Becoming a master fly caster takes a long time and a lot of practice. Improving your casting is probably one of the most effective ways to improve your fly fishing results. Better fly casting techniques will allow you to become more accurate, be able reach your line out further and will reduce your chances of developing tangles.
If you have ever been out fly fishing with someone on a windy day and you keep getting tangles while they seem to be able cast indefinitely without problem, it is because they have mastered their casting fundamentals!
The first part to mastering fly casting is to learn how to cast longer distances. This is assuming you already have a basic handle on the concept of casting. If you are still a beginner at casting you will want to learn the process of delivering a basic cast before you start on these techniques. If you can deliver a quality cast of 35 to 45 feet, then you are ready to learn how to throw longer casts. Longer casts will help you cover more water, present your fly to more fish and will give you more opportunities to hook up. Therefore, longer casts will improve your fishing results.
Your very first step towards making longer casts will be to increase the amount of line that is in the air during your false casts. You will accomplish this by releasing more line as you false cast back and forth. In order to keep this additional line in the air you will also need to increase the length of your casting stroke, or the distance your casting arm covers as it moves back and forth. After that we can start perfecting the 3 fundamentals of longer distance fly rod casting: shooting line, proper rod loading and double hauling.
You may already be shooting line during your false casts to increase the amount of line that is thrown. Shooting line is very simple and it can aid in the loading of the rod before the final cast is made. Shooting line is the act of releasing a small amount of line from your non-casting hand during your false casts.
Essentially it works by adding momentum to your fly, which results in additional pressure being placed on the line when the fly reaches the end of its casting loop. You will feel this extra bit of pressure on the tip of your rod as it loads.
This means that by simply letting out a little of bit of line from your non-casting hand during your back cast will allow you to add power to the line and therefore to your rod. This shooting of the line should be done on your final false back cast, so that extra force is propelled forward into your actual cast. You may be surprised how much extra distance this simple technique may provide!
The key to shooting line is to practice the proper timing. Shoot the line during your back cast to add more momentum to your fly. You can also shoot line during your final forward cast to increase the amount of line that is thrown.
You already understand how to load and unload the rod to achieve power on the line. Hopefully you have mastered the tight rolls at either end of your false casts to load the rod and keep the fly and line from becoming tangled. One of the major differences between a caster who can send the line out 50 feet and one who can go 90 feet is how well they are able to load the load. Proper loading sequences can help you vastly increase your casting distance. Remember that fly rod casting is about efficiency, not manual power. You should be able to cast 75 feet using the exact same arm strength as you use to cast 35 feet!
Most casters will begin moving their rod forward while their back loop is still rolling-essentially while they still have that nice c-shape in their back cast. During short casts moving the rod forward before the back cast loop is finished rolling will still produce a nice cast. This is especially true if you are not shooting any line out during your cast. What is important to remember is that the back cast is what will load the rod.
Each time you begin moving the rod forward before the line is done rolling you are losing a small percentage of the loading power of the line. So, if you move the rod forward 1 inch before the back cast is done rolling, you will lose the small percentage of loading power that inch would have given you.
Again, casting over longer distances isn’t about more strength or arm motion- it’s about producing the maximum amount of loading power from your rod. Long casts are about efficiency. Allowing the back cast to completely unroll, so that the c-shape loop completely disappears offers you the maximum amount of loading on your rod. Once you begin moving the rod forward you will be taking advantage of the full amount of loading power the line can deliver to your rod, with no additional effort on your part.
Knowing exactly when to begin moving your rod forward takes some practice. The instant the line reaches the extent of its unrolling you will feel a slight pull on the tip of your rod and you will see the very tip begin to bend backwards. This is the exact instant to begin moving the rod forward. If you wait even a tiny bit too long to begin this forward movement you will lose a lot of your loading power.
Again this takes practice, especially because the pull you will feel will be very subtle. If you are able to master this technique, your forward cast will have the most amount of power to load your rod and the line will explode forward.
The next step is learning how to Double Haul in Part 2.