Learning Fly Casting
Grasping the rod in the right hand, reel down, and thumb extended on top of the grip, draw from the reel about twelve or fifteen feet of line, letting the slack fall to the ground at your feet, but holding onto the line with your left hand. Now point the rod out towards the place you want to cast to, say twenty-five or thirty feet away, and keeping the elbow close to the side, throw the tip of the rod upward to a vertical position, or perhaps back over the shoulder slightly, making this movement very quickly. If properly done the line shoots high up into the air and then stretches out behind, and just when it is fully stretched, make the forward cast, an easy, downward sweep of the rod, stopping it when it points out towards, but several yards above, the spot you want to cast to. As the line stretches out ahead of you at the end of this forward cast, release the line you have been holding and the momentum of the free line draws out the slack line that has been drawn from the reel.
To make the fly fall lightly on the water, and fall before the line does, elevate the tip of the rod gently just before the fly touches the water, also, to keep the fly from striking with a "spat," cast at a spot about a yard above the water.
The most difficult thing for the amateur to learn is just how long to pause after the back-cast before making the forward cast. This pause must be just long enough to let the line straighten out and pull gently on the rod tip. If you pause too long the line drops and strikes the ground or water, and if you make the forward cast before the line has straightened out you will snap the flies off the snell. An expert can feel the pull of the line on the rod tip, as the line straightens out behind, and the amateur can soon learn to wait for this. If you hear a sharp little snap behind you, you are not pausing long enough — you have made the forward cast before the line has straightened out.
Avoid throwing the rod too far past the perpendicular as you can never become a good caster as long as you do that. The rod should be carried little if any beyond the vertical line and the bend of the rod will usually be enough to give it some angle beyond. When your thumb on the grip points upward, stop. Also avoid a sudden stop at the termination of the forward cast, as it causes a double movement in the rod tip which spoils the cast, and do not release the line too quickly; it is better to wait until you feel a light pull, then release it.
But thirty feet is not a long cast and you may wonder how you are to reach more distant spots that you always thought could be reached by casting. To do so you simply make a second, a third, or even a fourth cast. With the length of your first cast out you draw a few yards more line from the reel and make another cast. It is made in the same manner as the first, except that with the longer line you must pause longer before making the forward cast. In fishing with an artificial bait we cast the longest distance possible and then reel in the bait. In fly fishing we fish the nearer water first and gradually lengthen the cast and reach other water, but even if you do not want to fish the nearer water, you must reach the extreme distance by a number of casts as described.
The beginner should learn first to cast accurately, and make the fly fall gently at the shorter distance, before trying to cast far. Even in fishing, accuracy and a light dropping of the fly count for more than distance, but both are points to strive for. When you have learned to cast easily at short distances you can try casting farther, and it is easier learned that way, also less likely to discourage the beginner.
You need not go fishing in order to learn casting — you can learn it out on any smooth, level piece of ground. Select a place where the ground is covered with short grass so that the line will not be injured. Place your hat on the grass, or a newspaper, weighted with little stones on the corners. You don't need a leader or fly, just the bare line, but you can tie some small white object on the end, like a bit of white string, so that you can easily see where the end of the line falls.
Remember, the rod used has much to do with the casting— in a way it is the rod that makes the cast, anyway the rod that has a lively spring — no suggestion of weakness or slow action — is the one that casts best. A long cast cannot be made with a very light rod, for with a light rod a light line must be used and the combination does not spell distance. The expensive rods are best, but the amateur should not buy an expensive rod to learn casting with; he can use one after he becomes expert with the cheaper one. The fact that in tournament work, all of the longest casts have been made with split bamboo rods is significant.
This is the overhead method of casting the fly, and all fly fishers use it more than the other ways but the method is frequently varied by the different fishermen. Some, when they finish the forward cast, straighten out the arm, giving more force to the movement, and some make the complete cast by giving the rod a sweeping movement somewhat on the line of a horseshoe, making the back-cast over the left shoulder and the forward cast from the right, somewhat like a teamster cracks a long-lashed whip near the lead-team's ears.
Brooks, Lake. The Science of Fishing. Columbus, OH: A.R. Harding, 1912. Print.
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