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The Pupil

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Line control during flycasting

The Experience is not just about teaching Karen or Steve; it is also about the analysis of flycasting instruction methods. It is also perfectly honest. There are no hidden agendas here. Everything that is written in these pages really happened and as they appear here. Nothing has been omitted.

When I teach flycasting, I initially teach the pupil to trap the line between the cork handle and the index. This stops the line slipping off the reel then, once the initial casts have been made, and focuses the pupils attention on the timing of the release of the line when shooting line. The finger operates like a trigger.

Later on after a modicum of line control has been enabled, I then switch teaching so that the line is then held in the free hand.

Karen: Why?

This is where life became rather interesting. I had always taken it for granted that holding line in the free hand offers greater control. If that was the case, then why do I teach it to be trapped beneath the index finger? So this cannot be the reason.

I thought "well, maybe it's to allow greater control when shooting only a small amount of line during false casting." But this also is not the reason since I try to teach fly casting with the absolute minimum amount of false casting. False casting is time consuming, spooks fish and is often unnecessary.

So I had to analyse my methods. There are two reasons.

The first is that, with experience, holding the line in the free hand does allow more control during the shoot, specifically if the caster requires the shoot to be finished prematurely in order to turn the flies over. There are times when the forward momentum of the line is not enough to enable the loop to completely unfurl. An experienced caster can recognise this and check the forward momentum of the bottom part of the loop, forcing the remaining energy to be used in turning the loop over. This is called 'checking the shoot' and is also useful for short-range accuracy.

The second reason is that the free hand can be used to make what we describe as a 'haul'. This technique uses the free hand to pull the line back through the rings during either the forward or backstrokes, and enables far greater velocity to be imparted to the line.

To this end I gave a short demonstration, where by casting without a haul, I threw approx 20 yards of line, and then by utilising a haul I chucked another 15 or so. There was no difference between rod-arm actions. The only difference was the use of an effective haul.

Karen has not yet reached the stage where I can teach her hauling. Shortly I will be able to do this, much to many readers excitement :-)

Karen: I personally can't wait because where I am fishing I need to be able to get the line out further, so as you can imagine, it is very annoying to be only able to cast a short distance.

So the question is why do I still want Karen to hold the flyline in the free hand? Basically I think I am trying to instil a feeling for the use of the free hand in flycasting, so that when I do introduce hauling it will not feel quite so unnatural.

When spin fishing or beach casting one doesn't use the free hand to hold line. The only reason we do so in flycasting is because it either facilitates a more controlled shoot or it allows the use of hauling.

Now that I understand this I must now make a more conscientious effort to teach this fact in a clearer manner.

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