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The Principles of Fly Casting

Fly casting is like an art – there are many ways to do it but you can pick up bad habits and get settled in one form of casting. In this article Drew looks at the principles of fly casting.

Any angler, beginner, novice, or expert, would love to learn how to cast better. The problem is that so many of us focus on different ways to cast when the actually issue lies in the way we think about casting. We focus too much on the what ifs, the do’s and don’ts, and the advanced techniques when in reality most casting errors can simply be chalked up to basic mechanics.

What you need to do if you are serious about improving your cast is think about the why, and not just the what.

Principles of Fly Casting

Casting is all about complicated mechanics. The good news is that you don’t have to be a genius to figure them out; it just takes practice and understanding.

Principle #1

All fly casts should start of slow and then increase in speed until everything comes to a hard stop. While some people tend to interpret this as saying they must cast forcefully, that is not the case. It is all about subtlety and can be related to flicking paint off a paintbrush and onto a canvas.

If you want to cast farther or toss out a bigger fly then you have to increase the bend in the rod. The only way to maximize this bend is to ramp up your hand speed and come to a dead stop at the end. The further your hand and arm continue on the less your rod will bend, and the better your chances are of tossing out a dud cast.

Principle #2

You should never bend your rod until there is tension in the line near the tip of the rod. In essence, it is paramount to get rid of all slack in the line before casting off, or you end up just wasting your time. Hold tight and do not let any slack gather throughout the entire process.

Principle #3

If you want to send your fly further without having to exert a whole lot more effort then the key is to increase the length of your stroke. The further you accelerate your arm the more load the rod will have to bear.

The same rule applies to playing tennis. For short volleys you use short arm movements. To pound the ball across the court you would use longer arm movements and a longer stroke. This simply allows for more acceleration and less effort.

Principle #4

The motion of the tip of the rod after you have come to a stop is going to determine everything about your cast. If the tip is pointing up then your line is going to go up. If the tip is curved then your line is going to curve, and so on and so forth.

When you read over these principles, they almost seem to be too simple. However, in reality every single cast can be broken down by these principles and help you understand why turns turn out well, or downright shoddy.  Use them to diagnose your cast and you will immediately be able to understand where you went wrong.

While it is important to remember principles it is more important to remember that fly casting isn’t all about do’s and don’ts. It isn’t always a matter of what looks proper to your or others, it is simply a matter of what works right for yourself.

Do not take that to mean you can do whatever you want out on the water, as efficiency needs to be your main goal. The best of all of your casts in your life will actually require the least effort. Get into the mindset of trout and be as efficient as possible at all times. It is then that you will master the art of casting.

With fly casting there isn’t always a yes or no or a right or wrong. Just stick to the basic principles, practice and get out there and have fun. That’s what this is all about in the first place, isn’t it?


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