The EFFF Masters Test - Theory 4

These last 15 questions are tougher than the many of the previous ones. And I'm running out of time! So let's get started…

46. Explain the arm motions during a basic casting stroke.

The best description I have heard is Jason Borger's. He suggests that, starting with the elbow at the side and the rod tip touching the water, you slowly lift your hand and then reach up and touch your ear (right ear for right hander – obviously). As you touch your ear you squeeze your hand. This allows for a natural lift of the elbow. When you come to cast, instead of touching your ear, you keep your hand slightly to the outside of your elbow. For the forward cast you allow gravity to take over but instead of stopping at 45 degrees – which is what you do naturally – stop at 60 degrees to the horizontal. Then slowly lower the elbow to your side.

47. What mistakes create tailing loops and how do you eliminate them?

When the rod tip dips under the straight-line path it creates tailing loops. In my experience the main culprit is too rapid an acceleration of the forward stroke. Steve's wife would call it “end-gaining” – the caster is thinking about the distance and not the stroke. The five ways to create a concave path of the rod tip (as taught in the States – or I assume this is so since Frank Lopresti has written this during our recent long and involved flycasting discussions – and I am very grateful to him since he has forced me to think about flycasting from all sorts of angles) are forward creep, lack of a forward loading move, improper application of power, too narrow a casting stroke and an erratic application of power.

Here's another: a high backcast followed by a high forward cast.

You eliminate tailing loops by following the five basic principles of flycasting – thanks to Frank and Bill Gammel for this (Bill has send me his video which is excellent and I shall review shortly). The five basic principles of flycasting are: straight line path of the rod tip, proper stroke length, proper application of power, proper timing and the elimination of slack in the casting system.

More on this when I come back from the Netherlands because we don't teach this in England – and I believe that we should.

48. Describe the most important presentation casts an when to use them.

I'm going to review the Essence of Flycasting on site very shortly – I know, I know, I've been meaning to do this for the last 8 months. It's an excellent book. I was disappointed to see the review in Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine. Anyone who writes about flycasting will instantly see the true value of the work. Anyway the reason I mention it is because it changed my perception of slack line casting.

When making a presentation cast, in general, you want your cast to mirror the impact the flow will have on your line. In other words if the flow is going to form a bend in the line to the left, you anticipate this and throw a mend to the right.

The important mend casts are the Reach Casts; left, right, up, down (up is the Hump Cast, down is the Puddle Cast). The important curved casts are positive, negative and tuck cast.

Here's something from Frank - there are five ways to create a +ve and -ve curves:

n) sidearm negative powered negative curve. Body rotation from face forward to 45 degrees right for easier presentation
P) vertical off side overpowered curve right.
P) horizontal overpowered cast using backcast as presentation cast. Body rotation from face forward to 90 degrees left for easier presentation.
CM) Curve mend, as in 2 back-to-back reach mends
H) Hook cast

P = positive, n = negative. The sequence above is for a right-handed caster for positive curves where the line curves right. For negative curves or to make the line curve to the left the sequence is P, P, N, CM, H. However the positions for the casting arm changes from positive to negative. For left curves they are

P) vertical offside negative powered curve.
P) horizontal negative powered cast using the backcast as the presentation. Requires some body rotation to deliver the backcast as the presentation curve. For a right hand caster this means from a face forward view the caster must turn 90 degrees to the left before executing the cast.
N) overpowered onside sidearm negative curve. Body rotation from face forward to 45 degrees right for easier presentation.

positive curves right N, P, P, CM, H  or P, P, N, CM, H.
negative curves left  P, N, N, CM, H  or N, N, P, CM, H.

Use the sequence of letters that works best for you for remembering all five in a sequence. Example for positive curves Positive, positive, negative, curve mend, hook.   Negative curves, Negative, negative, positive, curve mend, hook. 

49. Describe how to make a positive stop.

Maintain a relaxed hand throughout the stroke and when you apply the stop SQUEEZE your hand – and relax it straight after.

50. Which is the most common casting mistake when making a backhand cast?

Improper power application. Most casters apply too much power in the early part of the stroke instead of making a clean lift. This throws an enormous loop in the air on the backcast.

51. Why have a lot of beginners a horizontally opened loop while backhand casting?

Because they don't take their hand forward in a straight path, instead they curve around to the right (right handed casters). Placing the back of the hand on top helps immensely – Henry Lowe teaching.

52. How would you explain to a student all of the basic motions required for learning the Double Haul?

I use the Down-up method of teaching with one slight adjustment; I say to replace the word “stop” with the “down” of the Down-up. Last week I uploaded this page on the Double Haul.

53. Demonstrate and explain the hand motions of the basic casting stroke.

I think what is being driven at here is the importance of Herb Spannagl's “slip” manoeuvre. Remembering that the hand is attached to the arm – question 46 – the hand should be depressed during the upstroke until the “stop” at which point it should be smartly flicked upward. On the forward stroke the angle of the hand should be maintained until the stop at which point is should be flipped forward –the more contained this flip, the better the cast and the tighter the loop. I'm looking forward to meeting Herb in NZ next November by the way.

54. Demonstrate and explain the arm movement of the line hand when double hauling.

Hands together – hands apart – hands together – hands apart. I make the double haul movement (and teach it) that it should come from the elbow and not the shoulder. I also teach to extend the haul to the straight-arm position but speed is the most important factor of all.

Many casters are too hasty in getting their hands together. Curving around to bring the hauling hand back up can help.

55. How would you teach someone to cast a tighter loop?

Smaller rod arc.

Simple answer – in practice I get the pupil to cast 8 yards of line false casting using a small stroke with the minimum possible power. This enables the caster to attain proper feeling as well. Everyone should try this. Experienced casters practice this regularly.

56. Which instructions can you give a beginner for casting a double handed rod?

There are a number of different ways I have been shown to teach this. A good one and one that is quick to pick up (shown to me by Tony Jones AAPGAI) is to anchor the bottom hand close to the chest and to pivot around this. J Borger recommends treating the rod like it was just a single-handed rod. The Swedes in particular pull the rod and pivot around the top hand. You choose :-)

57. Explain how to hold the handle of a two handed rod.

Grab the butt with your lower hand and with your upper hand hold the rod such that your arms shoulder width apart. And then make it comfortable. Underhand casters tend to close this gap - more traditional Spey casters open it.

58. Explain the most important casts with a two handed rod.

The Single and Double Spey casts and the Snake roll. The Snap-T is getting quite popular now as well. The Double Spey is not used very much anymore but is useful for small changes of direction. The rule is to anchor the fly downwind. Downstream wind = downstream anchor. Upstream wind = upstream anchor.

59. What have you learned from teaching and can pass on to other instructors to help their teaching?

Look to the person.

60. Discuss how you, as the only instructor, would organize a class of 20 beginning fly casting students and help them progress to the point where they are false casting and shooting line. Consider all aspects of the class including such things as the physical arrangement of the class, your teaching progression, and your teaching methods.

Blimey – that's an article. I'll answer this one and the other questions when I come back from the EFFF. I reckon I'm going to have a ball over there. Whatever happens I'm going to have fun. Wish me luck :-)))


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