Holding the Rod Properly

by Fly Fisherman

The fly fishing rod ought be held  lightly, with the fingers held comfortably around it, the thumb placed either on top of the rod or down a hit on the side of the grip—whichever appears more instinctive. Either hold is acceptable and a lot of casters use both, at one time or another. Some casters advocate putting the index finger along the top of the rod handle, but this hold intervenes with free action and power. I use the grip with the thumb down on the inside of the rod handle because I feel that this makes for easier delivery and is less tiring during a whole day of fishing. Nevertheless there is very little difference between the two s grips.

The quickest way to good casting is to master the basic straightaway forward throw. Every other cast stems from this and I know plenty of fly fishermen who have never gone beyond it, yet take their share of fish.
There are three parts to the forward cast—pick-up, backcast, and forward throw—and each depends on the other. A good pick-up means a good backcast and a good backcast means a good forward cast.
“But how can I get out enough line to make a cast?” asked one young lad I was teaching. He pointed to the flimsy leader and two feet of line hanging from his rod tip. Ile’d been false casting that back and forth for several minutes, getting nowhere.

So I explained: when starting from scratch, like that, pull a ; couple of feet of line off the reel with the left hand, start working the rod back and forth, false casting. The moving rod will pick up the line and pull it through the guides. Then, still false casting, pull several more feet from the reel and work that out, and soon you’ll have enough line in the air to make the forward cast.

Another way to get initial line out is to strip line from the reel and let it drop on the water or the ground, or on the bottom of the boat, as the case may be, and then start false casting. On each false cast, then, shoot several feet of line out, until you have enough to cast.

For the pick-up, bring the end of the line in on the water to about 35 feet from the rod tip, so the line will not be too long to control and the weight of it won’t overload, or even snap the rod tip. Now extend the arm out toward the fly, then raise the rod to a 4o-degree angle. This will lift most of the line from the water, and as you keep it coming slowly toward you, lift the rod tip slowly until only a foot or two of leader and the fly remain to be raised.

From this point a backward and upward flip of the wrist will lift the fly with scarcely any water disturbance. The line will shoot smartly back, high up, the leader and fly following it, and then roll over and straighten out. Stop the wrist and rod at about the 2 o’clock position and—while the line is still rolling over—drop the arm about five inches, keeping the elbow bent, then start the forward throw.

To do this, bring the wrist forward (not downward) with a slow snap, as if you would be pounding a nail on the fence in front of you and at about the level of the top of your head. Aim the cast slightly above the parallel to the water, not down at it. Follow through with the rod and stop the rod when it is in front of you at about 45 degrees above the horizontal. The line will keep shooting on out until the leader and fly at its end will roll over, straighten out, and drop lightly to the water.

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