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Art of Casting Analysis, refinement of the cast

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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-02-2006 02:38 PM
TjP Well, went fishing again today, armed with my new technique of keeping the rod vertical on the forecast. Worked ok-ish, landed perfectly straight and gentle a few times, though not always.

After an hour or two though, the lake owner came over and had a quick chat, asking how I was doing and what fly I was using etc. After admitting Im still new to the whole fly fishing sport, this being my 5th time fishing, he offered me some casting tips. Apparently I was doing it all with my wrist, and that I should keep my wrist locked. He gave me a quick demo of how I was doing it, and how it should be done - keeping my wrist locked throughout, keeping my elbow down against my side, and using quick short movements from 10 o'clock to 2.
He then left me to have a go at putting what he showed me into practice, and I will say, I was shooting the line much more successfully. My only concern is the fly can come quite close to my face on the backcast, if I leave the line a little while too long! But thats what the sunglasses are there for I guess =) - and the baseball cap ;D

Even though it was only a small 1.5 acre catch-and-release lake, there was a little hut with tea making facilities and such, and it turns out the guy is a casting tutor, so Im gonna put some thought into asking him for an hour of tuition - only costs 5 afterall!

He also gave me some intruction on how to fish the lake... and loaned me a full sinking line since I only have a sink tip and floater! Nice guy. His technique and the fly he gave me proved deadly. On my third cast I hooked a frikin monster... at first it felt like about a 1.5lb trout, then WHOOSH he took off and took my leader with him - 6lb fluorocarbon snapped just like that. It was terrifying, lol, he pulled easily twice as hard as the 2.5lb rainbow I landed, which is my record at the mo. He yanked the line out of my grip as I was pulling him in. As I said, absolutely terrifying! Well, atleast Ill be more prepared for such a big fish next time =D

Overall, a good day fishing, and hopefully a further improvement to my casting =)

Again, thanks for all the tips and such, has been helpful! I know it wasnt easy to offer advice when you cant see what Im doing, so thank yee all =)
06-30-2006 06:36 AM
juro Jay -

Very nicely described; Lefty has a way of putting things in simple understandable terms.

However TjP describes more than just curvature in the line in fact some of the description implies recoil and agressive stroke power, and he began without a leader which further promotes recoil especially when the power is high.

The "line follows the tip" analogy has a lot of merit but I have to wonder if it's the root cause here.

Line follows rod tip of course, but only if the line has momentum in that direction. Otherwise it just opens the loop.

For instance:

Let's say I cast a 70 foot false cast with a longbelly line. I am tracking the line in a fairly small imaginary cylinder in the air, parallel to the ground and about 10 feet off the ground.

Suddenly, I drop the rod tip to the ground on the forward cast. If we over-simplify the description "line follows the rod tip" then we should expect that the line goes to the ground.

However you will note that the momentum of the line at the 10ft altitude and forward vector wants to continue in that track despite what the rod tip does.

To your point if the rod tip had been pulling the line in a different track through the stroke from start to finish, then the line will go in that direction accordingly.

I like very much to use simple tips as well but instead of focusing only on the rod tip (which is important) I also put some emphasis on the line itself and have gotten much better reactions from students in terms of application of power and tracking.
06-30-2006 04:37 AM
2HandTheSalt This is a very simple thing to diagnose and to correct.

" The fly line is going to travel in the direction the rod tip travels at the end of the stroke."

Your rod tip is traveling from right to left at the end of the stroke, and so the fly line must follow it. You are making what is commonly referred to as a, " Curve cast."

The fix is to ensure that the rod tip travels straight at the end of the stroke.

The same is also true of the line splashing in the water at the end of the cast. Simply aim the cast higher.

You can prove this to yourself quite easily, in the abscence of wind:

With about 25' of line out of the rod tip, make an overhead cast and at the very end of the stroke, flick the rod tip from left to right. See what happens when the fly line lands on the water?

Best of luck with it!

Jay Horton
06-29-2006 05:24 PM
TjP I was thinking of getting some tuition, but I aint sure where its available in my area. Ill have to look into it... its possible they give tuition at a reservoir nearby where I live.

For now though, ive found a temporary solution so making the line shoot straight. Ive changed my casting so that on the forward cast, i hold the rod as vertical as possible, and kind of bring the handle of the rod down towards my chest area, rather than just moving my hand horizontally... hard to explain. Basically though, instead of keeping the rod t an angle during the whole false casting and final cast, I now backcast with the rod at whatever angle I want, but then forward cast vetically. The result is that the loop on the forward cast in nicely vertical - instead of the loop being at an angle -, and lands straight. Now I just need to try it out on some water this weekend, to see if I still get the splash with this method. If so I guess Im putting too much power into the final cast.

I will have to try and observe other anglers too, to see if this method is normal, but Im pretty sure its not, could be wrong though.

But hey, even if its not normal, if it works for me until I can get some tuition then its all good!
06-26-2006 11:19 PM
Eric Hi, TjP

If you are really frustrated by your progress so far and really want to become a proficient caster (as it would appear you do), get tuition.

This is not to undervalue the excellent tips given above. It's just easier to have someone hold your hand, quite literally, to show you how it's done rather than read, digest, and attempt to execute written instructions.

Find a recommended and endorsed fly-casting instructor. Don't go to an instructor than hasn't been recommended by persons whose advice you trust. Just because a teacher is qualified as an instructor doesn't mean he or she can teach. I took Spey casting lessons from a well-known instructor and the only help he gave me was to tell me I was doing it all wrong.

I taught myself to fly-cast.

It was a huge mistake.

I have spent fifty years trying to correct the wrong muscle memories I've built up through my trial years. I'm still far from a good caster, but I feel if I'd started out right, I would be OK now and not just a mediocre duffer.

Remember: Practice makes perfect for some, but practice makes permanent, also.

Get good, qualified professional help. It will pay off in the long run (and fly-fishing is for life).

My .02,

-- Eric
06-26-2006 01:32 PM
TjP Cheers folks, giving me lots to think about.

I'll try and get a video clip of my casting, though Ive only got my digital camera to do this with, which is not a camcorder, and the quality probably wont be very good. Hopefully the line will be visible though. Ill try my best to get someone to do the recording ASAP =)
06-26-2006 07:29 AM
juro OK -

Let's slow down a minute. There are so many excellent points above but this can go two ways - (1) we provide many suggestions and you choose the ones which fit or (2) we address specific concerns and problems as determined.

(1) we are already well on our way and (2) requires specific details about the problems you want to resolve, one at a time. This is difficult at best in a bulletin board without a video clip. But we've done it several times with focused description of what's going wrong.

I think we resolved the most obvious issue, which as Eric pointed out best was a lack of a leader on the flyline. However as some point out above it's certainly not everything, just step #1.

Now let's see if we can move ahead...

You mentioned 'curvy line and splash' also a lessened hook in the cast. Are these the key issues you have remaining after adding an appropriate leader?

Sounds to me like you are losing the line tension somewhere thru the cast. This can be caused by a number of things but the most common are:

- stroke timing, getting ahead or behind the cadence of the line's load/unload sequence

- using arm power to compensate for tracking problems especially with men casters, in other words the rod tip is not traveling in a plane so energy is lost, and the arm uses extra power to compensate to power it thru the inefficiencies of a curved path

- hinging from too much running line beyond the tip (thin line can't cast thick)

Ooops! I've reverted to multiple choice again.

Well I will stop there and let you describe specific nuances you'd like to debug -or- post a video clip which is by far the more definitive way to get what you seek.

Or perhaps hire a FFF certified casting instructor or recruit a friend who's casting you admire to help you in person.
06-25-2006 02:07 PM
jlsmithii [QUOTE=. The only sure way ive found of getting rid of the problem, is keeping my rod dead vertical when I false cast, and finally shoot. [/QUOTE]
My advise to you is forget the complexities of leader for right now. The problem is with your casting stroke as manifested by the hook even when you have leader on.
What the rod was doing at the "STOP" portion of the cast when the energy is transferred, is what the line is going to mimic. So if we see the line doing something other than what we want it to do, we should be able to identify the cause and correct it. Follow that back a little further to what was done by the arm/body to cause the rod to do what it did. Now we can change the arm/body motion to make the rod do what it should have and see the results in the way the line acts.
For example: if the line takes a hook to the left just about the time it is all the way out then the rod must have taken a movement to the left. Video tape yourself or have someone watch you casting stroke. Watching the cast a couple of times will allow you to
locate the twist of the wrist that caused the hook. Then all that has to be done is to stop the twisting of the wrist. Keep practicing and remember, it's more fun to practice on water with the possiblity of catching fish than on a lawn.
Sounds simplier than it is but there you have it. When you rod is verticle, you must not be making the final twist.
06-25-2006 12:56 PM
TjP Thanks for all the tips folks, will keep at it!

Ill maybe try and get a recording of myself next time I go, so I can compare myself to other people I watch. Might help to see if Im doing one part particularly badly.
06-25-2006 10:55 AM
Paxton Another thought for you to consider:
1. purchase a premade tapered leader to rule in or out the leader itself as the issue;
2. If you still have a problem with curving, then it is possible that at the end of your fore-cast, you are twisting your hand either left or right. If this is the case...concentrate on keeping your thumb directly behind the rod (cork)....if casting at an angle also try and keep the thumb in that behind position. Make sure that your thumb is not left or right of center.
Sometimes this is easier if prior to casting (if you are a right hander), cocking the bottom of the reel towards your body a bit.....this makes it easier to keep the thumb in the right position.
Try not to shoot the lie at the water....if on shore, find a treeline across the lake or stream and shoot at the tops of the trees (or as if you wanted the line to land 8 ft above the water) want the line to go out not will do that by itself :-)
By the way.....don't be embarrased....casting is like golf.....only 10 percent ever shoot par, the rest of us have problems...just enjoy yourself.
06-24-2006 05:45 PM
TjP Argh, well i went fishing today as planned, as Im really frustrated cause my casting is rubbish! Half the time the line landed with a splash, 85% of the time it was all curvy, and most of the time even with a 9ft leader, the line still curved a bit to the left (though not as much), and the leader landing in a random postion - usually not straight. I had the odd good cast, but I was unable to tell what I was doing differently.

Its plain embaressing casting with other people in view!

EDIT: Oh aye, I didnt catch anything either, but the lake owner said the fishing was a bit slow at the mo so I shouldnt feel so bad about that. My first outing with no catch so far though!
06-23-2006 08:26 PM
Eric Hi, TjP,

If I may jump in here:

For most of us, tapered leaders are an essential element in single-handed fly-casting. The idea is that gradually reducing the diameter from the front taper of the flyline to the tippet transfers energy properly for correct fly turn-over and for delicacy of presentation.

The butt section of the leader (Juro's 60%) should closely approximate the diameter of front taper of the fly line. From there, the middle portion of the leader stops down quickly until a small enough diameter of leader is reached to bend on the tippet section. The tippet then takes up the final 20%.

I'm impressed that you can cast a level leader at all, nevermind the hook to the left. You'll find casting a tapered leader much easier.

Some confusion may have arisen over the practice of many Spey casters of using level leaders (leaders of the same diameter throughout). While it may not matter (to some) in Spey casting, a tapered leader really does matter in single-handed, over-hand casting.

Try to use a "practice" fly. This can be a bit of yarn, as Juro suggests, or a fly with the hook broken off (these are easy enough to get if you fish anywhere near rocky banks). Having the fly on the end of the tippet helps you practice correctly and prepares you for the real thing on the water.

Getting back to leaders: look up the various formulae on the web. Note the creators remarks on brand names and relative stiffness of the leader material. This all makes a difference. Fluorcarbon tends to be of smaller diameter than conventional monofilament; so, if the leader formula you want is given in pounds or kilograms test, you must take that into account.

I prefer a stiff butt and taper portion; the tippet's limpness will vary with the species and conditions under which I'm fishing. Others will have different preferences.

On last thing: remember how you achieve that left hook! Sometime you might find yourself on the Gaspe dry-fly fishing for salmon, and being able to throw a upstream curve can be a real advantage in presentation.


06-23-2006 06:09 PM
TjP Tis reassuring to hear you say that ^^

But as for the leader being broken down into the 3 section you talk of... thats beyond me. I think maybe we do it differently here in the UK, either that or just my uncle, who has taught me the basics, uses a different method for the leader.

Basically I use a single length of leader connecting the line and fly. At the mo, Im using 6lb fluorocarbon for my leader, and just taking a 8-9ft length of that and tying it on to my line, then putting a single fly at the other end. This is the only way ive been taught.

From that, I can put extra flies on droppers, though until I get better at casting Im using a single fly to avoid tangles in my leader.

The flurocarbon leader material comes on a 50M spool, so I dont think its tapered at all.
06-23-2006 05:53 PM
juro Well unless you can post a video we have to take it a step at a time with the most likely culprit being the first to debug.

Looking forward to hearing from you tomorrow.

BTW - a good recipe for a temporary leader is to use the 60/20/20% rule.

A leader has at least three parts, the butt, the taper and tippet

These are often broken down into smaller segments again but for the purpose of the test just divide the leader (say 8ft) into 60% length (58 inches) depending on the fly line in this case a 7wt well just use 20-25# test, then a taper segment of 20% length (20") of say 12# then 20" of say 8#

You can see this would not make a good fishing leader, but for the purposes at hand go for it. Later on just split the three into pieces to step down more so a 30# butt could taper to a 4# tippet by stepping more as you go etc.

Keep in mind the more it tapers the more reduction in energy is achieved and the less kick you should experience unless the taper is too radical. The trick is to make it smooth turning over.

Then you might have other influences from the rod path, etc but even the best casters will get a whip-over without a leader.
06-23-2006 05:44 PM
TjP Thanks for the quick reply =)

Ill have to try what you say tomorrow, as its dark now here in the UK and Id probably whip myself in the face if I tried casting now =P

Hopefully what you say works though, as its quite frustrating to have such a flaw in my cast.

So Ill try practicing with the leader attatched as you say, and add a piece of yarn in place of a fly? Not seen that done before, so just hoping I understand you correctly

I seem to be able to handle the line fine in the air, I can keep the loops tight (only learnt what was meant by "tight loops" today, watching a DVD =P), its just the final cast that I cant get right.

Well, tomorrow, as I say. Should actually be going to a local trout fishery also, so I can try it out for real there =)
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