This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 7th, 2001

A Little Slack?

No way! At least not when we're talking about casting. Even if I do sound like a cartoon character, Slack Is Our Enemy!

What slack? Where?

Lefty Kreh does a great example on slack. Say you want to move the sprinkler on the hose. The hose is laid out with some curves in it. If you pull on the hose close to you, the sprinkler itself doesn't move until all the curves of hose between you and the sprinkler are gone. Once you remove the 'slack' the sprinkler moves!

Note line between line hand and stripping guide The same thing applies to the fly line in most instances of casting. The vital place to not have slack is between your line hand and the stripping guide. No matter where you are in your casting stroke, forward or back cast, the line between your hand and the stripping guide must be straight, taut.

Go back to the hose example, if you want something to happen with the end of your fly line, all the slack has to be taken out before the end will move. If you have a loop of slack between your stripping guide and your hand, it will take a good portion of your casting stroke to remove the slack. That leaves very little for the actual stroke. Instead of having a nice cast, the cast doesn't go very far because there wasn't enough power, (energy) in the shortened stoke to propel the line.

It doesn't matter if you are casting 20 feet or 60. The same principal applies. You can blow a short cast just as easily as a long one.

How do we get rid of the slack?

Start by casting with a length of line you know you can control. If you're using a weight forward line, the fat part of the line should be in your line hand before you begin to cast. If you want to cast farther, add very small increments, not more than two feet, of line into your back cast. As you add line, both the arc of the cast, and the length of time before you make a forward or back cast change. More line requires more time for the line to straighten out. If the line doesn't straighten out, you have lost the energy of the cast.

How do you know if the line has straightened out? Turn your head over your shoulder and watch the back cast!

The speed of the line, (also called line speed) when proper will propel the line! There won't be any slack between your hand and the stripping guide because the weight of the line has pulled the line straight.

You can increase line speed by simply speeding up the casting stroke, or by adding a double haul.

Here's something to try. The next time you practice, see how slow a stroke you can make and still have the line go out straight. I think you will be surprised. Then, start speeding up your casting stroke. Just a little to start out, but keep speeding up the stroke until you find the line pulling out on its own; the place where the line is absolutely straight behind you AND between your hand and the stripping guide.

Once you've found that, add two feet of line and do it again. Just by doing this exercise you will find the differences required by various line lengths. Do it enough times and it will become automatic.

It certainly will improve you casting, not to mention your fishing! ~ LadyFisher

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