big open loop, (which looks like a big letter 'C') has it's place as well, especially if you are trying to make a gentle presentation of a dry fly on a short cast.

There is another shape. It's a wedge. On this one, the candy cane doesn't have a curve - it has a point!

Why do we need it? The point has less wind resistance than the curve.

So how do we get this wedge shape?

Go back to the basics of the double haul. A short tug with your non-rod hand on the line produces a tight loop. A long pull produces a big loop. How can we get something else?

One of the advantages of using the double haul is to divide the work of casting between both hands. And let's face it, most of us don't have the physical strength to produce the kind of energy on our cast to get the speed produced by using both hands (the double haul).

It's going to take both the casting hand and the line hand to produce the wedge. This is one you are going to have to try, test and work on yourself to find that sweet spot which produces the wedge for you. It isn't just strength on this, it is strength and timing.

The length of the pull and force used with your line hand needs to be matched by the power in the stroke of your forward cast. It is the combination of BOTH which produces the wedge.

There are some teaching who demand the rod stop in a specific place, or that the butt of the rod is snug against your wrist on the forward and backcast. I start out with the butt against my wrist, but as the cast lengthens, (since my shoulder stops the movement) my wrist bends toward the back and there is a substantial space between my wrist and the rod butt. As the cast speeds up coming forward, there is a hammer-type movement at the very end, (STOP) of the rod. How hard you 'hit' with the hammer produces the wedge.

For the gals, a better mental picture is using a fly swatter. Same motion, same stroke, except imagine a very big, nasty bug. Then kill it. The tip of the rod is the hammer or fly swatter.

The trick is to balance the 'hit' with the pull on the line hand. Too much and you will produce a tailing loop. Too little, a big open loop.

Combine the hammer with line speed and you have a winner!

Remember, you are not casting the rod, it's a lever to help you cast the line. It helps you generate line speed and good line speed produces the wedge.

Learn line control and all the rest will follow. ~ LadyFisher

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