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Rx for Casting

Slack Line

Illustrated Fly Caster

Regardless of its location or cause, slack in your line simply ruins all efforts at elegant line laying, so let’s get rid of it!

On The Pick-up-- Place rod tip low to the water. Initiate some line movement toward you with the line hand or a slight lifting of the rod tip before starting the actual lift motion. This action breaks surface tension holding line to water and allows it to be pulled smoothly and powerfully into a back cast. A haul (pull down with line hand) will increase line speed rearward and help ensure enough power to keep your loop from disintegrating as it reaches extension. You’re off to a good start!

During Cast-- Allow the rod to load (bend from weight and force of line pull). This won’t happen efficiently unless the hand stops fairly abruptly at the end of a stroke. A drifting hand impedes rod loading (bending) and forces the arm to do all the work. This is not only ineffective, but also tiring and frustrating because long casts will be difficult and inconsistent. When line in front is not performing well look over the shoulder and observe the hand stop and line turnover; this will generally fix a lot of problems occurring in front. Practice! It’s a fun, satisfying and confidence building ritual.

Minimalist Casting

If one back cast will suffice, don’t take two or ten!! Unless you are drying out a fly, measuring for a precise distance, changing line direction or in a holding pattern waiting for a repeat riser, less is best.

Stop the Flop

You have seen it in others--never yourself. Great lead-up casts are whisking through the air. Then, the last back cast disintegrates into a fat and loopy aberration, soon followed by a floppy lifeless thing that lands out front well before the fly. The fly itself will often land in the middle of a spaghetti coil of leader instead of a delicate touchdown at the end of a nicely extended line. Very frustrating, but easy to fix! Fly Caster In Action

This whole mess began with a back cast that was allowed to slip back instead of coming to an abrupt stop. This creeping reach rearward with the hand does not allow the rod to load (bend). It is almost as if the person is saying, “I’m going to lay it out there on this cast so I’d better reach back there for extra power before coming forward.” This action opens the previously tight loop and leaves it lacking direction and power. To complete this disaster, on the the finishing front cast the rod is generally driven down low below the horizon for the successful completion of the infamous “flop cast”.

The Fix-- Don’t change the back cast prior to presenting line and fly to the surface of the water. A normal abrupt stop of the hand is required. As the rod moves forward out of its loaded position, again abruptly stop your forward motion with the rod tip above the horizon. Aiming or allowing the tip to sink to the water level or target zone prior to the line extending out will foil the cast. As the line is decending you follow it with the tip, not prior to full extension. If you have utilized a good back cast and you finish strong to the front you will be able to shoot out a considerable amount of additional line on this final presentation, a thing of beauty.

Tailing Loops

In the fly fishing world, really disgusting comes in the form of the tailing loop. The bane of even long time fly fishers and skilled casters this generally occurs at the very worst moment, as a big fish shows itself for a one cast only opportunity. The pressure of doing it right when you need to is often the culprit in these situations. Concentration shifts to the fish and technique slips a couple notches. The hand is what is actually slipping, or rather pushing forward rather than completing the power motion with an abrupt stop This forward push of the hand kills rod loading and allows the loop to collapse as it unrolls forward over itself.

So let’s fix it!! Complete a proper power stroke with a good stop. Apply pressure to the cork with your thumb as you are driving into the stroke and keep the hand from drifting forward when it should be stopping to finish the cast. Remember nobody is perfect every time so don’t berate yourself too badly when this bugger comes back for a visit.


Straight and tight. Let’s think about what puts waggles in a fly line. Tip movement is the main culprit and this comes directly up the rod from your hand. Every misdirection or sideways move of the rod tip is magnified as it reverberates down the line. So let’s stop doing that! Here is a tip that will make an amazing difference. I discovered this while working with a four foot fly rod I produced. I have found that grip pressure, and when to ease off on this pressure, is the key to successful dampening of any reverberation occurring in the rod resulting from the casting stroke.

Try this...As you complete the power portion of front and back stroke (where rod loading occurs) relax your grip on the cork as the rod releases and line flows toward extension. TIGHTEN for the power, RELAX during the line ride. This will really dampen the rod's natural vibrations that pass easily through the rod and into the line when grip pressure remains tight throughout the stroke. You need a grooved stroke to incorporate this new wrinkle. If you are still a beginning caster just keep the thought in the back of your head until you don’t have to think about what you are doing to cast well.

Never Believe “Never”

Fly casting is a fluid artful endeavor. Lines, terminal offerings, the environment, cast manipulation, etc., are all so variable that you have to be able to adapt quality textbook technique to overcome handicaps that may exist. Don’t feel “lessened” when you need to adapt technically good rod work to accomplish non-painful, effective-for-the-conditions, line movement.

A classic example of this is the statement “never cast with your wrist.” Forget that! The best casters, all of them, utilize the wrist at the appropriate point in the casting stroke...it is a very subtle natural extension of a good casting stroke. As in any athletic endeavor it is often the unnoticeable motion that makes the seemingly impossible work. This natural extension of arm movement helps “crack the whip”, and is where your feel and touch for accuracy is generated. “Too much wrist”...YES. “Never use your wrist”...NO.

Fly Casting Instruction Rates

Hourly: $50/hour for one or two people. For beginner or expert, hands on guidance provides an introduction, tune-up or refining of skills to improve your distance and learn some things to work on later that will help make your time on the water enjoyable and rewarding.

Half Day: $300 for one or two people. Two Hours of dry land casting, knots and fly selection introduction. Two Hours in the boat seeking piscatorial connection on the legendary McKenzie River.

Full Day: $375 for one or two people. On-the-water instruction through out the day. Lunch, beverages and good humor part of a memorable day of learning and creating indelible memories.

Group: $30/person. Up to twenty people, on site or off for business or corporate groups. A long lunch hour or up to two hours of instruction and practice will stir one’s senses while generating that right brain activity so conductive to creative thinking and forgetting what you have momentarily left in the office.

For more information or any querries you might have, send me an email