Casting Knots! ARGH!
I finally had a nice day to get out and try some casting for the first time. (Just FYI, in this part of the world the lakes are frozen solid right now). It wasn't a windy day, and it seemed I was getting a decent cast at first... then the leader bound up into a spider's nest of tangle. I cautiously untangled the line and began casting again just to find it knotting up again and again. I tried to watch what I was doing... but that made matters worse. My line hit the rod as it passed from back to front on a couple casts. The final tangle left me feeling pretty down about the whole thing.
I've been reading everything I can find and I've watched a few videos so I thought I'd be ready to practice a few simple casts.
Any ideas what I can try next? :confused:
it sounds like you're throwing tailing loops, which is very common. that is why anglers frequently get "wind knots". as lefty kreh maintains, they have nothing to do with wind. pick up one of lefty's books--"advanced fly casting" is a good one... he is very easy to understand, the book is written in plain language. most likely, you are extending the rod tip forward after your speed up and stop--so the line is crashing into itself. at any rate, mr. kreh can explain this better than me... good luck, you have 2 months to practice!
Start slow----Stop fast
Sounds like the more you tried, the worse it got. RIght? And the worse it got, the more P.O.ed you got. The more P.O.ed you got, the more power you put into the cast. Like,,,,,get out there,,,dammit! Tailing loop,,,big time.
The most common mistake beginners to fly casting make is too much power, too soon. That does not work. Period, end of story. This is a whole different ball game than slinging lead. Remember you are casting the line, not the fly. The fly is only along for the ride.
In order to properly load the rod and make it cast a line that has the weight distributed over a (30 foot) length, requires a smoooothe application of power. That means start the stroke slowly, gradually accelerate, and stop abruptly. I can not over emphasize the abrupt stop!
Some instructors have likened this to flipping paint off a paint brush. Others have used the anology of slinging an apple off a sword. Much more difficult to explain in print. However, there are many good video's out there by some of the best fly casting instructors in the world.
If there is no one in your area to show you this stuff, I would highly recommend you get your hands on one or more of these videio's. Mel Kreiger, Lefty Kreh, & Joan Wullf come to mind as three of the best. There are others who may be as good, but of these I am familiar.
Thanks guys, I'm sure you're right on the money. Over powered, whipping the rod, dropping the tip, getting PO'ed and making matters much worse.
I watched the video by Mel Kreiger (excellent) but I may need to rent it again.
Having flipped spoons with a bait caster and long armed bait rigs from my spinning rod I think the natural instinct is to go back to asserting more force. Then the line starts piling up in a wad 10' feet in front of me.... then even more force... which naturally results in some sort of macrame creation completely encapsulating my little practice bug. This wasn't your run-of-the-mill over hand knot like Mel described... this was more like a double sheep shank with an embedded squart knot.
Thanks again. I'm sure I'll be back with plenty of other questions.
Great to hear you are out there in this weather getting a head start on spring.
You mentioned it was windy... from which direction was the wind coming (relative to your casting)?
Would you say that you were holding the rod vertically or out to the side a little, let's say 60 or 45 degrees?
How long was the leader, and did you have a puff of yarn?
Have you stopped in to an area flyshop to get some free advice? We can't see what you're doing so it's hard to determine root cause(s).
A couple of tips to prevent wind knots:
1. Slow down your casting stroke.
2. Put less power into your casts.
3. Let the line straighten out more on both ends.
4. Turn your rod off vertical a little.
5. Make sure your casting stroke is going straight back and forth.
The first 3 are really all very related, and it sounds like these may have been causing your problem!
this is not exactly a case of "tailing loops" or "wind knots"...
I think it is harder to cast well with the wind than against it.
I would guesse that the slight breeze helped to knock down your back cast and the line didn't straighten out and started to fall. When you couldn't feel the weight of the line, you gave it a little extra power to regain contact, but it was too late. The line was already below the height of the rod tip. Then acceleration decreased (or ceased) because you couldn't keep up the acceration and the falling line piled into the (almost vertical) rod tip. That's my guesse of what happened.
You could have maybe saved it by dropping the tip, but that would promote poor form.
My recomendation is to tighten up the loop on your back cast, and make sure not to arealize more than you can fully extend. Turn around and have a look to make sure that you can see it fully straighten out. When I first started casting, I was told never to turn my head back because it would spoil the alignment. Bad advice. If your wondering what's going on back there, take a look. The backcast has to fully extend. If the wind is still an issue, back cast low to the side (to scoot it under the wind). Once the line is straight, the rod can be efficiently loaded, and it won't be hard to accelerate smoothly. At this point, the wind from behind can be helpfull.
But first let's check the equipment - you didn't mention the weight rating of the rod and the characteristics of the line, so I have to ask... is the rod and line matched up properly and adorned with a suitable leader? A line that is too light for a rod would create more mess the harder one tries. A line that is too heavy could overload and hamper turnover, or shock the rod. A short leader could recoil, a long leader could lose energy, etc - there is a lot in just matching the tools to the task. If you have any doubts, this is where your local flyshop, professional instructor or an experienced friend comes in real handy.
OK, let's assume your gear is good to go, and you are using a WF floating line and everything is matched up nicely. Your grip and stance are good.
A good first step is to forget about front and back just for a minute, and practice 'the pendulum' effect, side to side.
1) Strip out the 'head' of the line, meaning just the fat part.
2) Now picture yourself at the stop line of an intersection looking north. The line should be pointing straight East, extended fully on the ground.
With the line straight, not wavy or crumpled, pull the line toward the west so that even the far fuzzy fly starts thru the intersection and stop! The line wants to keep right on rolling through the intersection when you stop, even the fly. Speed-up and stop, left/right over and over several times until you get the line completely straight East, then West.
This exercise demonstrates a few important aspects of a fly cast. The stop is critical, and where you stop determines a lot about a fly cast.
If you get the whole line moving, speed up and stop, the line will continue past the tip and lay out smooth and straight.
If you do a hole-shot, the line will collide on itself and tangle. If you roll through the intersection without ramping up speed, the line will not unravel. The right way is to speed-up-and-stop as Lefty says.
Adjust your speed-up (acceleration) and firm stop so that the line lays perfectly straight east, then west. Do this with the least amount of arm and wrist power until you feel the rod doing all the work. Visualize the line turning over itself after the rod stops until the leader follows it to the fly. Reduce power as low as possible while the line fully unravels.
Next keep the line moving that way side-to-side without letting the line touch the ground.
Got that workin? GREAT now forget about side to side completely :lildevl: Once you feel that smooth side to side groove you are ready for a different angle - overhead casting, lesson II.
- start with a fully extended straight line pointing east
- pull the line to the west so the whole line is moving then stop the rod tip
- the line will keep moving to the west when the rod stops, forming a 'loop'
- try this back and forth without touching the ground
- think about the effect of speeding up (how much / fast) and stopping
On to lesson II...
I bought my rod, reel, line, and backing from Cabelas about 15-20 years ago. I put the whole thing together correctly, used it about 5 times, and quickly got so busy that I never got to use it again until now. Luckily I cleaned and dressed the line before I put it away last. I showed it to a guy at a local shop and he said it all looked brand new. The only complaint he had was that the rod was very dated compared to modern rods... but then he said he still has a Pflueger brand rod that's at least 20 years old and he uses it all the time.
The rod is about 8' long, rated as a 6-7 weight, and the line is a weight forward #6 floating line. I added a "loop" leader attachment that slips over the end of the fly line and uses a little section of shrink wrap to keep it on there securely. The leader is a new tapered Scientific Anglers #6 leader about 5 feet long (cut the tangle off) with a 5 foot section of .006 tippet. I use a leader straightener and the whole line lays down beautifully until I get over zealous (my longest ordinary cast is roughly 30 feet I'd guess).
Just as a side note, I had no idea what I was doing when I used the rod before... so I just imitated people I'd seen on TV. I could blast the line out more than 100 feet, but I lost every single fly on my back cast because I "cracked the whip". Now I know that the cast I was imitating is called a haul or double haul (and very poorly imitated).
I like your description and technique with the graphics. I'm going to get out this weekend and give it a try!
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