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TjP 06-23-2006 05:23 PM

Shooting Straight?
Hey folks, first post around here - of many, dont you worry ;). Was hoping to get some tips.

Ive started fly fishing this season, got myself my own rod and kit. Managed to get a Hardy Swift 9ft6 #7 on ebay for less than half the RRP, cause it had been used once or twice. As for experience, Ive been fishing ohh... 3 times now. Managed to catch a rainbow on each outing :D Rubbish compared to you guys who probably get full bags each time, but since I noly just started, I figured that was not bad =)

My problem, though, is with my casting.

I practice my casting a lot - every day, several short sessions - on my lawn, but when I shoot the line the end whips around at the end, rather than landing straight as I think it should? Basically, I end up with a curve of about 90 to the left, consisting of the last 6ish feet of line. I should mention I practice with line only, no leader and ofcourse no fly, since Im on my lawn.

Ive no doubt my casting technique is terrible, but I cant pinpoint what Im doing that causes the line to curl at the end like this. 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. But this cant be right because I see so many anglers with their rods held at an angle while casting, and they get perfect, dead straight and gentle presentation.

On the water, with a leader of around 9-10ft, its the leader that then adopts this curl at the end, though I think the line may curl a bit also - I will pay more attention when I go fishing tomorrow!

Sorry for blabbing on there.

Basically, when I cast the line out, it lands on the grass - or water - with a curl at the end, to the left. I hold the rod with my right hand, also, encase thats important.

So, any ideas? Its quite annoying that my younger cousin can cast straight (thought not as far! ;D) and I cant!

Any helps or tips would be appreciated, cheers!

juro 06-23-2006 05:36 PM


I think you've already pointed out the cause. You see the tapering of the line down thru the leader acts like a brake taking the energy turning over thru the line and dampening it, or rather reducing energy to a whisper if you go fine enough.

Thus you need to first add an appropriate leader, then see if it still hooks or doglegs to one side. Also add a small puff of yarn to the end so there is a small bit of wind resistance on the very end to prevent cracking like a whip.

Give that a try and tell us what happens.

TjP 06-23-2006 05:44 PM

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 =)

juro 06-23-2006 05:53 PM

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.

TjP 06-23-2006 06:09 PM

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.

Eric 06-23-2006 08:26 PM

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.



TjP 06-24-2006 05:45 PM

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!

Paxton 06-25-2006 10:55 AM

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.

TjP 06-25-2006 12:56 PM

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.

jlsmithii 06-25-2006 02:07 PM

[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.

juro 06-26-2006 07:29 AM

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.

TjP 06-26-2006 01:32 PM

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 =)

Eric 06-26-2006 11:19 PM

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

TjP 06-29-2006 05:24 PM

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! :razz:

2HandTheSalt 06-30-2006 04:37 AM

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

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