July 21st, 2003

Better Back Casts
By James Castwell


Many times a casting instructor will have a student turn his head and watch his own back-cast. This is often a fine idea, I have used it many times. If a guy will watch three back-casts in a row, he will be amazed at how quickly he can correct bad loops, poor timing or low line speed.

But, he may introduce a new problem, sometimes more than one. When a back-cast is too big and wafting, turning and watching may encourage a harder stroke and harder stop, more line speed or better timing, but it will almost cause the reel to swing out to the side and the casting shoulder to drop. Both of these are to be avoided.

Sometime when you are 'lawn' casting with a buddy, stand directly in front of him, but far enough out so you don't get in the way of his cast and watch his back-cast. More often than not you will see his forward cast come straight at you and his back-cast will be more of an oval, off to his right side, very inefficient.

When you are casting, coming back with the rod into the back-cast, the rod is bent toward the front, the guides are on the bottom, your thumb (usually) is on top of the grip, (knuckles facing you) and the reel is pointed down. As you come back and are turning your head to watch your fly-line, the tendency is to drop your right shoulder, the back of your thumb now faces you (knuckles are now hidden) and with the reel is now pointed away from you.

If you are casting a long line, as the cast stops you may find your reel actually pointing straight back. This is not a 'good thing.' When you start the cast, let's say the reel is below the rod at a position of 7 o'clock and at the end of a long line cast it should be at 11 o'clock, maybe even 12 o'clock. At the back 'stop' the reel should be between 10 and 11 o'clock and a drift to (straight up) 12 o'clock. The reel should not change in the plane it travels. Because the rod was bent down at the start of the cast it should travel directly back also without changing it's plane so the tip can unload (recoil) directly back without any twisting.

All of this will increase your line speed and efficiency. But, it is not always easy to make all of this happen. You might even need to learn how and actually practice to make it a regular part of how you cast. If you have a chance to watch some of the truly great fly-casters, Randi Swisher comes immediately to my mind, look for that little piece of the cast. Due to personal choices of grip, some may start out with the reel a bit off to the side but, it will stay in the same plane all the way. It is simply the most efficient way to do it.

If you have trouble getting your cast to perform well, you might try this. Stand with both feet side by side, touching, pointing straight ahead. No, you will not fish this way, we're working on something here, ok? Start casting and as you bring the rod back into the back-cast, slightly tighten your grip and squeeze your fingers toward you. This will slightly twist the rod handle and help keep the rod and reel in the same plane and not swinging out. A bit of practice will make this seem natural. Now with that at least somewhat under control, step into your normal comfortable casting stance but, for six casts in a row, totally control the plane of the rod and reel, keeping it in proper alignment.

Many of these are small trivial things, but when rolled together can make a big difference in your overall casting. Heck, at least you will look better. ~ James Castwell


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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