Fly Casting Secrets

or, what maybe used to be secrets but aren’t any more.

in fact, a lot of those secrets are now more than questionable but thats why i find this old gem from Jim Green filmed in 1975 to be just that: a gem to look at and listen to and be analysed by not just casting instructors but casters of all levels as there’s a little something to learn for everyone.
since i brought up ‘questionables’ here’s two and i’ll leave the reader/viewer to find other inconsistencies or whatever if such is your calling. i obviously don’t mean any disrespect.

– the Drift by “opening up the wrist” is called Rotary Drift and its rotating/domed/convex movement automatically opens up the loop by pulling the rod leg down.
its alternative is the Parallel Drift where the rod tip is drifted (gently directed) straight towards the unrolling loop. this movement lengthens the casting stroke, prevents the caster from creeping forward and all the other goodies one can get from drifting without changing the line’s course. easy to see which one’s better. more on the Drift from the Tim and Steve Rajeff bros HERE.

– point two is a bit subjective but its one i can’t stray from when analysing fellow casting instructors and it doesn’t have anything to do with what is being explained but how an instructor conveys the message.
to be honest, i can’t remember most of my teachers but the ones i do remember all had one thing in common; enthusiasm and they made it a contagious enthusiasm that got us interested even in subjects that where typically more than boring to us kids. i’ve seen far worse than Jim’s performance and he’s not bad at all, its just that he reminds me of teachers that drone on monotonously and also feel the need to include “you must” and “you have to” to get their point across instead of finding a way to teach without giving orders. i don’t expect fly casting instructors to put on a show or appear fake but i guess i expect them to at least look like they’re enjoying themselves because when they do, they transmit that enthusiasm and learning then becomes a joy and not a chore. i hope this will be taken as constructive criticism, a little something to keep in mind for anyone who shares our passion of fly fishing to others and not just a random rant.

enough ! here’s some vintage casts. enjoy !

as a side note, almost the exact rod and reel Jim’s using hangs on my wall doing what it does best: sitting pretty and doing nothing because to be honest, apart from being a physical, concrete memory of a wonderful moment in my life as a fly fisher, its not really good at anything else.
nevertheless, its my first ever fly rod, a 7′ 6″ 5wt and one that i won in a fishing contest from the Fenwick company itself when i was thirteen after having caught an eight pound largemouth bass with a popper on a borrowed (Fenwick) rod. every few years or so i take it out for a cast or two and put it back where it belongs but the joy of having won it is still as strong as forty-one years ago.
who knows, since he worked there designing rods and such, it might have been Jim himself who decided to award me with this treasure. whomever it was i thank deeply because even if its not used, this rod and its history has kept me fly fishing ever since.

Fly Casting Physics Explained

” It’s all quite simple, really… “

A=TLC Einstein logo

… and if you’re interested in more complex matters regarding fly casting (without the dreariness of physics) you can click the image for the Cobra’s complete fly casting archive or HERE  for a more pertinent selection of reference articles. enjoy !

Bendy vs Stiffy – a study of fly rod action and casting mechanics

“My experience is that for a given line length (and weight) the caster uses almost the same stroke regardless of the action of the rod. Different rods certainly “feel different” but there is little or no “adjustment to or matching of  the stroke” going on.”
Grunde Løvoll

how many times have we heard or read that we need to change the casting stroke depending on a rod’s action ?
the typical explanation given is, for a slower rod we’ll use a slower stroke and a faster stroke with a faster rod.
well, this happens to be incorrect and is a classic example so common in the fly casting world where ‘what we think we do and what actually happens’ don’t meet up.

as we’ll see below, Lasse Karlsson has taped two very different rods together to cast them at the same time with two identical lines of the same weight rating. simultaneous loop formation, loop shape and loop speed are very-very similar with both rods.
if it weren’t for the excessive counter-flex/rebound (and it’s resultant waves of the rod leg of the fly line) produced from the slower rod’s heavier tip  it would be extremely difficult to determine which line was cast from which rod.
there is no adjustment of the casting stroke to achieve these equal results.

for the tech geeks, here’s the equipment info from the video-

“Two rods cast at the same time, same line on both, and same line length.
Bendy rod: Berkley Grayphite 8 feet 5/6
Stiff rod: Sage TCX 690
Line: Rio tournament Gold 5 weight
To make up for the difference in length, the rods where taped together so the tips where aligned.
The berkley rod is 75% glassfiber and 25% graphite, has an IP of 97 grams and a AA of 65 (so really according to CCS it’s fast ;-)) and a MOI of 76
The sage is full graphite, has an IP of 167 grams, an AA of 74 and a MOI of 70

Several things to learn about tackle here.”

and one of them is that a lot of ‘experts’, many rod designers and people in the tackle industry just blindly repeat what they’ve heard without giving it any thought and don’t seem to try these things out on their own, specially when they’re so simple to observe.
thank goodness for people like Lasse, Aitor, Grunde, and a host of others who don’t live in a box.

EDIT: someone asked what would happen if there was more line out of the rod tip and Lasse shared a variant of the first test, this time extending line whilst double-hauling.
the quick answer is: nothing different than if it had been done with only one rod/line. the casting stroke widens, the pause lengthens and every other aspect of a basic cast remains the same.
see for yourself.

related articles

get a grip…

starting off on what will be an ongoing ‘fly casting instruction analysis’  series, this one will be part of my studies on widely available tutorial videos and why they’ll usually induce the viewer to believe something that has been proven otherwise.
why does this bother me ? it bothers me because so many fly fishers are taking these free and abundant videos as references and as fact and these ‘facts’ are continuously propagated while being a great disservice to the angler desiring to learn how fly casting really works. the video below is just an exercise of self promotion, “my style is the only good style” and it’s riddled with inaccuracies such as:

– there is no such thing as one ‘proper grip’. grip choice is not a matter of substance but one of style. it’s a personal choice and the avid angler will learn which works best depending on their physiological abilities and the situation at hand (what they are trying to achieve),  which means that the avid angler will use several.
– “altering the grip” involves a little more than keeping the same grip and sliding the rod a little forward or little backward. it does indeed make for a shorter or longer ‘effective rod length’ but for maybe 99% of fly casters it’s just changing the balance point and nothing more.
– moving the hand forward on the grip does not make for tighter loops. a straight line path (SLP) of the rod tip does that.
– having the rod bend at the tip of the thumb is certainly possible but it involves a heck of a lot of force. possible yes for a very experienced caster but very unlikely in the short-accurate cast scenario described, specially when we consider that this video is intended for casters who aren’t ‘very experienced’. it’s safe to say the ‘more experienced’ would have already figured all this out long ago…
– “Some of the World’s best distance casters” don’t hold hold the rod near the bottom of the grip at all but towards the front. it’s interesting to make such bold statements without taking a few minutes to watch, as an example, World Championship videos so readily available on the net.
‘logic’ does point to the ‘longer effective’ rod length or longer lever being an advantage but practicality in the vast majority of cases points the other way around. if anything, personally, i would slide my grip towards the front for longer casts and towards the back for shorter and more intricate casts. i know i’m not the only one so, so much for his theory of ‘proper grip’.

to finish, i’ll add that personal experience has shown that excessive wrist use, probably the biggest problem to resolve in fly casting, is accentuated by the thumb on top grip. this happens on the back-cast where most are unaware of it because they never look back…
outside of the fact that we basically never throw anything with our thumbs pointing forward (which of course makes me wonder how this style ever came about in the first place), it’s not a bad grip but it’s one that needs to be controlled and controlled super-well to have consistent results.

to really finish today’s post, i’m not out to break someone’s back, specially when it’s apparent they haven’t studied much or have a lot of varied experience but contemporary fly casting instruction is about proven facts and not long-ago notions. expect more soon.

The Fly Casting Glove…

here’s a real treat ! space-age science and technology meets i’m not sure what… to help us be better fly casters and fishers through the use of horrible, painful, strident sounds ! ! !

“ It’s almost like having a muscle-memory sport like golf, get into your head and say “I’m doing this right because the tonal signature in my head is telling me that i am casting this in a proper motion, I’m stopping the rod and I’m getting the flyline to move through the rod and through the guides. “

” This a wonderful tutorial system that has to be used with one on one instruction from an accredited instructor. “

check out the promotional video of this amazingly debilitating gadget and be sure to crank up the volume first !!!

i’m speechless (but mostly deaf)  enjoy… !