I am putting together a training sequence called 'three steps to a full line' for two-handed casters. My intent with this is to demystify casting the Atlantis, and it's free for owners. By full line I mean 115ft casts from foot to fly minus wiggles, or a 105ft tarpon intermediate line with a 10ft leader. (We can play around with much longer distances with shooting heads and running lines as well)
As this gets completed and I try to figure out when to get together, I thought I would post a few notes:
Step one: Getting to two hands from one
This part will talk about the changes you will encounter from an ingrained single handed casting style to a two-handed overhead casting style.
- line is held by rod hands, there is no line hand
- line is slipped through fingers in rod grip to lengthen false casts
- no double haul, just a lower pull
- stroke is easier to throw off track because of the pulling of the bottom hand and longer rod
- rod is prone to dip (butt trunking) during backcast because of kickout of butt to power backcast
- straight tracking is critical to good cast
- more abrupt stroke and higher stop to shoot
- both shooting heads and whole lines
- setup techniques - sideslip, shooting roll, snake, circle
- stroke-tracking improvement exercises are important
At end of part I - comfortable setting up, lifting and stroke making smooth minimum effort casts with clean loop shape, angle and loop elevation. Distance unimportant, only loops that track well and are formed correctly.
Part II: Adding acceleration
Making sure all of part I is working, work on applying a smooth acceleration to a hard stop at the proper point in the stroke, and shooting running line. This should result in consistent, clean 85 foot casts from both shoulders, either left-up or cross-handed. The motion should be effortless and the results consistent.
- from proper stop on backcast, make a final stroke that accelerates just a little more than false casts
- shoot running line and finish with rod angle correct
- focus on 'alley' where the loop needs to travel
Outcome: get a working cast without any exertion, just a little bit of acceleration added.
Part III: Extending the stroke length, adding more acceleration to maximize the cast.
Part III should put the backing knot into the guides with little more than a drift at the end of the backcast to lengthen the stroke and a touch more acceleration. The angle of the rod must not be dipped down, "no trunking" during the backward drift. The drift allows the backcast to travel backward in the stroke, giving the angler a longer potential stroke length to leverage in the path of acceleration.
- alignment of the loop (angle of aim)
- elevation of the loop
- acceleration method (leading before the snap/stop), smooth leading acceleration to a powerful snap
- attention to shape of loop
- shooting of running line
- ease of execution
I think the single factor that makes casting the Atlantis easier for the practitioner is learning to relax and let the rod do the work, which is how it was designed to be cast. This simple three-step method makes the caster feel out the simple basics - stroke, acceleration and shooting techniques. Give them a try and I hope we can get together with the long rods soon.
The most common problems people I see people have with their recently acquired two-handers include:
Excessive overhang - Too much of the running line is put out and a big hinge is introduced into the casting stroke. I am prone to go for too much overhand on occasion, so am very familiar with the problems it introduces.
Rod path - a longer rod with a power plant at the butt often gets yanked out of a straight path of travel, which is even more important for two-handed casting than for single handed casting since there is no double haul to overdrive the stroke out of trouble.
Line slipping thru hands - Single handed casting uses a 'free' hand to hold the line, two-handed casting can not. A three finger grip (under the middle finger, against the ring and index either side) dramatically improves the holding and slipping power of the hand against the line.
Application of power in the casting stroke - acceleration is not smooth or gradual leading to the speed/stop. Essentially trying too hard instead of letting the rod do the work.
Familiarizing with setting up between casts - Short heads, long heads, etc. Longer heads require a little more technique to roll out to aerialize but hold their loop over greater distances. Short lines are expedient and effective in carrying big flies out there. The angler needs to choose the weapon for what they plan to do.
The top ferrule should be taped. It's far enough away so that it doesn't get checked and if it comes loose and you try to cast 600 grains it's not going to survive the shock. Please tape the top ferrule of any two-handed rod as the spey afficionados out west and in Europe all do.