The Casting Exercise

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The Casting Exercise

(Note: For a quick video view of the Casting Exercise stop by the one I posted at YouTube, or the one at my ffpfishingreports site and see how the wrist is used.

diagram of range of motion of rod while casting

In the drawing above the red line represents the rod. The long black line (A) is a string, garden hose or anything else that is 50 feet long and marked at 25' (Where "B" crosses the line). "B" represents the rod. When you first start the tip of the rod is lain across the line at the 3rd eye down from the tip. (Note: Some rods have more eyes than are actually needed so you may need to use the 4th eye down as your measuring point. (20% of the rod, down from the tip is the best "distance" to keep in mind.)

The exercise will start with the rod tip in the 10 o'clock position and stop on the 2 c'clock position. (left handers reverse these start and stop positions. Start with the rod tip at "2".) You are standing in the "You" position on the diagram, facing the line so it runs from your left to your right.

Before we get started on the casting there are 2 major factors that we need to consider first. These are the strength in the wrist of the caster and the stiffness of the rod. The stiffness of the rod will determine the method for the caster:

Very stiff rods take a great deal more strength and effort to cast than the softer rod. The rod stiffness is usually stated with terms like "slow", meaning an easy flexing rod, or "fast", meaning a stiffer rod that is harder to flex. The "flexing" of the rod is the "loading" process for the rod.

The amount it is loaded determines the distance of the cast. (Some of the rods today are so "fast" they won't cast less than 30'-35' of line. This is not a good rod to learn the casting process on.) If you have a softer rod, and the wrist strength, you can start with your thumb on top of the rod and flick your wrist from side to side, palm in to palm out, and send the line both directions down the casting line on the ground. If you have a "faster" rod you may need to grip the rod in the normal way, thumb on top, then rotate your hand to the palm up position before starting. In this position you flex and extend the wrist much like using a fly swatter or hammer. On the really "fast" rod you may need to swing the whole forearm, along with the wrist flex, to cast the line. (Here you "swing" your forearm side to side like you’re wiping the underside of a shelf.)

There are those that will say you NEVER flex your wrist. I was taught this way in 1952 and have watched world class instructors and casters alike flex the wrist to give it that little extra power needed.

NOTE: The misunderstanding here is in the use of the term "don't bend your wrist" that many don't know how to describe so it gets misused. When you are "flexing" the wrist, like using a hammer or fly swatter, NO, don't also bend your wrist on the back cast. If you are doing the "palm-in/palm-out" casting method, don't FLEX your wrist! In the "thumb up" (on top of the rod while casting) flex method if you don't flex your wrist you lose a major portion of the "snap" in the cast and that results in a dramatic loss of distance.

Follow the "Steps" listed in this exercise exactly as they are written the first time you go thru the entire exercise. This will result in much better casting results in the long term.

So, let's get started with Step 1.

Stand in position You in the diagram, pull out about 25' of line and stretch it out along the hose, on the forward cast side, to get started. You start this entire process facing the center of the line and all that should move is the wrist, or forearm, if needed. Now, flex the wrist and send the line from one direction on your line marker to the other end.

If your wrist is strong enough, you will do this with the thumb on top of the rod like swatting flies on both sides of a window frame. Start with the forearm parallel to the ground and pointed straight ahead at the marker line. Start with the wrist flexed so the palm is in at nearly 45 degrees. Remember, in this maneuver all that moves is the hand. There should be no arm movement at all. The flex is completed by swatting a fly with the hand and the hand stopping at about 45 degrees to wrist. (Palm in to palm out.)

If the wrist is not strong enough for this, maybe the rod is too stiff, take the normal grip on the rod and rotate the forearm to the "palm up" position. (The reel should be pointing to the side now instead of the ground.) The arm points ahead, about 10 degrees off from straight, with the wrist flexed so the little finger side shows about a 45 degree angle from the wrist. Now, with a snap of the wrist, and the forearm moved to pointing straight ahead, flick the line from one side to the other. Let the line land on the ground along the marker line.

Once you have "cast" the line watch as it extends and falls to the ground along the marker line. Note where it landed then reverse the process and send the line back to the starting point and let it land on the ground. Note where it lands in relationship to the marker line.

For quick info on your movement. If the line lands before it gets to your marker line you stopped too soon. If it land past the marker line you stopped too late. If it lays on the marker part way then curves out you didn't put in enough power. If it lands on the ground marker line but looks wavy, like a snake track, you used too much power.

Do this part until you get the fly line to land right along the marker line, both directions, ten times in a row. When you reach this goal you move on to step 2.

Step 2 The back cast is not letting the line touch the ground when it fully extends "behind" you. (This is to the right for right handers and left for left handers.) When the line reaches full extension you immediately flex your wrist in the other direction and return the line to the starting point. Always let the line fully extend before starting the forward cast. Start forward too soon and you can snap the fly off the end of the line.

Do this until you have completed the back cast forward cast and landed next to the marker line 10 times in a row. With that we move on to Step 3.

Step 3 When you have done 10 accurate back cast returns, and landed tight to the marker line, you begin the false cast practice. In this part you do the back cast and the forward cast you just did, but now, when the line is fully extended forward, you do another back cast and, when fully extended, you do another forward cast and let it fall to the ground along the marker line. You have just completed your first false cast. Do 5, or more, of these until you are comfortable with this cast then continue into Step 4.

Step 4 To further learn the casting process, step up to the hose and place your off side foot (left foot for right handers. right foot for left handers) toe against the marker in the middle of the marker line. Place your casting side foot toe against your off side heel and set it at about a 45 degree angle to the marker line, swing the off side foot out to the side a little bit and a little forward of the casting side foot with the toe pointing directly down the marker line. When in this position your body should be setting at about a 45 degree angle to the marker line. Now do about 10 casts, with at least 1 false cast each time, and lay the line on the marker.

Feel for the "tug" when the line is fully extended, both directions, before starting the move in the opposite direction. (Look over your shoulder for the first few back casts to see when the tug should be felt, if needed.) Once you have done at least 10 pickups and casts it's time to move on to Step 5.

Step 5

Standing next to the marker line reach down to the reel and pull out a full arms length of line, across the chest while pinching the line against the grip with the casting hand. Let that extra line fall to the ground next to you. Grasp the line from the rod in your off hand, take a big step back along the marker line and get ready to "feed" more line on the forward cast.

Do the standard back cast and, when the line is fully extended, do a standard forward cast. Make sure you do not drop the tip of the rod lower than pointing up at 10 o'clock. (2 o'clock for lefties) Now, just before the line reaches full extension on the forward cast, loosen your grip with your off hand and let the line slide thru. When the line reaches full extension, including the "feed", grip the line snug in the off hand and do another back cast followed by the forward cast and let the line fall to the ground on the marker line. Now, tip close to the ground, pull up into a full back cast, follow that with a false cast, a back cast, a forward cast and let it fall to the ground again. Do this about 5 times. When comfortable with this you can do another pull of line from the reel, take a step back and do another line "feed". Continue these maneuvers until you are standing at the end of the marker line and casting the full length of the line.

You are now finished with the Steps in practicing the cast and go on to learning more about the "feed" portion by continuing with the directions below.

Once you are comfortable with this step you can stand at the end of the marker line, draw in about half of the line length, then practice doing more feeds to learn just how much you can actually feed on a cast. You should now have the "muscle memory" embedded enough that you can go out and look really good when casting and not worry about dragging the line on the ground, able to cast a good distance and be pretty accurate in where the land lines on the cast. So, what are you doing here? Time to go fishing and see how well it works on the water! Good luck!

This exercise is taken from Section 3 of "That Won't Work!" by Phil "flyfishingphil" Hager. This exercise is provided free of charge but does not allow freedom of usage of any other parts from that same book. This exercise may be passed on to others at no charge. Any use of this material for profit/financial gain is strictly prohibited by copyright laws.

If you want more info on the book, "That Won't Work!", just click on the link page above.

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