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Fly Fishing 101, Part 10
Casting Basics

Do you remember an old safety rhyme from your childhood? Stop, look and listen before you cross the street ... I've used this phrase in an attempt to put the basics of fly casting into a form you can remember. No matter how good you become at casting, there are days when things just don't seem to work. Not that it ever happened to me personally, of course. (Yeah right!) But I do hear about these things.

Go back to the basics. STOP. You have to stop the rod for the line to go. LOOK. Watch the loops of fly line. Practice making a big letter "C" loop. Then work on the tight letter "J" loops. Lefty Kreh (one of fly fishing's more noted authors, who has probably taught more people to cast than anyone) teaches an exercise to his students that helps the caster have a better understanding of the relationship between the casting stroke and the line. Remember, what happens in the stroke and the resultant action of the line is up to you. Neither the rod, nor the line has any life of it's own. You impart the life.

Here is Lefty's exercise: With about 30 feet of line, make a couple of normal casts. Now try to come really close to the tip of your rod with the end of your leader (without actually hitting the rod). Play around with this. It will show that in trying to come really close to the tip with the line, you have to use a short stroke. Don't just read about doing it: Do it!

I've already given out the third part of the basics. It is LISTEN. You can find out a lot by listening to your casting. Most folks will do the back-cast so you don't hear anything but the line itself. But on the forward cast there may be a "whoosh" sound. That whoosh sound relates to making a proper stop on the cast. The cast becomes a wave instead of a casting stroke.

Without the stop, (a hard stop) the sound is just the rod traveling through the air. Another of the big names in teaching fly fishing, Al Kyte in California, teaches basically the same elements to casting. The exception is when his students are making an acceptable cast, he tells them to make the same cast but use half the effort. Relax.

This is supposed to be fun, not aerobics. Once learned, fly casting is something you can do for the rest of your life. I don't think I said it was easy to learn. Listen for the whoosh. No whoosh? Terrific.

This is very basic casting, but enough to get you out there. Of course, there are lots of other things about casting to learn. We will work on those in the future. What we have covered will allow you to develop your casting and maybe even catch a fish.

Not everything works for everyone, but I had a student who was a harpist. She used a pair of golf gloves to fly cast. She felt she had a better grip on the rod and line with them.

Back to the videos I mentioned last time. Go out and rent anybody's casting video. I would like you to watch it twice. Once with the sound turned off. Look for the basic elements we have been working on. Watch it again with the sound on.

All instructors have different teaching methods. Sometimes using a different phrase or name for a movement or action makes more sense to an engineer type than it does to a poet. Give it a shot. Maybe the light will turn on.

Stop by the Chat Room and meet some fellow anglers. It is a nice bunch of people - always willing to help new fly fishers! Or just share your fishing adventures. Fair skys and tight lines, ~ DB

Have a question? Email me!

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