Blog, news and reviews from Snowdonia Fly Fishing Guides
I had the good fortune to meet a very charming husband and wife yesterday and shared a few very pleasant hours on the river with them.
As we walked from our cars the conversation turned to casting and the start and finish points of the acceleration stroke. I said I didn't subscribe the the 10 to 2 method they had previously been taught and when we were on the water I went on to explain why.
Now I'm not saying an acceleration stroke that starts and finishes at these points on a clock face won't work, but it won't work all the time! It ignores the fundamental principles that make for an efficient cast. It also ignores weather conditions and the desired outcome from a cast.
I accept instructors will have different styles of teaching but the content of instruction should be correct and based on the fundamental casting principles.
In Part 1 I gave my basic definitions of the component parts that make up a cast. In Part 2 I expanded on some of these definitions as they relate to a basic cast.
In this post I'll cover a few more advanced definitions. These are: Stroke Length, Drift and Mend
Stroke length (the distance the rod handle travels during the acceleration stroke). Extending the stroke length allows you to increase the duration you are accelerating the rod (and by definition the line the rod is dragging behind it), building up more speed prior to the abrupt stop. Increasing line speed is important if you want to cast further.
Increasing stroke length in the forward cast can be done by extending your arm further during the casting stroke and/or introducing drift after the back cast.
Drift (the repositioning of the rod after the acceleration stroke on the back cast). This is achieved by moving your arm, and the rod up and back (think of the leg of the figure 7 or a backslash /). This is not aggressive or extensive, simply a smooth, subtle movement of the rod after the stop.
Creep The opposite of drift, however drift is good and creep is bad. Creep happens after the stop of the backcast and is the unintended forward movement of the rod before the start of the forward acceleration stroke. Creep deprives the caster of stroke length and is detrimental to the forward cast.
Mend (manipulating or repositioning the line after the acceleration stroke) A mend can be performed to deliberately add slack to aid presentation and/or extend the length of time your fly can be fished drag free. A mend always happens after the acceleration stroke either before the line touches down or once it's on the water.
Basic overhead cast. The lift, casting stroke, casting arc and set down.
In part one I gave a brief definition of casting terms.I'll go into more detail over the coming months. In this post I'll detail the parts of the basic overhead cast:
As this is aimed to help beginners and novices I've tried to keep the language and terminology as simple as possible
In my explanations I use the word 'force', other instructors may use different words - energy, effort, and power are commonly used, all mean basically the same thing. I also use the term 'Acceleration Stroke', other instructors may call this the 'casting stroke'.
Lift - From a start point where your rod tip is close to the water use the lift to get the line moving and free it from the stick of the water's surface tension. Not using a lift often leads to noisily ripping the line from the water, use of force at the wrong time and can cause an uncontrolled fly whipping through the air. - Important note - the lift and acceleration stroke is a continuous movement, there is no pause between the lift and acceleration stroke.
Acceleration stroke - The acceleration stroke continues seamlessly from the lift but this is the point at which you start to accelerate the rod to put a bend in it. The start and stop positions (casting arc) of the acceleration stroke is variable and will depend on a number of factors . The stop must be abrupt (a dead stop not deceleration) to allow the mass of the fly line, having built up momentum during the acceleration stroke, to continue its journey behind you. The acceleration stroke on the forward cast starts when the line has finished extending on the back cast, but before it starts dropping, and ends with another dead stop. The fly line shoots forward creating a loop, Important note - A controlled progressive acceleration is key.
Casting arc - This is the angle of the rod at the start and stop points of the casting stroke. This is really important; if the rod tip dips below a straight line path (SLP) during the acceleration stroke it will form a tailing loop (and tailing loops, not wind, are the cause of wind knots). This is caused by the casting arc being too tight. To stop tailing loops either; reduce the force applied, aerialise less line to prevent the rod bending so much and dipping below the SLP, or widen your casting arc to compensate for the increased bend in the rod. If the arc is too wide it may create open or wide loops. These are slower and easier to control and are good for casting teams of flies, but because they are slower to unroll and not aerodynamic cannot be used for distance casting. distance casting needs a fast, aerodynamic loop and these need a straight line path of the rod tip.
Set down - As the fly line unrolls in the air and drops follow it down by gently lowering your rod tip down to the water.
When giving fly casting lessons I often explain some of the terminology we instructors use so I figured it may help if I did a brief overview of some of my casting definitions. I'll add more as I think of them.
Cast - the act of lifting the fly or lure from the water and placing it back onto the water.
False cast - a cast where the line is kept in the air during repeated acceleration strokes
Acceleration stroke - The part of the cast when the rod is accelerating, and bending. The acceleration stroke ends with an abrupt stop.
Casting arc - the angle of the rod at the start and finish of the acceleration stroke.
Stroke length - the distance the rod handle (or your hand) moves during the acceleration stroke
Set down - gently lowering your rod tip back on the water.
Loop shape - the shape described by the fly line during the acceleration stroke (and set up in spey casts), a tight loop is when both legs (top and bottom) of the line are close together.
D loop - in roll casting and spey casting the shape the line describes as it hang behind you from the rod tip prior to the forward cast
Spey cast - a cast used to safely change direction
Anchor - in a roll or spey cast the anchor is the line that is laid out on the water prior to the forward delivery.
Anchor point - The point at which the line enters the water creating the anchor
Set up - in spey casting the repositioning of the line prior to the forward cast
Haul - where the line hand is used on either the back cast or forward cast to pull line through the rod guides, during the acceleration stroke, to increase line speed.
Double haul - when a haul is applied to both the back cast and forward cast prior to final delivery
Shooting line - when additional line is slipped into the cast at the end of the casting stroke to increase distance
Drift - repositioning of the rod back and up, at the end of the back casting stroke
Tracking - the need to keep your forward and back casts travelling in a straight line
I'll go into more detail on some of these definitions at a later date
Please let me know if you have more to add or if you want to comment on any of my definitions.
Fly tackle - the basics
When starting out the array of tackle available can be daunting, and the terminology used confusing. Below is a simple beginners guide to fly tackle.
Wind knots are not caused by the wind but by tailing loops.
A tailing loop is caused when the rod tip follows a concave path during the acceleration stoke (see definitions above) on either the forward or back casts. This creates a wave in the fly line that eventually causes the upper, or fly, leg of your loop to cross, twice, the lower, or rod, leg (see sketch). The reasons that lead to this happening are many and varied and I list below just a few:
1) Casting arc to narrow for bend in rod - cure, reduce force applied to cast or increase width of casting arc
2) Creep - cure, introduce drift (definition above) into your back cast
3) Incorrect application of force - cure, use only the force required for cast and ensure it's controlled
4) Finishing haul too soon - cure, continue hauling into the stop on your casting stroke
5) Slack line in the back cast - cure, remove slack
6) Finishing the acceleration stroke too soon - cure, extend casting stoke by using drift or increase stroke length
If you need help with your casting or a fault finding analysis of your casts please contact me.
There are some fundamentals essential to achieving a good cast. I have listed these below, however getting them right takes plenty of practice and I would strongly recommend having a lesson or two. This will prevent you adopting bad habits, or identify faults you may already have.
A well know fly fishing guide and instructor John can often be found fishing or guiding on the Welsh Dee or passing his knowledge to others at game fairs and country shows.
Guided fly fishing trips on rivers, streams and upland lakes in Snowdonia. and surrounding areas of North Wales.
Fishing for summer & winter grayling and wild brown trout.in the spectacular, tranquil countryside that is Snowdonia National Park.
Fly fishing and casting lessons for beginners. Casting fault analysis, single handed spey, slack line and presentation casting tuition for more experienced fly fishers.
Develop your watercraft skills on freestone rivers and upland lakes.