Fly Casting- The Wiggle / Horizontal Hump / Fly Dryer Pick Up

as the title suggests, this technique has several names but in my heart it’s the Wiggle and since i like things that wiggle… i’ll stay with the jiggly moniker !

just as in Pavel Kupstov‘s description and super-excellent video below, its main purpose is to easily and very quickly shake/fling off water from a waterlogged dry fly or emerger during the backcast lift without having to bring the fly back to dry and/or treat it with more floatant or powder.
as we’ll see in the slow-to-fast sequences in the video, the Wiggle sheds most if not all residual water on one single backcast enabling the angler to complete the cast and present the fly with one p/u and lay down instead of having to whip the line back and forth, false casting to get the same result.

how does it work ? just as with a standard casting loop, most of the water is shed when the fly goes from one direction to its opposite direction (back to front/front to back) but in this case, there’s a whole lot of direction changes before going into the actual backcast loop and this latter one finishes flinging off whatever water was left. pretty ingenious when you think about it.

the Wiggle also sheds water from the leader and fly line, something that will greatly help when using a silk or textured line and furled or braided leaders but ‘standard’ mono leaders and plastic fly lines aren’t immune to ‘water retention’ either.
in both cases, fly and line(s) won’t be spraying fish-spooking residual water droplets upon presentation, something to keep in mind in slower flowing pools or stillwater.

as for this pick up’s history and other names, i have no idea if other authors have talked about this p/u method previously but Joan Wulff writes about it in Fly Casting Techniques and Jason Borger in Nature of Fly Casting.
Joan calls it Horizontal Humps and Jason, Wiggle Pick Up. i might have missed it but interestingly, neither one mentions the p/u’s fly-drying attributes as its described as a way to effectively pick up fly and line from vertically oriented snaggies like grass and brush without, well, snagging them so there you go, yet another reason to add this technique to your bag of tricks.

as for how-to’s, wiggling is pretty straightforward but i always advise to start off the lift with the arm extended, rod tip pointed directly at the fly and start wiggling as you’re drawing the elbow back towards you whilst lifting the rod tip and then going into the backcast propper. this avoids ‘running out of casting arc’, leaves more space and time to get it all done correctly and smoothly and generally leads to a better backcast loop. Pavel’s one of the finest casters there is and despite that we’ll see backcast loops that aren’t picture-perfect but that’s not important as long as we don’t lose control of the line and flop it around.

last note: in her same Pick Ups chapter Joan also writes about a variant; Vertical Humps. basically the same thing but instead of wiggling (humping?) left and right, the waves are created by jiggling the rod tip down and up during the lift and since it doesn’t really matter which plane the waves are going, there’s yet another option for you.

there might be more but i can only think of one potential minorly negative aspect: all that spray goes straight towards the caster but then humping usually involves some kind of, ehhhh, nevermind….

Fly Casting- Explaining the Double Haul

by Stefan Siikavaara

originally written in 2009, here’s an interesting approach on the subject that stands up well to time. intended for casting instructors, this ‘frame of mind’ or maybe ‘perspective shift’ should be of  interest for fly anglers of all levels.

when talking about or teaching the Double Haul we tend to simply say “it speeds up the line” and often just leave it at that. Stefan digs a little deeper and i thank him for it.

“You want to keep it simple while teaching, but this is sometimes easier said than done. While teaching you sometime get really tough questions from your students. I’ll give you an example: I’ve been asked a few times about what the doublehaul does to your cast

When I get this question all sorts of things go through my head. I am thinking about what I read in Mac Brown’s excellent book, Casting Angles. The haul is a necessity to master because it enables the caster to conserve energy throughout the fly cast. It entails putting all the various casting fundamentals together for a cumulative effect of attaining higher line velocity on the stream. The line hand pulls on the line. This causes the rod flex to increase which leads to greater rod deflection.

I am also thinking about a great essay in physics that doctor Grunde Løvoll published a while ago. Mr Løvoll’s findings show that the catapult effect, the actual unbending of the rod only equates to about 10% of the total line speed in a cast.

Among the other things that go through my head are a few of the traditional views of the double haul. That it increases the bend of the rod and that it also reduces slack line in the cast.

I am tempted to answer all of this. But as you already figured out, these explanations question each other. On some points they even contradict each other. And most importantly, handing this big package over to my student is not simple enough; therefore it is not good enough.

Let’s have has closer look at them. My conclusion of Mac Brown’s explanation joined with Løvoll’s findings is that the haul gives additional speed directly to the line. I like it, let’s leave it at that.

If I would go for the traditional view of the haul reducing slack in the cast I would risk planting a casting fault in my students head. Why is that you ask? Well, if there is slack in the line it would most likely manifest itself the most early in the cast, while the loop is unfurling or after the line has turned over. The idea of using the haul to reduce slack would incite starting the haul early. Well, if I start the haul early I risk finishing it too soon. And what would that give me? I run a considerable risk of adding a tailing loop to my students cast with that explanation.

So, all these things buzzing in my head and the student still waiting for an answer to his question: What does the double-haul do to my cast?

So what do I say? Do I go for the technical explanation or do I go for a traditional description? This student had not read all the literature and joined in on all the threads on the internet boards. He just wanted to brush up his casting for hunting seatrout down the Swedish coast.

No, instead I’ll choose an explanation by Lefty Kreh that I think sums them up: The line hand is the accelerator. You drive your car, you shift gears and you press the accelerator. You start your stroke, you speed up and then you haul.

Being able to abstract and condense a huge amount of information and different theories into a short and simple answer proves that you really know your stuff. Read everything, evaluate everything and learn from it all. But keep your explanations clean and simple. The mark of a great teacher as the late Mel Krieger is to make complex things simple. Use few words, use your body language, use examples that your student can relate to. Keep it simple.”

” The definition of a fly rod – an antenna which transmits peace, tranquility, excitement, fellow-ship, and most of all, an awareness and appreciation for the outdoors ”

– author unknown via Joan Wulff’s recently published book: New Fly-Casting Techniques

mickey's magic wand

when reading these words, the innocent bystander or hopeless romantic might think that a fly rod is something akin to a magical wand, maybe even something that has a soul, character, personality.
and then, the pragmatic who’s given some thought to these matters might probably start off thinking “what a load of c**p !” and then move on to describe a fly rod as a tool that makes casting the line easier than by hand, that it helps to control this line (and leader and fly) when in it’s on or in the water and then if all goes well, a cushioning lever to fight a fish when its hooked: a means to an end.

of course, i’ll be the first to agree and add that because of this ‘magic wand’, i kind of think it’s made me a better person on many different levels and throughout the years and travels i’ve made many and very good and close friends. i don’t like the ‘best friend’ concept but there is indeed this common denominator among those that might fit that bill: the fly rod.
most of them are quite bright in spirit and also share all the good and soul-healthy/good karma values mentioned in the title quote, but to be honest, they happen to be a minority and there’s just as many narrow-minded, selfish and conceited idiots who happen to carry a fly rod around as there are in seemingly any other activity.
‘best not to judge a person by their rod…

Fly Casting- Joan and her Sponge

by Joan Wulff produced by Jeffrey Pill | Miracle Productions via MidCurrent

here’s one of the better tips a fly fisher/caster can have.
the ‘death grip’, a constant tightening of the hand throughout the casting cycle not only leads to pains which can vary from discomfort all the way  up to tendonitis but is one of the best ways to be a sucky and inefficient caster.

leaving the pain aspect away, what happens if we grip the rod handle too tightly throughout the stroke is:
– as discussed in the  Poetry, Grace, Fluidity and the State of Relaxed Butt article, tightened muscle and tendon groups don’t move freely directly resulting in harsh, imprecise movements, the total opposite of what we want.
– if we don’t relax the hand at the end of the stroke (the ‘stop’) we’ll accentuate counter-flex both in amplitude and duration. (counter-flex is the boing-boinging of the rod) counter-flex is normal and inevitable but we want to reduce it to a minimum because it creates waves in the rod leg of the loop and waves are slack and slack is no good for the simple reason that slack means less than optimal control of the line.
Lasse Karlsson’s video below illustrates the damping effect caused by loosening the grip perfectly.

relaxing the grip is one of those complex coordination movements a caster must acquire to be a consistent, accurate and successful fisher and like anything that has to do with fly casting, should be practiced well. Joan’s video explains and shows a great way to practice this, enjoy !

click the image to access the video’s page.
Joan Wulff Hand Tension - MidCurrent 23-1-13
thanks again to MidCurrent for sharing these gems !

The Basic Cast

by Joan Wulff via MiddCurrent

what a treat !
here’s a wonderful tutorial of the most basic fly cast, the Pick Up and Lay Down.
the PU&LD is what leads to just about any and all aerial casts. with a few slight variances we’ll find the same principles with water-born casts as well, making this foundation invaluable for any fly fisher.

i do feel the need to add just two minor critiques: for the life of me i can’t understand why Joan felt the need to say that this cast is specifically used for nymphs and streamers and personally, i can not recommend using the thumb-on-top grip for someone learning to cast. it’s not that a caster can’t be efficient with this grip style because many excellent casters do use it. however, in my experience this is the grip style that leads to the most errors in wrist control which is one of the hardest bad habits to get rid of.

grip choice is of course style related, meaning that it isn’t substance, the ‘meat’ of casting or it’s Essentials.
it’s an individual’s choice. if it works, use it. if it don’t, find something that does.

MiddCurrent’s Vimeo account wont allow me to embed the video here so simply click the image below to see it on their channel. enjoy !

Joan, again and again and again !

what a treat for the fly casting world ! Joan Wolff’s at it again, this time with new and up to date casting techniques.
the first edition ‘Fly Casting Techniques’ was and still is a great inspiration of mine and was part of my study materials for my instructor exams. sure, there’s a few quirky things like ‘power-snap’, ‘constant pressure’ and other terms or explanations  i don’t really agree with but there’s no problem there because it’s just not possible for me to completely agree with anyone…
there’s so much more to gain through her words and descriptions that it would be a shame to get too picky.
i’ll be getting one soon and will follow up with a review.

” In its first edition, Joan Wulff’s Fly-Casting Techniques became an instant classic, revolutionizing the art form of fly casting and changing how an entire generation approached the sport. Now, with Joan Wulff’s New Fly Casting Techniques, Joan brings her pioneering set of casting “mechanics” to a new audience, offering precise descriptive terms for every part of the cast. Sections are included on improving accuracy and distance, loop control, shooting lines, aerial mending, the double haul, correcting common mistakes, and more. With improvements and refinements on her original techniques, and with a set of extraordinary drawings by David Shepherd.”

sound good ? get it here.

who wants to play ?

“If you don’t know where the fish lie but can cast well enough to cover all the water with finesse, you are likely to solve the mystery and catch fish. If you know where they lie but can neither reach them or present the fly naturally, you are not even in the game”
Joan Wulff

Fly Casting- Better not stop !

or this guy won’t think you’re doing it right…

following a current website casting thread on the Italian TLT (Total Line Technique) style of casting, one of the better casters of this style posted the video above to point out that this technique doesn’t involve stopping the rod.
well, ok, with the short amount of line he’s casting in the video (if he double or tripled the amount of line he would obviously have to pause his hand in one way or another to allow the line to unroll before starting the next stroke) he does indeed continue the movement with his hand but what he’s really failing to understand is that it’s not hand movement that’s important in defining the ‘stop’ but rather the rod tip.
to put it quite simply, loop formation happens just after the rod tip is at it’s highest speed and when the rod tip has been decelerated in one way or another via the rod butt and this all happens just a fraction of a second before the rod tip is at it’s very temporary ‘RSP’ (Rod Straight Position) on it’s way into counter-flex.

to put it even more simply, if their isn’t a ‘stop’* or a deceleration or reversal direction of the rod tip, (as seen at the beginning of the video) there isn’t a loop, and this regardless of what the hand is doing.

to demonstrate this with beginning students i ask them to do Joan Wulff’s drill, ‘Circles and Eights’. this involves drawing big circles and figure-eights in the air with the rod tip and with a short amount of line. even as they’re swishing the rod this way and that, as long as they continue to draw those figures a loop never happens, it just follows the rod tip.
as soon as they stop the movement or if i place my hand in front of the rod and block it, the line overtakes the rod tip and a loop happens and that’s what a loop is about, ‘stopping’ the rod tip. beginners understand this without words.

the TLT isn’t the only school of casting that claims a non-‘stop’ movement to their style. in a world where the understanding of casting mechanics is starting to develop greatly, maybe it might be time for these schools to analyze not only their casting better but also the words they use to describe it.

* i always put the word ‘stop’ between parenthesis because the rod tip doesn’t really stop. even if it is an incorrect term, this ‘stop’ is just an accepted image that explains this point in time during the cast.



if you too where bored to death by the first video, here’s a little something that involves moving and stopping that’s a lot more interesting.