August 28th, 2000

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Casting Tips

By Allen Crist (aka flysoup)

As I watched a 'Casting Clinic' I noticed one basic mistake that many fly casters make is what I refer to as a 'Soft Stop,' or a failure to STOP THE ROD'S TRAVEL. I have watched some of the best fly casters, both live demos and on videotapes (one I can slow, pause, and rewind.) I have received lessons from some to the best i.e. the late Joe Brooks, Lefty Kreh, both Borgers, Joan Wulf, and Bill Gamel. I have read books and studied the art of fly-casting. Taken and passed the FFF Instructors course. All of this is in the way of qualifying the following instructions I will call:

Fly Casting Basics

Let's not worry about the new computer designed, super-fibers, weighted fly-lines, graphite rods, super slick SIC guides, making trick casts or double hauling. Remember fly-casting has been around for over 500 years, and the ultra new equipment has only been on the market for less then 25 years. Sure "new" has made it a lot easier to cast 50 or 60 feet with a 6-wt. outfit. It is the basic fly casting stroke that makes it work. I like to say, "It is as easy as flysoup."

What I saw at the clinics was a rainbow of colored fly lines doing something like this:
1. Start the rod moving backward from some where in front. Moving backward to somewhere in back of the caster.

2. Move the rod forward fast till about straight in front.

3. Slowly lower the rod to the grass, or re-preform step 1.

What was missing? The STOPS. The STOP is what transfers the energy from the hand the rod 'STOP' the line causing the loop. The harder or faster you stop the rod the smaller the loop. Both the back-cast and the forward-cast need this stop to transfer the energy of the moving rod, to the dragging line to form the loop of energy that appears to run down the line's length.

This stop requires some muscle training that you can learn by practicing with or without a rod and about anywhere. You can use half a rod or a pencil or just your finger or thumb sticking up. (Depending on which ever grip you use). You might look around to see if anybody is watching you, Move your hand through the basic fly casting stroke. That is:
1) Start with your forearm in front of you parallel to the ground.
Remember this: you can not make a good cast or apply the casting stroke until the end of the fly line is moving.

2) Move your hand up and back to be even with you ear, thumb or finger pointing straight up. STOP your hand by tightening your arm and hand muscles like "freezing" your hand. This is a Back-cast. Note: The elbow has moved up also.

3) PAUSE. This will let the line complete the backward travel before you start the forward cast.
Remember this: The timing of the back-cast is very important. To help you get the timing down. After you stop the rod say "One Mississippi." Then start the rod forward.
Now move your hand in the forward casting stroke until your hand would be just in front of your face, your finger or thumb might be pointing at 11 o'clock.

4) Again STOP your arm' travel with the freezing of your muscles. This is the forward cast.

5) Then drift your arm and elbow down till the rod is parallel to the ground.

6) Repeat the backstroke.

If you do not let the line touch the water or grass on the front cast and go right into a back-cast you are "false casting." We use the false-cast to dry our flies, change direction, and let out more line. Remember this; false casting will tire you out and you have a better chance of tangling you line and leader. Use the false-cast as little as you can when fishing. This is training. So repeat it again and again.

This simple exercise will train your muscles to STOP. If your rod and line are forming rainbows you are not fly-casting. What we are trying to do is form a small tight loop with the top and bottom parallel. See drawing below.

The following drawings are showing a forward cast. The back-cast loop should look the same. It might run a little upward. That is the plane might be tilted a little down in front and up in back. This would be a forward cast into a breeze. When you are casting from a shore or where there are obstacles behind you, that will try to snag your fly; this will help by keeping your back-cast higher. Changing the plane is just aiming the back cast higher or stopping the back-cast sooner.

Remember this; the line will go in the direction the rod tip was traveling when the rod was stopped.

When you go out to practice casting use about thirty feet of line. This will load the rod. Remember 'lesson one' on line weights. The loop will form as you get up enough speed with your arm as long as you STOP the rod travel. Learning the 'speed up stop' is the key to fly-casting. After that it is just as easy as flysoup.

You can do the practice casting just about anywhere there is enough room. About 60 feet is needed, 30 in front and 30 in back for the back-cast. I have taught fly-casting on rooftops in downtown Ft. Worth to open fields and golf courses, I like the golf courses the best. The short grass does not grab the fly line. You do not need the water to practice on, except for the roll cast. This cast uses the water's drag to load the rod. That is another lesson. Try to develop the 'loop' then control the size of the 'loop' by stopping faster and slower or changing the speed of the arm's travel before the stop. Do not overpower the rod, let it do the casting. You just STOP the rod When you can form loops that are about twenty to thirty inches in size you are a good fly caster.


I did not show the backcast, it should have the same high rod STOP. ~ Allen Crist (flysoup)

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