How to Improve Your Fly-casting
How to Improve Your Fly-casting
In the first place let us consider the apparently unimportant question of how to hold the rod, i.e., the position of the rod hand on the hand grasp. Nine out of ten beginners at fly-casting would say immediately that, provided the caster does not drop the rod, the method of holding is immaterial. Now the veteran fly-caster and the books on fly-fishing will tell you that the proper way to hold the rod is to have the thumb of the rod hand extended along the upper surface of the hand grasp and not bent around it. There must be some reason for this opinion and advice of the experts, and there is a very good one. In fact, there are two reasons.
Good fly-casting, whether considered from the standpoint of accuracy, delicacy, or distance, depends on getting your wrist into the cast. If you make it a practice to grasp the rod as above indicated, with the thumb lying straight along the top of the hand grasp, you will soon find that you are getting your wrist into the cast to a much greater extent than ever before. And when you once find out what a great difference this makes, you will know why, perhaps, your casting theretofore has not been eminently satisfactory or proficient.
If you cast practically at arm's length, as you will often see done, delivering the line with a sweeping motion of the entire arm from the shoulder, of what use to you is a finely constructed fly-rod, made especially with a view to the utmost speed and resilience? Straight-arm casting fails entirely in putting the rod itself to work; the arm motion does it all—and very poorly. But once get the wrist into the cast and you will find the rod, if it is a good one, bending from hand grasp to tip-end and, as a result, the line jumping away as if sent for.
Again, this method of holding the rod results in a greater ability to cast accurately. The rod is under perfect control and the direction of the cast under favorable conditions, will deviate very slightly from the point aimed for. Target shooting with a rifle and casting with a fly rod are similar in that both, quite naturally, require aim. With the thumb pointing along the hand grasp proper initial aim is instinctive and the rod is guided in the right direction throughout the cast.
Another very important point is not to carry the rod too far back on the back cast. This fault simply means that too long a time will elapse between the forward and back casts and that the line will become dead in the rear of the caster. On the back cast the rod should go but slightly beyond the perpendicular; this will keep the line high in the air—the object to be attained—where it will respond at once to a correctly timed forward cast. The line must be kept alive throughout the period covered by the forward and back casts, and nothing is more apt to kill a cast than letting the rod go too far back. You will occasionally see fly-casters carry the rod so far to the rear that the line actually falls on the water behind them.
Try to get a high back cast. When the tip of the rod, in the arc described by the rod in the back cast, reaches a point just over your head, stop the rod; the momentum and bend of the rod will then carry it to just about the right position for starting the forward cast.
And now about starting the forward and back casts: the chief mistake made by beginners in starting the back cast is in starting it too easily. Timing the when ready lift the line from the water with a strong, snappy, backward wrist motion, so that it will have sufficient speed to straighten out behind you before beginning to fall toward the water. This, too, will help in attaining the high back cast mentioned above. Do not delay starting the back cast too long; begin it when the flies are well away from you.
In the paragraph above I have suggested waiting for the line to straighten out behind the caster on the back cast, that is, before beginning the forward cast. Instantaneous photographs of expert casters, however, show that in actual practice the line does not entirely straighten out in the rear before the forward cast is started; that, in fact, there is a considerable loop at the end of the line which straightens out just after the caster begins the forward cast. The theory of this is quite plain. If, when casting a rather long line, you wait until the line becomes quite straight behind you, you wait just long enough for the line to lose its life. The forward cast, then, should be started when the line, having passed to the rear of the caster, first begins to pull appreciably on the rod.
On the other hand, do not start the forward cast too quickly, because this is liable to snap off the end fly. Correct timing of the forward cast is one of the greatest factors in clean-cut casting. Do not start the forward cast too strenuously. The speed of the rod when passing through the arc of the forward cast should be greater toward the finish. At the end of the forward cast the rod should be a little above parallel with the water,
Camp, Samuel Granger. The Fine Art of Fishing. New York: Outing Pub., 1911. Print.
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