Thank you very much, everyone, for your advice. I printed this out and practiced casting today. It went a little bit better for me. Towards the end, I was able to shoot a fair amount of line. A couple of times, I got to 60' from around 40' with one backcast. More normally, I was lifting up about 30' of line and shooting to about 50'. Of course, about a third of my casts were flops that ended up in piles on the water. I even managed once to get a knot in my fly line (!), not the leader.
It really helps me to have specific things to work on. So today I focused on lifting 30' of line out of the water cleanly (more than I've done before), trying to get a straight backcast with a little tug on the end of it so that I could get the forward cast going, and managing the loops with my line hand.
1. It really helps not to have a foam bass bug on the end of my line!
2. I think that a newer, stiffer, slicker line will help me to keep from getting tangles. I've got to go to the fly shop and pick one up.
3. I guess this is not so much like "getting it", like I thought, but more about practicing individual casts, all of which are different, until you can do them passably.
4. I do know how to haul a little bit, and I needed to do that the few times that I got out to 60'. But oddly enough, it made my backcast wavy, even though it loaded the rod more forcefully. Without a haul, I got some nice straight backcasts, but they weren't very powerful.
Is anyone here a bass fisherman? I need some advice on a new rod. This 5 weight just isn't cutting it with the big flies I want to throw. I've read that a medium-fast action fly rod is best for bass, because it throws wide loops and most fishing is done close in, but I'm thinking of a faster action rod. I read an article years ago about how Ted Williams was able to get smallmouth bass to rise in the middle of summer to bass bugs, by casting them extremely far. So there are some situations where a long cast would help in bass fishing. Should I go for a fast-action rod? Will they work with hair bugs and the like? Should I get both a medium-fast action rod (a cheapie, maybe?), and a fast action rod (more expensive)?
And I'm looking for cheap or free flycasting classes in the area. On the Internet I found some guides in my area that will give instruction for a pretty hefty fee, but nothing like a fly fishing club yet. I'm sure they're around though. I'd like to use my disposable income this summer on a new fly rod first.
Your thoughts would be appreciated. Bob