Fly Fishing Forum - View Single Post - Holding line with line hand
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Old 07-10-2007, 05:04 AM
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juro juro is offline
Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Steelhead country|striper coast|bonefish belt
Posts: 20,594
There are many ways to skin this cat.

Ounce of Prevention

Unless you are feeding line into the drift, reel up anything you aren't casting. No sense is having line around that is not in play.

Zig zag it out

By flexing the rod side to side in the right cadence the line will pull out of the guides easily. Then you roll cast it out and are able to load the rod usually with just one backcast and zero false casts.

Slip and flip

leaving the fly in the water, pull the rod horizontally to the side letting the line slip out thru the tip gradually coming up to the roll cast firing position, then make a flip cast letting the rest of the head slide thru the tip. If done right, the whole head will be laying on the water in front of you and you can lift the line right into a fully loaded backcast.

Back on topic

Ok as far as line loops and line hand technique...

I use the surface between my thumb and index finger as the gripper and the 3remaining fingers as individual loop holders.

The index finger should be curled around like a candy cane around the end of the thumb. The line is best slipped and gripped somewhere along this surface, most typically in the 'claw' for me.

Practice with no loops on grass. Just lay a pile on the grass. Put out say half the head (15-20 ft) and practice slipping the line and gripping the line in this manner...


where stroke is the bending of the rod and rest is the time you wait for the line to straighten out in the air. Obviously if you slip on the stroke the whole cast loses energy like a deflating balloon. Slip only in between strokes.

**As an advanced topic, using a haul will increase the amount of line you can slip between strokes thus reducing the number of false casts to get line out. That's a topic for another day.

Loops in the fingers

Ok once you are slipping and gripping the line off the ground you can add loop management techniques.

Once the line is fully cast out, strip in the line with your left hand using the rod hand's index finger as a guide. Start with just two line hand loops, about 3 feet in length. That means you are holding about 12 feet of line in your left hand.

Strip using the thumb/index claw until you are ready to hold a loop - at which point you grab the line with your loose fingers (first loop = pinky/ring, second loop ring middle, etc) and then continue stripping with the main index/thumb claw until you are ready to make the next loop, repeat.

It's important to note that the line hand should draw the line thru the rod finger in a manner that does not disrupt your loops once held since the working hand is simultaneously holding line while stripping more.

(a video here would help but I think you know what I mean here)

Now go back to your cast... slipping from loops

Where you were slipping line (slip/rest) without any loops / line laying on the grass you now allow line to be pulled into the cast from the loops. Ideally your technique will allow for the head of the line to get back in the air on the first or second stroke.

Keep in mind that fly rods are designed to be matched with the head portion of your flyline so until thats in the air you are going to be under-gunned and whipping back and forth without much happening for your trouble. In contrast get the head out and you are instantly in business.

Once the head is in the air you should be able to shoot a few loops just by letting them go after the forward cast is underway. I will mention the haul again here since it really does eliminate false casts.

You mentioned 5 loops. That's a lot to start. That could mean you are stripping right to the tip top, using very small loops or you're casting a hell of a lot of line which is good. When learning to use the line hand start with two and leave more line out of the tip top between casts.

Stripping baskets are ideal for fisheries where you strip right to the leader knot. They are also very good for boat fishing. Even if you do get your loops down pat you should consider one for your boat. They are easy to make for a couple of dollars.

Then if you add the zigzags and slip&flip tricks you will soon be eliminating false casts so that one is enough even for long casts.

Hang in there and keep practicing!
IFFF Certified THCI @ 2005
Capeflyfisher Guide Service
Island Hopper, Guitarist, Incurable Dreamer
and Founder, Worldwide Flyfishing Forum

Last edited by juro; 07-10-2007 at 05:17 AM.
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