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Art of Casting Analysis, refinement of the cast

Thread: Most common casting problems you see Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-18-2004 06:30 AM
juro I'm sure that physics supports better aim with a more vertical path of the rod, for one thing the path of the hand is aligned with the eye and where the hand goes the rod follows. When I take the overhead cert test I will be using a vertical stroke for accuracy tests for sure.

But as an avid sight fisherman I rarely cast with a vertical rod position because it's harder to get as fast of a load into the rod for me with the upright angle in time to make the connection with the cruising fish, not to mention potential collisions with stainless hvy hooks and weighted eyes to right the hook on very shallow flats, etc.

By harder to get a load I mean that when walking around in the water, holding the line in the hands or when casting after one shot to take another, I find it easier and more natural to throw the necessary backcast with an outward angle to get things going to get enough momentum going to put the fly where it needs to be. After years of sight fishing I have become 'accurate enough' with a 45 degree cast and have avoided the vertical position for fishing saltwater.

Accuracy with spey casting is another topic entirely. To use a very vertical path you usually need to set the anchor closer, thus you would use a shorter line and probably more of a Scandinavian technique. For most of my fishing I prefer a longer line and traditional technique, and I am finding that you can get pretty accurate coming off the anchor placed a rod length away and to the front just by paying close attention to the angle of aim and having a smooth stroke to the correct release point for the target.

When two-handed overhead casting it's quite a bit easier to use a (near) vertical path of the rod and you can create a tremendous amount of power for accuracy at distance with a little practice.

Interesting discussion!
06-17-2004 12:21 PM
flyfisha1 "I tend to aim a bit better when the cast is overhead..."

Same with me.
06-17-2004 11:56 AM
Originally posted by flyfisha1

As an aside, I seem to have fewer problems with my cast when I'm casting side-armed; I've always been that way. Casting directly overhead, or even a few degrees off, just isn't as effective for me. I'm not sure if it's a more natural motion for me than overhead casting, it just feels better and casts farther.
I totally agree that sidearm (or three-quarter) casting is much more comfortable than overhead casting. For some reason, I'm also much less likely to get a tailing loop when I drop to a sidearm cast. The only time I go directly overhead is when I want pinpoint accuracy (or when there's an obstruction that I need to get my backcast over). I tend to aim a bit better when the cast is overhead, but I get the best distance with a three-quarters cast.
06-17-2004 11:27 AM
flyfisha1 One of the things that I don't see enough people doing is watching their line during the cast. They have no concept of what's going on with the line and rarely form tight loops or make very effective casts to fish that are further out than they typically can reach, and they don't really have a feel for the line loading the rod. I think that actually looking at the back cast, at least from time to time and whenever you change patterns to one that is much more/less wind resistant to the one you've been fishing (unsuccessfully :hehe: ) for the last two-hours, or whenever the wind changes direction and/or strength significantly, can really help maximize casting efficiency.

I'm guilty of overpowering my forward cast from time to time, evident when I relax and unload the line to the same distance that I previously attained by trying to launch it to the moon.

As an aside, I seem to have fewer problems with my cast when I'm casting side-armed; I've always been that way. Casting directly overhead, or even a few degrees off, just isn't as effective for me. I'm not sure if it's a more natural motion for me than overhead casting, it just feels better and casts farther.
06-17-2004 10:36 AM
LabanTayo I will comment on my faults:
1. not letting backcast straighten
2. i get a wobble in the line on the forward cast.'
3. not a tight enough loop
4. tails

I've been fly fishing for 12 years and just recently decided to work on my casting since i never had a need for distance.

Once I started to learn about good casting, my casting has gone to hell. I used to cast a good distance with my old 8 wt, now i have problems with 50 ft. on a new, good rod.
05-31-2004 10:57 PM
juro There are a couple things I can offer, passed on to me by the wonderful casters I have known or things I've cooked up myself.

1) push your thumb in the direction you want the line to go. keep it on top, not to the left or right - but right up on top of the hand as you finish the cast. This also helps control tailing loops.

2) practice keeping the hand in plane by standing next to the wall and rotating the arm like a windmill an inch or two off the wall a few times, then make casting motions where your knuckles are but an inch or two away and equidistant the whole time, keeping your thumb on top so you can point it at the target in the end.

3) throw a fly line without a rod for a while. Nothing makes you straighten your stroke like a 10-15ft length of flyline cast with your bare hand. For a real eye-opener, add a haul on the backcast, and forward cast if you can. The backcast haul is easy, but my point is check out the impact that move has on the line speed.

4) Look at your hand when you finish the cast. Do you see your fingernails? You shouldn't unless you turned your hand in a palm up vector during the cast.

5) Cast a short line, about 25-30 ft, perfectly straight using the absolute minimum energy possible that will still carry the loop. Then add line, keeping things perfectly straight as you add only the minimum energy. Then put the whole head out there, and keep things going perfectly straight. Finally, drift back a little and accelerate a little quicker on the forward stroke, hitting it mostly at the end. That should reach about as far as you could ever reach with more effort and less straight-line efficiency. Try to throw the other half of the loop - the half past the wedge and attached to the fly - like a javelin through the air, straight fast and true.

Hope these help.

05-31-2004 10:34 PM
DickIvers Here is a frustrating problem that I often encounter in my casting:

My cast hooks to the left instead of going straight out (I'm right handed). In the worst instances the leader will end up 90 deg. to the line. I try to keep rod motion in a straight path as best I can, but that doesn't seem to help. There seems to be too much kinetic energy in the cast which ends up dissipating itself by turning left. To try to stop it I will sometimes place my right foot forward instead of my left. This reduces upper body rotation making the cast somewhat straighter, but its not the total answer.

Any ideas?
05-28-2004 08:12 AM
My Mistake...

when referring to a lazy "S" configuration of the flyline on both the back and forward stroke. In fact, before the flyline straightens out on the backcast, it does look like a lazy "S." You are correct on the forward cast configuration appearing to be a sideways "u."

An excellent aid to depict flyline form and to commit to muscle memory is your "boa" or the Fly-O sold by Joan Wulff.

This is a welcome addition to the forum and not readily available elsewhere.

Juro, good Job!

05-27-2004 06:22 PM
juro Great point about watching the backcast. I often start a newbie off by doing side to side "pendulum" motions just to get the accelerate/stop cadence down. But you don't want to do it for long to avoid muscle memory.

For increased visibility of the backcast, an open stance with the opposite foot forward also helps aid the view.

Change of color is being adopted by more line manufacturers in the seasons to come, thankfully! This includes Rio, Wulff, Airflo for starters that I know of, some of whom already had it even for floating and intermediate lines.
05-27-2004 05:26 PM


I agree that on overhead casting, allot of people will drift the rod forward prior to making the forward cast. My cure for this has always been to close my stance. Just like a batter can close his stance. With the closed stance it is easy to look over your shoulder and see what the rod is doing. for those that want to learn to drift the rod farther to the rear for a longer stroke this is an easy way to learn to do it.

But my biggest bug a boo is trying to keep to much line in the air. I have a habit of shooting line on my back cast and sometimes trying to get that extra foot I put to much in the air and everything turns do do. Thats one thing I like about the multi colored lines. When I see the wrong color at the tip I know I am in trouble.
05-27-2004 02:43 PM
This one took me back 50 years!!

Originally posted by FrenchCreek
Lok at the elbow!
An "overactive" one will almost always wreck the cast, it causes many problems and "fixing" the elbow can greatly enhance the "solutions" we all try to convey to casters we try to help.
Taught to cast by an elderly gentleman neighbor (Mr. Coles); that was his main point for a 10-12 year old (really) learning how to cast. His 'tool' was a roll of newspaper under the elbow; instant feed back if the roll fell out from under your arm. Not good.

As timing/distance improved then you could drop the paper as you had to move the arm forward and back for double hauling, etc.
05-27-2004 01:15 PM
juro Solo -

Thanks for the explanation, I see your point clearly!

Fred -

Drift backward after the release of line into the backcast is good... I think what people are saying is that drift forward before the forward stroke is bad. At least that's what I am saying.

If the forearm stops vertically and the wrist snaps to 2pm, then the arm is not positioned to make a big stroke forward. The drift back increases the stroke length for the forward stroke, which increases load in the rod, which increases power in the loop, etc - so to your point the drift back after the stop on the backcast is definitely a good way of increasing distance provided the travel forward keeps the tip of the rod in the same line 180 to the back cast and has a gradual acceleration to a snapping stop in front.

I've learned the hard way (repeat hard way!) that hitting the power too early in the forward stroke -and/or- having any kind of deviation from the straight path results in tailing loops, twohanded or singlehanded.

Simms -

Great description! Just a bit of clarification - what is the "lazy S"? I see a "C" or sideways "U".

Thumbs up Sean
05-27-2004 12:40 PM
sean The few people I have taught to cast I have them visualize punching their thumb (assuming you cast with your thumb on top of the cork) towards the sky when stopping the rod on the backcast. This seems to help get them to stop the rod high.

I also like to get beginners to spend a lot of time just practicing the backcast and nothing else. This it what I spend the majority of my time on when I am practicing and it has really helped improve my distance. When I first started casting I had no idea how important the backcast is to being a successful caster. Every newbie should have this point driven home before they even pick up a rod.

05-27-2004 12:27 PM
Some science might help

Most adults have an aversion to passive learning situations and a penchant for active or hands-on learning experiences. But, a little theory on flycasting might be helpful in order to conceptualize the connectivity between the flyline, rod and line/rod hands before the "hands on."

This is even helpful to intermediate casters:
!. The flyrod is a flexible lever or spring that loads and unloads on both the back and forward strokes. If a definite stop does not occur at the end of the stroke (both back and forward casts) then the energy developed in bending this flexible lever is inefficiently dissipated.
2. The flyline is the weighted mass that loads the rod. It travels from the tip of the rod in a lazy "S" configuration on both the back and forward stroke. The fly attached via the leader to the flyline merely goes along for the ride.
3. The rod hand is an extension of the rod. As the fulcrum to the rod, a little arm/wrist movement translates to feet at the end of the rod.
4. The line hand plays an equally important role. It is the tensioning device on the flyline for controlling the loading and unloading of the rod.

Once those principles are understood, then the art of flycasting can begin.

05-27-2004 11:51 AM
FredA Tailing loops bug the hell out of me. They seem to often result from trying to hard on the final forward cast. I know pretty much why they happen, just can't seem to break out of the mode sometimes.

As far as clocks and drift go, from what I've heard...

Other than trying to get someone off the ground with casting I think Lefty's got it right. There ain't no clocks in flyfishing. The stopping points are to be abrupt, to unload the rod, preceded with the smooth acceleration of the rod, to load the rod. At the risk of mis-representing Roberts, for distance casting, rod drift, after unloading on the backcast, is a means of providing a longer stroke through which to accelerate and more deeply load the rod. So I'm not sure why drift is nessacerily a problem.
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