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Looking to fly cast a few extra feet?

Posted:   24-05-2013, 14:49 by Dave

A couple of years ago I was an average 100í distance caster, the fly leg on my backcast sagged, I could only aerialise 60í of line and my final delivery cast often clipped the ground behind me. Sound like you? Hereís a few hints Iíve used to add 20í to my average distance casts, hold more line in the air and get tighter loops.

Firstly donít expect miracles, they only happen in fairy tales, the reality is you need to practice as often as you can and be a realist. Also take note of one word mentioned in the above paragraph, íaverageí.

Now why is the average so special? I know a few blokes who have done one-off casts, you know those freakish 110íers or 115íers - theyíre the type of guys that hit that magic figure and put the rod straight down, ask them to do it again and they look at you like youíve spoken way out of turn. Average is important, itís your benchmark.

The realist inside should alert you to the fact youíre struggling to hold X feet of line outside your rod tip, donít view this as a negative, everyone knows their limits and you can always get better. We all know the bloke who isnít comfortable with his limits, the guy whoís loops always crumble when they hit a certain distance; they tail; they clip the ground; always blaming their rod.
Learn to take a step back (and wind in a few feet of line) in particular when you start doing the above. If its a struggle to hold 50í of line, youíre never going to succeed with 60!

Know the 5 essentials, seriously they are essential, even when youíre banging out 100í. When working on my casting for the IFFF CI exam I made sure I applied the 5 essentials to every cast, even the 75í distance cast. Having lived through being one of those average 100í type casters, taking a step back and producing a 75í cast that met the criteria of parallel tight loops, adequate line speed and making it look like a very relaxed 50í cast was an eye opener.

  1. The rod tip must travel in a straight path. (this determines the shape of the loop)
  2. Vary the size of your casting arc (and stroke) according to the amount of line beyond youíre rod tip
  3. Pause enough for the fly line to straighten. (if it doesnít straighten youíll crack the whip, wait to long and its over before it began)
  4. Smooth application of power (donít jerk or be abrupt)
  5. Keep slack to a minimum (re. clipping the ground)

Once youíve taken that step back and reached the distance that your comfortable at what next? I recall the conundrum, being stuck between 90 - 100 feet, anything more and the finesse is gone, loops donít look that good and itís basically back to where it began!
Youíre certainly not in a position where despair is the only word you can utter, its a good place to be and youíve passed the first stage (most people donít really want to go beyond here). Really; how many people can you name off the top of youíre head that can cast 90 - 100 feet with tight loops and finesse?

One of my good mates, Ed is at this stage. Lets examine a couple of points where improvement will yield large reward.

† ∑ Start the haul LATE
This is in my opinion the hardest aspect to teach anyone, reason is it doesnít tend to feel natural and unlike correcting tailing loops seeing an improvement may not be apparent straight away. If you want to improve distance you need to haul late, real late. Its not a natural feeling in the casting stroke, in particular if you have years of muscle memory. Lets have a look at Edís haul:

Here its quite clear, Ed is about to begin his haul, the rod is loaded and he looks quite relaxed (well if you know Ed, thatís relaxed!). There isnít a whole lot wrong with this, its a 100í cast.

I spent quite some time working on my haul, in particular where it started (and where it ended, discussed a little further down), hereís me:

While far from being perfect, I think you get the gist. After years of casting it isnít easy introducing a late haul, and I still need to be later if I want to go further. Another point to note is look at the height of the fly line behind both Ed and I - re. backcast touching the ground...

† ∑ Hauls need to be looong
Most people donít haul with enough length, short jabs just donít cut it - period.
From the 5 essentials listed earlier, look at point 2; think of haul length in a relation to the amount of line you have outside youíre rod tip. More line, longer haul.

Edís not too bad in this aspect:

Thatís quite a long haul; arms are outstretched, but take into consideration the first image of Ed and where the haul begins. Looks are sometimes deceiving.

Haul length is another aspect I spent time refining, as with every part of the haul itís another íunnaturalí feeling component of casting and very hard to teach as results are sparse initially. My attempt below:

Relate this to the image where the haul starts, the haul is long. If only I can manage to haul later in that stroke...

† ∑ Haul speed and oomph are important
Possibly the major benefit of the haul is it increases line speed, as per haul length I liken the speed of the haul to point two of the 5 essentials listed earlier; this is a great place to start when trying to materialise theory to practice.

Breaking it down for simplicities sake, if there is 50í of line out of the rod tip Iím NOT going to haul hard and fast; compared to having 70í of line outside the tip; my haul is going to be much faster in combination with more oomph.

† ∑ The Conclusion
Getting more distance isnít an easy task, youíve got to practice and then practice a little more - get those basics right and youíll notice vast improvements, depending on how far you want to go youíre going to hit that inevitable wall. While there is much, much more to gaining greater distance, breaking down the above three haul techniques will take you to the next level and most importantly provide the opportunity to dissect the smaller aspects to aide the improvement.

Before I wrap up Iíd like to mention average again, donít settle for the one-off long cast, the distance youíre averaging will set you apart from your casting partner, the competition or even the guy on the other side of the river! There is no point in bragging when youíre unable to reproduce.

And remember; if youíre in need of some tuition use the contact page to get in touch and organise a lesson.

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