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The Backcast
Versión en español
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-- Introduction
different styles
the grip
shooting line
power snap
loop shape
across the wind
into the wind
with the wind
side casting
underhand cast
Belgian cast
different lifts
backcast shoot
basic roll cast
roll cast variations
off the shoulder
dynamic roll
Spey Casting
double right
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spey fishing
switch cast
snake roll
fly first
mending line
bow and arrow
rotating thumb
tip kicks

A nice backcast (and photo :-)) as shot in Spain by Alejandro of the CNL (thanks!! :-)))

Many people will tell you that the back cast is the most important part of casting. There is a little rule somewhere that "you can't have a good forward cast unless you get a good backcast", which although not strictly true, it is the case that it sure helps your forward cast to have a good backcast.

Certainly if you have a low back cast and then come over the top with the forward cast, then you are either going to throw a high forward cast or an open loop.

The first faults a beginner usually has with a pick-and-lay-down cast are usually in the backcast. The faults are this:

  • Taking the rod too far backwards

  • Failure to stop the rod - which is really the same as the first point

  • Failure to get an effective lift - either by completely forgetting the lift element of the cast and throwing a large open loop, or worse; a low, face-level cast flying directly at the caster, with alarming pace (this is caused by the rod bending against the surface tension on the line, and then unbending as soon as the line is free - duck!), or by remembering the lift but starting with the rod near the horizontal and ending up clearing the line from the water too far backwards, so that by the time the backcast has been completed, the line has travelled over and down and not up and back.

When teaching (or even when practising myself), I imagine casting straight up into the sky. If you try to cast the line vertically upwards, you generally get a great backcast. Its a mental thing.

Remember that for the backcast the stroke should be small - we are merely flicking the tip of the rod. Ten yards, maybe a little more is all we are trying to aerialise. Initially. Later when we get involved in overhangs and rear back shoots then we can relax this rule.

I purposely move the hand upwards into the stop, with a little twist of the wrist. This gives me a narrow loop. It's a little upwards corkscrew movement.

Positive stop. Positive stop. Positive stop.

With a really great loop on the backcast - even with a drift - you can often end up with the very end of the line dipping downwards after the loop has straightened, its very much like forward casting with an attempt to get the fly to land first (tuck cast). And it can be a real pain in the arse. There are several ways to counteract this:

  • You could try shooting some line into the back cast - something we will deal with separately.

  • You could force the loop to travel under the rod on the backcast so that when it straightens the line pops up and not down (this is a really smart trick incidentally and is great for casting over low bushes or when using a heavy lure).

  • You could bring the loop around the side of the rod on the backcast (a la Belgian Cast)

Some casters watch every single back cast, to see when it has fully straightened. Often a recommended viewing position is the open stance. Some casters hardly ever watch their backcast. Frankly unless watching the back loop, brings in some fault of its own - such as a body twist resulting in a curved track of the rod tip - I can see nothing wrong with watching them (in fact it can help!). This said, however, there are times - specifically in fishing situations when you really don't want to take time out to watch your backcast, in these circumstances 'feeling' for the line with the rear drift really comes in handy (and it helps to have practised it before encountering Mr Lunker).

Feeling for the line straightening should, however, be a sixth sense and not a literal pull on the rod tip. Having the line bounce against your rod tip is not a good position with which to be starting the forward cast.

The forward cast can actually tell us what happened behind us. There are two things to look out for: the first is a complete heap at your feet - generally just preceded by an almighty 'crack' this is failure for the backcast to straighten out (not long enough pause) and the second is for the line to land in a wriggle as opposed to perfectly straight and is caused by a low backcast (when I get this I call it a presentation cast BTW! - see puddle cast).