This is actually the updated version, which is more accurate, slightly more controversial and technically far better. The main differences between this version and the earlier, is emphasis on 'pulling' as opposed to 'pushing' the rod, travel of the rod-tip playing a higher profile (it is pretty key), the power snap, drifting and shooting line into the backcast. I have no idea why FFFT chose to use an earlier version...!
Recently I have become obsessed with the ultra tight. With reference to loops I mean. I also like my loops to have a point. Indeed I was simply going to talk about this and describe various loop designs and generally cause confusion but, having had a conversation with Mr Editor Mark B., I have decided upon a more constructive, perhaps even, dare I say it, informative approach. Not my usual style whatsoever. And against all my instincts I will start from a fairly elemental position and build... something.
There are three essential ingredients to successful fly fishing. The right fly, the right place and the right time. Everyone knows this. There are two important things in life. Sex and fly fishing. Getting stoned is pretty important too but not in the whole scheme of things. Everything else is merely a diversion. Leisure time is for kicks. So's life. If you can't put the fly in the right place, quickly, then learn. Get lessons, practice, give up your job, practice and get more lessons. The right fly is essential only about 20% of the time. You can't do much about the right time, not once you're there. The right place is always important.
One of the most important points to be made regarding fly accuracy is that even if you don't catch a covered fish, you will at least know it has seen your fly. And then you know that the deception has failed. I reckon on refusals by two fish and a change of fly or approach. This is perhaps the most significant reason to improve casting.
Pupil: O Great One, what is the secret to tight loops?
Caster Master: First you must possess a clear mind, unhindered by all thoughts of work, money and responsibility . Indulge yourself in women and soft drugs. Become idle and reckless. Seek solitude in the mountains for months on end. Meditate and eat raw fish and leaves. Only then will your loops be tight.
Pupil: And for the 'ultra-tight'?
Caster Master: Track your rod tip in a straight line.
Unlike article composition, there are a few rules in casting which are hard to ignore. The most important rule in casting is that the line will track the path of the rod tip (not necessarily your thumb as some people teach); if you draw a large curve with your rod, you get a wide loop; the straighter the path, the narrower the loop. Tailing loops are caused by concave paths. Period.
When considering the mechanics do not fall into the trap of forgetting that the fly rod bends when you cast it (if you are thinking of abstract concepts and significantly of half twelves and tens then you are using broom stick mechanics). The fly rod must bend when you cast it for this is how the damn thing works.
Casting is really quite a simple operation made overly complicated by those who practice it. The most important part of casting is stopping the rod. Believe it or not, bending the rod is easy, unbending it is the hard bit. If you don't stop the rod it doesn't work.
For a really great cast the power should be applied smoothly to the rod just as you build up to the stop. I like to think of this as stopping harder, which obviously makes no logical sense but works for me all the same. The best way of applying this extra bit of power is to use your wrist. You might be one of these sad misinformed people who think that any wrist movement is a fiendish fault. Well if you are, then let me remind you that at the end of the forward cast you should turn down your thumb. Which is of course a wrist movement and sometimes called the power snap.
The world is made up of two sorts of people, those who pull and those who push. The pullers have more zest, fun and sex. They are a pleasure seeking bunch of hedonists, carelessly indulging in their every fantasy. Pursued by women, interestingly, they also make the best casters. The human body is a pulling machine, we don't push stones, we throw them. We don't push ropes (even if we could) we pull them. And although some people push rowing boats its a damned inefficient way of doing things. I can only think of one set circumstances where pushing normally takes a priority (especially for the 'pullers') but I think you've got the idea by now.
Pullers lead with the elbow, follow through with the hand and snap the wrist. It is a continual downward movement. Pushers lead with the hand and go forwards usually until they run out of arm.
It is a serious advantage to pull the rod. Not only are your arm muscles working at their most efficient, but also you are in a position where you can force a deeper bend in the rod. If you push the rod tip and force a deep bend into the rod, you will force a concave path of the rod tip and get the tailing loop you deserve.
If however you pull the rod tip and force it to travel in a straight line (whilst bent) and stop hard you will generate a tight fast V-shape loop.
Pupil: O great one, what makes your loops so great?
Caster Master: There is no one reason. There are three. Firstly they have form: at any point, a mere transient image of the complete structure, the whole structure being, of course, at one with itself. Secondly they are unique: image re-representation is completely void in as much as they can never be repeated - only mistakenly similarly interpreted...
Pupil: And the third?
Caster Master: Sexyloops....
The most aggressive loop, and perhaps the most difficult to control
is the arrow-point. The way to create this loop is to
have a back-cast and forward cast in the same plane. It is wristy.
For short casts I will cast through a narrow casting arc forcing
just the tip of the rod to bend.
If you 'hit' it all right you should get an amazing loop, extremely fast and very pointed (which is, of course always an important consideration). If you hit it wrong or too hard the results will still be amazing but not perhaps quite as intended...
It is essential, when attempting any overhead cast, that the line travels directly over the rod tip. This generates higher line speed. If the top of the loop fails to travel directly over the bottom then you have failed to keep the rod tip in the vertical plane. This incidentally is a very common casting fault. Sorting it out will immediately put five yards on your distance.
To gain an additional five yards (and we are getting into the realms of serious casting fantasy here) I am going to explain flyrod drift. Drift is the movement bit you do with the rod, whilst the line is straightening out during either the backcast, or the forward cast, and it is with the backcast that most concerns me here. Most casters have a habit of drifting forwards with the rod tip whilst the line is straightening out behind them. If you do this then great... I am about to give you those extra five yards. After you have stopped the rod, drift back and up (emphasis on the up). This achieves three important points; no lost energy, better timing and most important, for those long casts, a better starting position (remember that for the forward cast we want that larger rod arc, to really force a bend in the rod, and for the back cast, no more than a flick of the tip, because we have no intention of going backwards into the next county).
However that said, there is a technique adopted by competition casters for those extra couple of yards. The back-cast shoot. Shooting five, or even ten, yards of line into your backcast can create some amazing distances, although we are getting into region of hard work and potential difficulties (especially with a weight-forward). Even so, occasionally this rear-shoot can put the odd extra fish on the line, and I like odd extra fishes.
Another tip is to experiment with the speed of the hauling. So many people have an inefficient double haul because both hands synchronise speeds. The haul should be short fast tug. Also remember that the time to start hauling is at the beginning of the power snap. Hit it all right and you can knock-off 40 yards with a weight forward, without false casting. And that's the stuff of wet wild dreams.
Pupil: O great one, how can I, a mere mortal, acquire your
god-like casting ability?
Caster Master: There is a man you will meet. He is a strange one. All whiskers and bow legs. An evil eye, and one friendly. To some he is known as 'Apgai'. Only he can show you the true way.
Pupil: And then will I finally become a Trout-God?
Caster Master: ... Nah.
To acquire some 'God-like casting ability' try booking a lesson!