I've been studying fly lines, casting and loops for a long time now and think I'm finally starting to get it. Slow, I know, but at least it's happening. Here's what I've learned in the last few years about making perfect loops, which just happen to be the ones the require the least energy to make, work best in wind, are most accurate and go the farthest, and who wouldn't want those?
First, we all know that a straight line tip path makes tight loops, but, based on the variety of loops I see, not everyone knows what it takes to make the tip go straight. This summer and fall Noel Perkins and I have done many casting clinics where we have analyzed hundreds of casts using the Sage Casting Analyzer (SCA). Many of these casters have been quite talented, several CCIs, some MCIs. Some were avid beginners (who made the quickest progress, by the way, not thinking they already know everything!). There was an incredibly common theme to what we said to nearly EVERY caster at every level to improve their loops, and here they are, THE secrets to great loops…
1 - Delay rotation, then
2 - Apply constant acceleration to a…
3 - Hard stop
OK, so not big secrets, but many of the casters we worked with swore they were doing all three and believed so until proven otherwise by the cold, hard data on the SCA. Granted, most were close to ideal, but not quite there and what wasn't perfect in their rotation, acceleration, and/or stop were precisely what kept their loops from being "perfect".
So, if your loops aren't quite as tight, top pointed and sexy as you'd like, here's some advice that I would nearly trust with my life, without even seeing you cast…
1 - Concentrate on delaying rod rotation a bit longer than you do now. Nearly everyone who is short of "casting god" status starts every stroke with some early, very slow rotation that raises the rod tip and prevents perfect loops. This is subtle, but critical, we're trying to make a very good cast into a great one.
2 - The rate of acceleration of the rod butt must be as close to the same at the beginning of the stroke as it is at the end. Yes, the rod will be going much faster at the end than the beginning, but the rate of acceleration should be constant in getting the rod from slow to fast. I know this goes counter to what many have said and written, and even to what many of us think we do, but ALL the best casters we've analyzed had very constant acceleration, regardless of what they thought they were doing.
3 - Stopping the rod quickly IS important (and there is no such thing as a "stopless" cast, Paul…). Of course, how we define "stop" is important. I think of it as the act of decelerating the rod, the same as we "stop" a car, a deceleration. Of course some (Paul) think it is the state of the rod when it is motionless, but I digress… The slower the rod decelerates the farther it rotates during the process, which opens and rounds the loop. A faster deceleration limits rotation during the stop tightening and sexifying the loop. Yes, a new term that the definitions committee is now working on.
I will probably get drummed out of the casting instructors union for revealing how simple it is to cast perfect loops, and I'm sure Paul will disagree with all of this, but that should be a sure sign to you that it is all true!
Bruce Richards firstname.lastname@example.org is one of the world's leading authorities on flycasting, flylines and imaginary saltwater tactics. He is an inventor of flycasting machines, a flyslinger of some repute and of course, an active Board member. What Bruce doesn't know about flylines, probably isn't worth knowing. In fact some of what Bruce *does* know about flylines you probably wouldn't want to know either.