Fly Casting- Throw Away your Watch !

or (Where to Stop the Rod)

as we’ve already seen in Jay and Bill Gammel’s The Five Essentials:
4. The length of the stroke must vary with the amount of line past the rod tip.
“If you are casting a short line you will need a short stroke to move the rod tip along a straight line. If you are casting a longer line the extra weight causes the rod to bend much deeper, and a longer stroke is necessary to keep the rod tip moving in a straight line.” or to make it even simpler- Short line, short stroke – Long line, long stroke.
here, Chris Myers explains and demonstrates this principle very well.

keep that in mind at all times and you’ll pretty much have this ‘Where to Stop the Rod’ business down pat without having to resort to some nonsensical watch face (which hardly if ever works in the real world anyway).
people usually know where 9, 12 and 3 o’clock are, that is, if they don’t invert the 3 and 9… but are typically wrong by at least a half hour and usually a full hour or more if you ask them to point at a given time when compared to a real watch face. i’ve done this experiment many times with a clock face printed on a clear sheet of plastic which i could look through and superimpose both the caster and the clock face. i’ve never kept precise results but at least 90% where off by at least a half hour. that probably doesn’t sound like it would make a big difference in the real world but if this half or full hour (or more !) are off when casting we end up with either a casting stroke that’s too short or too long and it might even tilt the casting plane up or down instead of the intended angle.

now, as fine and unquestionable as the Gammel’s number 4 rule is, there’s still something missing and that has to do with casting tempo/rhythm/cadence/speed. let’s take the example of 30ft of line carried with nicely controlled 3′ loops.
with the same fixed length of line we’ll have a much shorter casting arc and stroke if we’re casting slowly than if we’re casting the exact same 3′ loops with a faster tempo as it needs a longer stroke to avoid having problems.
so, to complete no. 4 we should add Slow cast, Shorter stroke – Faster cast, Longer stroke.

after reading this the beginner might be thinking, “great, it used to be more or less simple and now i have to figure out and combine two principles to get this ‘stopping’ stuff sorted ?.. “ but don’t fret ! because the solution is very simple.
as Chris explains in the video above, simply watch what the line’s doing and adjust from there.
– if the loops are too big, reduce the stroke length.
– loops too small or even colliding, lengthen the stroke.
– if you’re casting faster or slower than usual, lengthen or shorten the stroke accordingly.
– what works for me and what i teach is the stroke (by that i mean the rod tip’s travel) is simply a straight line that gets shorter or longer: ‘more or less’ or changes speed: ‘slower or faster’
its simple, everyone understands this and it doesn’t need a watch to get right. besides, who wants to worry about the time when we’re out by the water ?

10 thoughts on “Fly Casting- Throw Away your Watch !

  1. “– loops too small or making tailing loops, lengthen the stroke.”

    Humm, there must be something else about tails: it doesn’t work at all with the caster in the video! 😉

  2. an interesting comment from buddy Stefan Siikavaara-
    “The clockface might just be the worst terminolgy ever introduced in flycasting. Not only does it convey a static, limiting approach. It also implies that flycasting is done with a rotational movement of the rod only.”

  3. Hi, casting with single hand rod 9ft 9 wt(very fast rod) I developed pain in the hand, elbow and shoulder (scapula). I think that could be the type of grip that grip (thumb at top). What do you think?

    • i don’t think the pain comes from grip style or rod action Dario, but rather that you’re using too much force and doing this inneficiently by contracting muscles and tendons that don’t need to work so hard.
      the difference in rod weight between a 9′ 5wt and 9′ 9wt is what, maybe 10-20 grams at most ?
      the diffence in line weight (first 30 feet of the AFFTA line weight chart) between a 5wt and 9wt line is only about 6 grams.
      9.10 gr for the 5wt
      15.55 gr for the 9wt.
      see what i mean ?

      • Thank you Marc
        My cast style is probably not efficient, I used the rod like a tennis racket casting lateral.
        I recently saw a fly cast video of Plip Pilot in which he use the fore harm with the elbow almost static.
        I think this is a more efficient way to cast and I would like to learn it.
        It seems quite simple and the rod works with an high leverage.
        Best Regards

  4. ok, that’s what i thought. without seeing (so i’m just guessing) this is the result of a conscious or unconscious fear of being hit by the fly line and/or fly. (which is normal, i suppose 😆 )
    but no good can happen by casting with the arm so far away from the body, it reduces efficient movement and puts strain on muscles, tendons and joints that aren’t made to move that way and don’t need to be stressed.
    bring your elbow back next to you, close to your torso where its supposed to be and tilt your forearm and therefore rod tip away to stay safe while still using the same basic casting stroke you’d use when river fishing. fly casting is fly casting, the same principles apply whatever equipment is being used.

    as for Flip Pallot, i’m guessing the video you’ve seen is this one:

    at first glance it does indeed seem that he’s mostly casting with his wrist but we can also see an obvious and necessary movement of his forearm. yes, he does make it look very easy but its also the result of a lot of experience and expertise that comes after a long time of practise.
    please note that he’s not casting a big and heavy streamer. (in fact, i believe that its just a small piece of yarn) if he had been casting a Clouser he wouldn’t be casting such tight loops because tight loops and big heavy streamers don’t go together, its dangerous and counterproductive.
    tight-tight loops are for small and almost weightless flies such as dries, unweighted nymphs and wets. bigger flies need bigger loops.
    keep in mind as well that we are seeing these loops from a tilted angle (not 90° perpendicular) which makes them seem much tighter than they really are…. 😉
    hope that helps !

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