This probably sounds like a really dumb idea. We all know how to fly cast. Well
maybe you'd like some tips from a guy who casts great when people are watching,
but gets sloppy when they are not. Which is not good to do. Actually I'm pretty
accurate and a long caster usually 70 feet on a single cast on average. This has
everything to do with technique and using the rod's torque action efficiently.
Too often I find myself giving my crews tips on ways to improve their casts. This
usually comes down to more efficient ways to haul or double haul. Haul, double
haul is not done as often in freshwater because you don't need casts longer than say
30 to 40 feet. On a saltwater flat stealth and a long cast is the name of the game.
You really can't afford a lot of false casts. You need to get a long cast out there
with as little movement as possible. The haul and double haul executed well will get
a cast out 50 to 70 feet on one cast, two at the most.
When you are in a flats boat, in 18 inches of water or less, any movement (side-to-side)
will create wave action. The wave action translates into sonar signals that spook game
fish. The more motionless that you can be during a cast the more successful you will
be in hook ups and catching fish. I have a close friend who loves to do a perfect cast.
He moves back and forth Lefty can't you talk to this guy? He not only scares the fish
with his side-to-side motion, but he has launched me off the poling platform a countless
number of times.
Let's review some basics:
Casting requires excellent timing and discipline to control the speed of the
loading and unloading of the line on the rod and the eventual release of the
fly to the water. The object (salt and fresh are alike in this respect) is to get
the fly down on the water SOFTLY. If you rush the rod and it's whipping
motion the line will collapse, or worse you'll hook up the guide on the poling
platform or take your friends ear off.
The perfect cast is one where the maximum efficiency of effort is sustained. What
does that mean? Think of casting as a fluid motion. In a golf swing, if it is
done properly, the pro will say, "Didn't feel anything did you?" His point is
the motion and the club or the rod did the work as it should be. In casting, as
in fishing, a lot of what we do and how we do it has to do with the position of our
hands. We are learning to let our equipment do the job. I always tell casters, and
I do this myself, to look at the rod as the line loads and unloads. Have both hands
follow each other during the motion.
If you look at the rod when you load it during a cast, you'll see the tip bend backward;
then you'll see, as well as feel, the mid-section load, and finally you'll feel and notice
the rod bend into the butt. If we had a video camera and you could see this in
slow motion, you'd know exactly what I am referring to.
Though the motion is not quick, the sensation is, because you are releasing energy
through the rod by the accelerating line. Makes sense, right? Do one more thing
during this casting motion. Take the hand that feeds the line (if you are holding the
rod in your right hand, the feed hand is your left hand) and have it follow the motion
of the rod. Both hands are moving in the same direction.
I know Lefty doesn't do it that way. Humor me, try it. This works really well
when I am teaching a novice angler to use a fly rod and it has helped more
experienced anglers as well. It works. What you will find is the haul action
is accentuated more with the feeder hand close to the front cork on the rod. On
the haul you'll pull the line down about 8 inches and feed the line to the back cast.
As you move the rod down and in a parallel motion forward (don't let the loop go
down), the feed hand moves down and hauls again about 8 inches and allows the
line to feed out in the forward cast. Try this. You will be surprised that you've
added another 20 feet to your cast. If you feed slowly then you'll probably need
to back cast again and then forward to a final release.
If you continue the casting motion, you'll feel the energy move from the butt to
the tip, propelling the line outward in a loop that extends away from the rod.
The more you feel in control of the tip at this point, the more you can feel the tip
load and unload during the cast the more control you'll have over the line and
the more effortless and efficient the cast will be.
You will definitely feel the unloading sensation in the final cast to your target.
Efficient casting doesn't have to be pretty, just effective. The most artful casts
(to my friends who love casting into the backing, I apologize) don't always catch fish.
But don't forget your timing. Your aim is to get the fly to the fish as fast and as quietly
as possible. This progressive loading and unloading facilitated by the art of hauling
and double hauling is something to work on. In time you will get comfortable with
the motion and have a great time doing it. This will improve your success, build your
confidence and impress everyone who sees you out on the water enjoying the
very sport we love. ~ Doug
Next time: Four Flies, All You Need!