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Technical fly casting advice

Hi Paul,

Can you clarify a few points in your on-line casting instruction for me?

Talking about pullers and pushers, you say you throw (pull) the rod, normally with a wrist snap on the back cast and a cocked wrist  on the forward cast.

I take it that the wrist is cocked backwards, opening the angle between the rod butt and forearm. If this is so, can you tell me:

(a) Roughly what should this angle be?

(b) Is this in fact preparatory to a forward snap of the wrist, which seems to be called for under the heading The Power Snap?

(c) If there is a wrist snap at this point, does the wrist finish straight, with the rod butt at 45 degrees or so to the forearm, or cocked forwards so that the butt is against the underside of the arm?

(d) In the section on The Grip you say you bend your hand backwards, putting it outside the elbow. When I try this I find that the rod is angled away from my body and I am unable to get the line to travel directly over the rod tip. Am I doing something wrong here?

(e) I am also having trouble speeding up my haul without simultaneously speeding up my rod hand. Any tips on this one?


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Paul's advice

Hi Angus

Firstly I'd like to point out that I don't just cast in one particular style. Depending upon what I am trying to achieve I will adapt my stroke. There are many different styles of flycasting, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Which of course is why it's both so interesting and so damned confusing.

One casting demonstrator casts one way, and the next does something entirely different. Who is right? Well they both are.

A good example would be driving the line directly over the rod tip in order to create a very efficient and accurate cast. But I wouldn't do it with a heavily weighted nymph because it's either going to get you or the rod tip. In that case I'd tilt the rod over.

In order to answer your questions I have brought in some videos. These are always popular and we have some plans for them.

(a) You first question refers to the forearm/rod butt angle. I have no hard and fast rules on this. Sometimes 45 degrees although it can be as much as 90. If I take the rod tip directly over the top of the shoulder the angle is closer to 45 degrees; if I tilt the rod slightly over it gets closer to 90. Why? Because it's comfortable. The first movie is a rather unusual view. Here the angle is closer to 45 degrees.

(b) I generally do not wrist-snap at all any more. I have in the past, and some rods do appear to like a bit of a shock loading. However, on the whole, I tend not to use very much wrist. This video you have just seen, actually shows the use of wrist. I prefer to think more in terms of an abrupt stop, rather than a power snap.

(c) In this advice section I have talked about using the rotation of the elbow joint to generate an abrupt stop. By using this I find that I can stop the rod abruptly with the butt at any angle to the forearm that I choose (having said this, I should point out that I am not conscious of this during casting and actually had to go and stand in front of a mirror in order to determine whether it was so!). The third video on this page (which I have included for the double haul question) demonstrates a cast with no wrist snap.

(d) It is possible to force the line to travel over the tip of the rod while still keeping the hand outside the elbow. If you were to rotate the hand so that you are holding it using the V-grip, this should be no problem. I find, however that so long as the hand is not on the inside of the elbow the casting is still ok. What I do find important to stress is that the elbow should be kept in line with the casting direction for accurate casts. This video is not a bad demonstration of this.

(e) The best tip for speeding up the haul without speeding up the rod arm is to concern yourself with the timing. By hauling as you are making the stop this detaches the hauling process from the stroke and applies it to the stop. If you are having trouble with this say 'stop' to yourself every time you stop the rod. And then simply replace the word 'stop' with the word 'haul' (or the word 'down' of the down-up). Think fast and light with the haul. Think heavy with the rod. Slow the rod down and feel for the weight. This video is good for this analysis.

Now this is all technical stuff. I want you to load it all into your subconscious and promptly forget about it. Go out there and 'feel' for the cast. Positively slow everything down and allow it to flow. Analysing the cast is great when you are sitting down and thinking about the stroke. When you are actually casting this thinking process inhibits the cast and it loses its fluidity.

Let me know how it goes (and thanks! I'll subscribe you) :-)


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