Watchin' For You!

J. Castwell
October 19th, 1998


It's funny how sometimes very little things can make such a big difference. I recently had the opportunity to 'help, coach, check-out, etc' my friend Ray with his fly casting. There were a few folks with us as well; Al and Kate from my local ISP, my wife and Rays wife, Carla. Enough to 'put a little pressure' on him. Good test. We went out into the street in front of our home here and as we have very little traffic it was not a problem. I took a six-weight rod and line that is used only for casting practice in the street. It gets pretty messed up with the oil, but I clean it often.

A light breeze was up and it was a fine time to see what could be done. Facing into the wind, Ray took a few casts to warm up. Most were in the range of sixty to seventy feet and were close to perfect. His wife commented to me about how wonderfully he could cast and she seemed to be right. The style was one of crisp, tight, well-defined control. It was a bit like a good dry fly caster using a longer line. And that is what can bring about problems.

But, he didn't seem to have any problems. With power and control Ray could form perfect loops in front and in back, using a double-haul on all line lengths. It seemed to me he might have been a bit too tight, too compact, trying a bit too hard. The line would be held to about fifty feet and then shot to as far as the cast would carry. All was well. His timing on the double-haul was 'bang-on.' Not too soon, not too late. But, I kept watching, as he wanted me to do, until something might show up.

After about fifteen minutes he was 'pitching' the rig for all he was worth. I should mention here, Ray is from the east coast where he fishes a very long line in the salt-chuck for sea-run fish. He wanted me to see if his long-line casting was about as good as it could be. His stance never changed; always the right foot about twelve inches to the back. A nice shoulder roll (but, not too much) into the back cast, and a fine pull and stroke into the front cast. He knew how to control the shape of his loops by varying the length of his double-haul pull. Still, there was always a bit of fly line left between the reel and the stripping guide at the end of the cast.. Ray wanted the whole ninety feet of fly line to exit the rod.

By this time, so did the 'cheering-section,' who were in attendance. The 'flaw' finally did show itself. Here I must say that it was so small so as to go undetected for many casts; but luckily I did spot it and explained it to him.

As Ray would let out even more fly line he did not change the timing of his double-haul pull. A small thing, but, critical to accomplish what he was after. In the shorter distances, his pull was timed to load the rod just before the rod became vertical. The rod had the power to take the pull and deliver the line forward. By maintaining the exact same timing with the longer fly line he was a bit 'collapsing' the rod on the forward cast.

The 'fix,' if you can call it that, was to start the pull of the double-haul a bit sooner. This increased the line speed while the rod was only starting to load. The resulting combination allowed the rod to 'load' deeper, more in the middle, not so far toward the tip. This slight change in timing added about fifteen feet to his final cast.

A note here. His style was so ingrained from so many years of fly casting he had trouble changing his stroke to the earlier timing pull. When I had him move his right foot up even with his left, it changed his mental picture, and he was able to change his timing. After which, he then moved his right foot back a bit. The final suggestion was to practice casting so it looked 'pretty.' I call it 'show-casting.' It is a very controlled, very smooth, very fluid style. It makes long-line fly casting look very easy. And when done that way, it really is.

Kinda like telling a good story; it's all in the timing. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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