How to cast a fly-fishing Rod - Part 2
Casting stance provides the platform for good casts
Probably the best casting stance (for right-handed casters) is with the left foot at about 11 o'clock, where 12 o'clock is your target, and your right foot about a shoulder's width behind the left foot and at 1 o'clock.
This stance provides a firm base for balance, and allows your casting arm plenty of room to move freely. It also gives a good base for turning your body to assist in long casting.
Lefties; as usual you will be able to translate the above.
Hold the fly-rod above the reel with your thumb laying on the handle above the reel and pointing toward the rod tip. Your fingers should be curled round the handle, firmly but comfortably.
You will have already pulled out about 3 to 4m of the fly-line (not including the leader) which will be hanging off the end of the rod tip.
Important Note: Never, ever, not even once, pull line through the rod by holding the handle and pulling line back towards you almost parallel to the rod.
You will break the rod somewhere in the tip section. It is called 'point loading' - that is when the load is concentrated at one point, not along the length of the rod.
A rod is designed to bend along its length, not for force to be pulled back down its length. It is a very common way of breaking a fly-rod.
Put the rod butt end down on the ground, hold the rod near the tip and pull the line out and away from the tip.
Gripping the Line
Holding the line going to the rod tip firmly under your rod-hand finger pull about 10 metres of line off the reel with your non-rod hand (line-hand) and leave it at your feet. Now we are ready to cast. But wait - there's more...
The Line Must Be Straight Before You Can Cast It.
When casting just about any other type of fishing tackle, you use the weight of the lure or bait and sinker to pull line off the reel. In fly-casting you are casting the line and it does not get pulled off the reel.
One of the most difficult skills to learn is the ‘pick-up’, which is picking the line up off the water, and pulling it into the back-cast. But the good thing about this difficulty is that once you have mastered it the rest of the cast is easy.
Here is a good demonstration of what I mean.
Lay a long length of rope or a garden hose out on the lawn in a series of big waves. Grab one end and give it a good yank, using the whole arm movement. Notice that some of the waves might move but the other end has not moved.
Then straighten the hose or rope and pull on one end, and the other end moves - magic!
So if your line is not straight when you go into the back cast the rod will reach its correct position over your shoulder but the end of the line is still not moving.
A sure symptom of this is the line falling out of the sky in a crumpled heap or the line falling in a heap behind or over you.
Remember, the line must be straight and then start slow, finish fast, stop dead.
How do I get the line straight out in front of me for the first cast?
First pull off the amount of line you think you will need reach your objective off the reel using your non-rod hand (line-hand). You can drop the line at your feet.
Hold the line in your line-hand and using very short strokes, but remembering the first Five Principles, start casting, and on each back and forward cast let a little more line out by letting it run through your fingers, usually about a meter or two, on the forward cast.
Suddenly you have all your line out and on its way to where it is supposed to go - more magic!
With the line straight out in front of you, on the water or grass, slowly begin to lift the rod bending your arm as you move it back.
Then when the whole line is moving, accelerate the backward movement of your arm until your thumb on top of the rod handle is pointing to 1 o'clock.
With small flick of the wrist, only two or three cm, or 1”, come to a complete stop.
In the illustration alongside I have attempted to show the acceleration required using the green ‘sweep’. The darker the green, and the wider the ‘sweep’ the greater the acceleration on the rod.
If you are just starting out, when you complete the back-cast, let the line fall to the ground behind you. Turn around and repeat the back-cast until the line and leader falls to the ground in a straight line.
Once you are confident you can achieve a straight line on most back casts add a forward cast.
Try to remember it is well nigh impossible to make a proper forward cast if the back-cast is dodgy.
Do a back cast as before, but this time when you come to the stop, turn your head and watch the line, when it straightens up behind you, come into the forward cast, starting slow, ending fast, stop dead.
If you find yourself running into trouble, I will lay money on the likelihood you are moving the rod too fast at the start of the cast (back or forward) and you are trying to add too much power at the end of the forward cast.
It is called
‘over-powering the cast’ and it is the
single biggest problem for new casters.
If you think you have got an over-powering problem (you know what I mean) try seeing how slowly you can move the rod to get the line in the air. If you can get it in the air go slower, and so on, and on. It is a great exercise to see just how little power you need to apply to get the fly line moving. (It is also a great exercise for experienced casters when things start falling apart.)
Retrieving the fly-Line
Unlike most other forms of fishing, unless you need to wind in all the line to move to another pool, the line is retrieved by hand. The line runs over the forefinger of the rod hand and is pressed against the rod handle.
Using the non-rod hand (line-hand) the line is pulled (‘stripped’) in . The speed of this retrieve is adjusted to meet local conditions and to match the behaviour of the creature you are seeking to imitate with your fly. Most often you can just let the retrieved line fall on the water by your feet.
More Casting information & Tips
There are many excellent articles on casting, basics, advanced, and specialty casts, on the Sexy Loops website.
Here are 28 very good fly-rod casting hints, from Midcurrent a website on fly-fishing in fresh and saltwater.