This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 17th, 2002


It was getting toward dusk. The ocean breeze on Puget Sound had been gusting all afternoon, and instead of dropping with the sun it was rising. Fortunately it was from my left which kept my fly away from me - being a right handed caster a wind from the right means taking special care casting or the chances of wearing a #4 saltwater fly become highly possible.

I can cast in the wind. My eight-weight rod does the job very nicely. But I wasn't getting my fly as far out on the seam created by the tide change as I wanted. I watched our buddy fishing, Big Guy to my right, casting flawlessly. He wasn't having any problem. Obviously he was doing something I wasn't. But what?

The wind dropped for a moment and I could hear him casting. The sound of his line zinging. That's it! My line was not 'zinging!'

There are three important parts to fly casting. STOP the rod, LOOK at your loops, be aware of their shape, and LISTEN to the sound your rod or line make.

The sound of the 'zinging' meant Big Guy had more line speed.

Line speed? You don't hear much about that - but it is very important. The speed at which the line travels makes the difference between a backcast that looks like a downhill roller coaster or a straight line behind you. It also makes a difference on whether or not the line opens fully on the backcast. Having too little line speed leaves a hook or 'j' of line at the end of the line/leader. You can wait all day for the backcast to open, (straighten out completely) but without enough line speed it just won't happen.

On really short casts line speed doesn't come into play as much, unless you are contending with a wind problem. Fishing in the wind, it may make the difference of fishing or not.

Do you have enough line speed?


Do you need more line speed?


How do you increase line speed?

Start by using the double haul. If you haven't learned it yet, follow the animated instruction in Castwell's article The DH HERE. The length of the pull on the double haul controls the shape of the front and back loop. A short, sharp tug makes a small tight loop. A long pull creates a big open loop. If you want your line to travel faster, the short sharp tug creates a tight loop that is less wind resistant and goes faster (and farther).

The second way to increase line speed is to speed up the rhythm of the cast. The casting sequence should be fast enough to cast the line in a straight path on both the forward and backcast, still allowing for the loop to open completely. The line should pass over the top of the rod and unroll like a carpet on the backcast. The forward cast starts just at the instant the line is out straight (without the hook or 'j') and BEFORE the line begins to drop. Once the line has dropped you are also fighting gravity and slack. Remember, slack is our enemy in casting!

No matter how long one has been fishing or casting, it isn't always easy to remember all the parts necessary to make everything work. Standing thigh deep in the saltchuck with waves breaking and the wind blowing does make it easy to forget stuff - especially when you know there are fish there! Forgetting just one little piece can make the difference in catching. In my case, if I wasn't able to get my fly to where I knew the fish were, my chances of catching one were pretty poor.

For those fishing saltwater and sight casting, the window of opportunity to lure a fish to your fly can be very fleeting. Getting the line out to the fish, in a false cast or two requires having line speed quickly. That means using the double haul - and quick casting strokes.

Work on your line speed. Stop the rod - hard. Look at the size and shape of your loops, and listen to the sound of the line. You'll find your casting improves. ~ LadyFisher

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