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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After some recent casting classes and watching folks attempt to make casts in challenging conditions, I was pondering suggestions for improvements. I also talked with one of our better-known fly fishing guides at the coast to compare notes based on his clients. There seems to be a common thread and the simplest advice seems to be "...put some muscle into it!" Without going into a long dialog about how to cast (which is all over the internet and youtube) here are some simple pointers for folks venturing into bigger water...

When you need to make a longer cast, using bigger flies and maybe in windy conditions, you need more power. Keep a stiff wrist and use the power of the forearm or the entire arm to make the cast using a much longer rod stroke....not to be confused with the length of the arc traveled by the rod tip. Rod stroke length is similar to throwing a baseball from the outfield to home plate....you make a powerful throw....starting with a powerful stretch of the arm behind you.

The backcast is the key to a good cast and must be made with power, so the line travels up in the air behind the angler, or straight back with enough energy so that it doesn't fall, or slap the ground or the water before starting the front cast. Weak and wimpy backcasts are a common problem. Anglers who want to improve their casting should concentrate on throwing more power into their backcast...often with the rod parallel to the water or at a 45 degree angle, casting or "unrolling" the fly line back and forth using the whole arm....rather than up and down with just the motion of the forearm.

In order to start a good backcast, the rod tip should be close to the water (not pointing up in the air) AND the line should be straight out in front of the angler with no slack in the line. If the line is not straight out, you loose the ability to immediately put power into the backcast because you are lifting or moving the rod back to first remove the slack. If there is slack in the line, often the angler reaches the end of his back stroke and the line is still lying in the water. Immediate defeat. So....develop a good roll cast and a roll cast pickup. The roll cast is a critical basic skill for any angler and it's easy to learn. The roll cast can be used to straighten the line out on the water in front of you, important for removing all the slack and getting the end of the line moving, in preparation for a backcast...

Turn your body at a 45 degree angle to the cast direction so you can easily observe what is happening to the backcast as it unrolls in the air behind you. Once you can see it, you can begin to correct it.

Fly fishermen often hear of other techniques, like the double haul, that are useful for longer casts in challenging conditions. First, however, you must develop good, basic casting skills that allow you to impart power into your roll casts and backcasts. Develop strength and power in these fundamentals, before working on advanced techniques.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yea...I see misplaced muscle in the forward cast on a regular basis...

It was very rewarding at the fly expo this weekend to watch folks in the casting pond working with good instructors. I saw quite a few folks, particularly young folks, transition from "windshield wiper" casters to folks that were beginning to throw tight loops with efficiency. Sweet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
observe what is happening to the backcast
working with good instructors
think the foward cast is where you need to apply the muscle
Reflecting back on this last weekend, watching folks improving their cast, I don't think I saw many actually look at their backcast. Perhaps that's because most everyone had a "coach" standing next to them, giving them tips and pointers and corrective advice. The coaches were watching the student's backcast, but the student's were often fixated on what was happening in front of them.

I often watch folks practice their casting over and over, and all they are focused on is the front cast i.e. the end result. They keep trying to make the front cast better without seeing or realizing what is happening (or not happening) on their backcast...and working to correct the errors in their backcast. I suspect that if they were aware of what the backcast was like...they could begin adjusting and correcting their backstroke. Lefty Kreh is fond of saying that people don't look at their backcast cause they don't like what they see. Ed Jawarowski (spelling ?) has published an excellent book showing diagrams of different faults in the backcast and explaining how to correct them.

If you have a good backcast that stays elevated and unrolls in the air behind you, rather than dipping and slumping toward the ground or water, the front cast requires very little power to unroll in front and turn the fly over.
 

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The hardest part for me I think is timing the backcast as I chance cast lengths and types of flies, I think that when I hit the water/ground behind me or don't let the backcast unroll properly it is more timing than power. I need to try changing my stance so that I can watch the backcast.

Darrell
 
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