Beyond FlyCasting – Timing of Power Application

Beyond FlyCasting – Timing of Power Application

Tim Kempton | Tuesday, 26 January 2021


Timing is everything as we quickly learn when we try to cast distance. There are lots of videos and articles on distance casting. Stance, tracking, picking targets, rotation and application of power are all important. But there is more to application of power and casting distance.

We recently (like a year ago pre CoVid) fished for tarpon in the Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve in Costa Rica.  The Rio Frio (Cold River) is a muddy brown river and home to large (200lb) tarpon. This is the most amazing sight to see the backs of large tarpon rolling and porpoising in a brown river that is 20-50 metres wide. Hook one of these and its like a horse jumping out of the river.

This is a combination of sight fishing and blind casting, but mostly blind casting. I was casting both a WF12F line and a 500gr Rio Leviathin on a 12wt rod. We found the tarpon were mainly subsurface and so most of the casting was with the Leviathin, fast sink line.  This was repetitive casting, and so the more time the fly was in the water the greater the odds. After a few days of this, the tendon below my elbow become sore which encouraged me to think about power application. I'm a slow learner and it dawned on me that I was “pushing” the rod during the stroke. I switched to using the haul for power... useful but too late… it took months for the tendon to repair.

This event caused me to rethink power application and the role of the stroke and the haul. Some of my thinking also came from casting spey rods.  Essentially the stroke is for direction, whereas the haul is for line speed.

Some tips I have collected.

a. Rotate as late as possible (unless you want a dome cast). Some people call this flipping the rod. Paul says lead with the butt, then rotate when you run out of stroke.

Haul as late as possible, ie when you are rotating.
c. Use the stroke for direction. A common fault is to put too much power into the stroke, which can cause RSI (tennis elbow) and push the loops out of shape. Learn to put the power into the haul and not to push into the stroke. Lefty Kreh put it this way "Don't use any more power than you did on your last false cast.  Haul faster.  Let your haul hand be your accelerator."  

Use the haul for line speed.

Back off the power.  Learn to cast as soft as possible. Energise the backcast