Want More Distance? Then Don’t Cast To The Fish!

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Kyle Wilkinson

Our shop offers free casting lessons once a month at a local park in town.

These events are always a great way to interact with existing customers, attract new ones, and simply enjoy being outside in the great state of Colorado.

We had our first one of these events earlier this week and I had the opportunity to work with anglers of a variety of skill levels. We had a great time and I’ll never tire of seeing the excitement on an angler’s face when he sees his casts looking better than ever. Being able to help them connect the dots on what they’re doing wrong and why is always extremely rewarding.

That said, regardless of the angler’s skill level, one common mistake continued to be made by nearly everyone from the complete novice to the more advanced casters. I recently wrote about “My Number One Casting Tip” on this site a few weeks back. And while that is still a very valuable lesson (that we definitely implemented that night), here is another big mistake I continually see anglers make. The good news is, this is extremely simple to adjust and I’m confident it will make you a better caster.

Casting TO The Fish: The fish are in the water. I get that. I also get that we need our flies to get to the fish in order to catch them. Where this casting flaw comes into play then is when an angler makes two or three perfect false casts with loops so tight you could barely squeeze a toothpick through them and then when it’s time to set the cast down- BAM- the rod trip drops on the forward cast to point right at the target, the loop opens up so big you could drive a car through it, and all the power of the cast is lost. Oftentimes it may not even totally lie out or turn over the fly.  Another quick way to tell if you’re dropping the rod tip a little too quickly is if the fly line is hitting the water (or grass in our situation) before the fly. It may even look like the fly line is “rolling out” on the surface of the water towards your intended target.  If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of “why did my false casts feel so good and then my final cast had no power when I went to set it down?” this is likely the reason.

So, now on to the part of how to fix this casting flaw.

As mentioned earlier, I know the fish are in the water, however instead of thinking about casting to the fish, I want you to start thinking about casting over the fish. This will help keep your rod tip traveling on an even plane throughout the entirety of the cast, thus keeping your loops tighter and your line speed higher.  Once your fly line is completely straight and extended out in front of you, simply lower the rod tip at the rate the line is falling to the water and you’ll be in business!

The two places I see this happen most often are in saltwater conditions and on windy days–whether fresh or salt–and the reasons are simple. For the salt situation, I’ll be the first one to admit it can be darn tough to control the adrenaline when you’ve just spent months dreaming about that tailing bonefish and traveled thousands of miles to get to it.  You’re on the bow of the boat and dammit you’re going to drive the fly right into its face if it kills you! Dropping the tip from the elevated height of the bow is a surefire way to only exaggerate this problem. Throw a little salty breeze into the equation and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Windy conditions are another time I see this happen a lot, especially when guiding. People seem to think that to combat the wind, one needs to try and slam their fly rod down towards the water as hard as possible to cut through it.  In reality though–and as you can probably guess (or maybe have experienced)–a wide loop and wind are never going to get along. As strange as it may seem on a windy day, keep that “cast over the water” thought in your head and I’m certain you’ll be cutting through the breeze like never before.

Kyle Wilkinson
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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4 thoughts on “Want More Distance? Then Don’t Cast To The Fish!

  1. Thanks, this advice is very relevant to me. Now if I can just get my brain & arm to remember this in the heat of battle.

  2. Kyle, You write so nicely and clearly you must have been a ninth grade English teacher in a former life. You’ve even taught me a few things and I have been fly fishing for 47 years. Thanks.

  3. Great advice! I just got done reading ‘The Cast’ by Ed Jaworowski and Left Kreh and what you said totally fits into the four principles described in this book. Thanks again man!

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