Basic Casting 1

by Fly Fisherman

PARADOXICALLY, so difficult yet so simple.
The procedure of fly casting has been outlined so often in articles, books and pamphlets that the very multiplicity of the instructions may have caused confusion. Many varying methods of describing the “DO’S” and “DON’TS” by each individual writer, each trying to tell it differently, makes it seem as if there were a number of correct ways to perform. There is however exactly one, and only one right method.
If the reader has done considerable casting or if he has done none to speak of, I am going to request that we enter into this dissertation as if we’re just starting to learn the process.

As you work, THINK every cast through. Do not be haphazard and do not presume that good results might accidentally come to you without too much work. They won’t! And casting is a two-handed job (you’ll wish sometimes you had a couple of extra hands but two is enough if manipulated correctly). If you’re right-handed you’ll find your left one is of equal importance in working with the other. The rule of successful fly rod casting is easily stated, and easily imagined, but A may take a bit of practice to have it become more or less automatic.

(This has been described as 12 o’clock if you can imagine the clockface facing you as you cast.)

(Now here’s where imagination will play a strong part. The line will not go straight up but it will go high enough so that there is no danger of low bushes being lassoed and the formation of a controlled loop in your line will follow as a matter of course.)
If you are using a soft action rod, as are most bamboo rods and many of glass, too, the rod will necessarily have to come back slightly further on the back cast than the “vertical” restriction. Do not permit the rod to go back, however, more than one hour on the clock if you desire a real good cast. In the following instructions, we will suppose that your rod is one of the better grades of the modern tip action variety, where the power is generated comparatively slowly at the butt, racing faster and faster up its length to the tip where it literally sprints with speed and power.

Many good casters permit even the best rods to drift backward beyond the vertical, particularly on casts where the line is extended beyond the 35-foot and 40-foot distances. It seems a natural thing to do, but certainly is not necessary, and those same casters would improve their score if they would restrain themselves and hold the rod more nearly vertical. The tip is going to go back with the line anyway to some degree, why the whole rod? If a cast is better with the rod tilted backward even to a minor degree why wouldn’t it be increasingly better if the rod went back to the horizontal or 3 o’clock position? It just isn’t logical. Some say they let the rod drift backward to avoid a bump. If the timing is accurate, no bump will occur in any instance.

Please read and reread those capitalized sentences until they become a part of you. Regardless of any other instruction, those are the two most important practices that you can do. Without them your cast will fail. With them and only them, plus just a natural sense of timing, and you are bound to succeed. (Note Fig. 32.)

I have observed beginning students of casting working the naked rod only to get the movement and feel in mind. Of course the total feel will not be there, however this might be a good beginning. Start with the rod exactly vertical, your thumb on the grip, your aim at an approximate 90-degree angle, and relaxed. Push the rod forward with the thumb, wrist and forearm. This is done, not jerkily, but with an increasing
force that might be called a “kick” as it terminates. As you perform this accelerated movement, pierce or spear the air with the tip, which will naturally raise the whole rod somewhat. Remember, start easily but forcefully and finish strongly. Imagine the clock facing you again on your right. Stop the rod immediately at 10 o’clock. Hold, while your imaginary line is rolling out in front of you. When it has reached its length, then you can gently lower the rod tip rather than permit the imaginary fly to jerk and flick backward or sideways. Now raise the rod gently to about the 10 o’clock position. This will tend to straighten out any slack which may have formed in the line. Without pausing, bring the rod up sharply to the 12 o’clock vertical position, throwing the line straight up. As this movement is entered into, raise the whole rod to a minor extent rather than operating it as on a hinge. This is an air piercing action also. Pause for line to ALMOST complete its loop formation at your rear, then repeat the procedure.


1—Take up slack—start back cast.
2—Sweep line up high—stop abruptly at 12 o’clock.
3—Hold while line is straightening behind you in the air.
4—At exact moment, when backcast line has about completed its “turnover”, (too soon
will cause a lashing snap—too late will permit line to fall downward) forcefully push it forward until rod has reached the 10:30 o’clock position—hold until ‘turnover’ of line is about complete—* then ease rod downward permitting fly to drop lightly to water surface.
* If false casting, the next backcast will start at this point.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: