Casting can be as important as you want it to be. If you are happy with how
you cast and what you are able to accomplish, this article may be a waste
of your time.
The fact is, your casting may make the difference between catching or not.
It is true, most fish are caught within 30 feet or less of the anglers. I could
get into a number of reasons for that, but if we accept that as fact, being able
to cast well and accurately is as important as knowing what the insects are
and when they are available. It may be more important.
I've quoted Joan Wulff before, but her phase is, "If you know where the fish
are and can't reach them you're out of the ball game." If you know all the
insects, when and where they hatch, and can't get your fly where they are - you're
out of the ball game.
There are several methods of casting. Differences in the stroke, speed, arc,
and where the rod is 'stopped' make up some of those differences. A very
short cast (shown on the left) requires a shorter stroke (perhaps with just a
little wrist motion) and shorter arc - the distance the tip of the rod travels
between the forward and backcast. For absolute accuracy, the caster
also makes the short forward cast with their thumb directly between their
eyes. Giving that a little visualization, it becomes pretty obvious you can't
make a very long cast that way, but it is deadly for short casts. On short
casts there is hardly any arm or shoulder movement.
The look of the cast changes as longer casts are used. The length of the stroke
is longer, the arc is wider. The wrist is now firm, and the arm moves forward
and back like a piston. On the longest casts, the rod may be extended nearly
horizontal on the backcast after the stop. Here the shoulder rolls back to allow
the arm extension behind the body.
Take a dozen excellent casters and none of them will look identical casting the
same distance! We each develop a method that works for us - and is adaptable
to different conditions.
There is more. How fast or slow the casting stroke needs to be depends on the
rod too! That is where the word 'adaptable' come in. The more experienced
one is as a caster, the easier it is to adapt to changing conditions (wind) and
Castwell did a column last week about
teaching a gentleman who was accustomed to casting cane rods. He had never
cast a graphite rod. He learned to adapt his casting. He learned well and fast.
Let's take that in reverse. If you've been casting graphite rods forever and want
to cast a cane rod what would be different? Let's add fiberglass too. The early
fiberglass rods were made to imitate the action of the bamboo rods popular at
the time! Why not? That is what folks were using. No one at the time was
thinking about 'improving' the action of cane rods. Most of the great cane
tapers had already been designed.
A word you may not have heard a lot is 'stroke.' Graphite rods are considered
'fast,' and the words one hears associated with them is 'punch' - the faster the
rod, the less stroke used in casting them. A stroke is still the forward and back
motion of the cast, but it is slower and smoother than the 'normal' cast used
with graphite rods.
In slowing down the cast, it is easy to let the stroke become rounded instead
of a nice straight line. The casting stroke could be visualized by thinking of
your flyrod as a very long felt marker which you use to mark a line on the
ceiling. It's easier to do that fast than slow. But it is important to keep the
line of the stroke straight. Not doing so will cause the line on the ceiling to have
misses. It also causes fly line to puddle in front at the end of the cast or cause
tailing loops. The flyline goes exactly where you point the rod.
All fly rods, regardless of cost or type of material are designed to deliver the fly
line. The manufacturer (or maker) cannot predict your personal casting ability
or style. You may cast several rods before you find one that 'feels good' - it
fits your casting methods and style. It may however not be the most efficient
rod for your purposes. Meaning you may have to work harder to get the rod
to do what you need to do.
Improving your casting skills has a lot of payoffs. You may find the rod(s) you've
been using are causing stress on your elbow, shoulder and wrist. I keep hearing
about readers with wrist problems, rotator cup problems, tennis elbow and while
they may have been caused by other problems, their fishing is affected. Perhaps
improved casting skills would solve at least some of the problems. You might also
find it 'necessary' to purchase a new rod!
Fly casting should be fun. It should be 'natural' and not work. If it isn't, it is time to fix it.
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!