A Short Quick Cast

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Bruce Chard

Many fly anglers think, in order to be successful in the salt, you need to have a great distance cast.

That can be true on a calm day when all fly anglers struggle to add another 5-10ft on their cast. But in reality the anglers that can get the fly where it needs to be within 50ft take advantage of a large number of their opportunities. Not only is accuracy a huge part of success in the salt, the most valuable asset is speed. If you can get the fly there fast with minimal movement, your odds of a hook up go through the roof.

Seeing and spotting fish for most fly anglers is challenging. Taking longer to find or see a fish frequently leaves anglers with a close shot. The problem that we run into here is lack of time. By the time the angler finally can get a visual on the fish, the amount of time left to act is simply not enough.

This is when a short quick cast is a must. You might be wondering, how hard can it be to make a short cast? You might be surprised how hard it is to lay out a 12-13ft leader with a heavy fly into a stiff 25 knot wind at 25ft.

The main reason for short shots not laying out straight is the lack of line or weight outside the end of the rod tip. Since you have to make a close shot, you can’t get enough line outside the tip to load the rod and make the cast.

So how do we effectively and efficiently make this cast?


Loading only the Tip

Start by loading just the section of the rod that you need, to make your cast. One of the key essentials in fly casting has to do with stroke length. Your stroke length needs to be equal in proportion to the amount of line you have outside the rod tip. Every time you increase the amount of line outside the rod tip your stroke length should increase as well.

So if you have to make a short quick cast then you need to have an equally short casting stroke. Depending on how much line you have outside the rod tip will depend on how deep the rod tip will load and store energy.

Many fly casters have the same casting stroke length no matter how much line they have outside the rod tip. This can make it very difficult to load just the tip of the rod and fully extend a longer leader with a heavier fly into a strong wind.

It’s still a great idea to add a lot of power during this shortened stroke length to help increase line speed. Line speed is huge when casting in the heavy winds. Just a quick short casting stroke is all you need to form a tight loop and load the tip of your rod to make a short saltwater quick cast.

The ready Position

To have a successful quick saltwater short cast, being able to start your cast from the ready position is key. In the ready position you already have 10-12ft of fly line head outside the rod tip so the time needed to load just the tip with a short casting stroke of the rod is dramatically reduced.

Casting Grips for Short Casting in Heavy Winds

Heavy winds are prevalent in the salt. It’s these heavy winds that actually help us get closer to normally spooky fish. A powerful cast is needed to lay out even the shortest of casts into these types wind conditions.

One thing that can help increase line speed to help cut into the wind is the type of grip you use when casting. There are a couple of popular grips in the salt, the V grip and the thumb on top grip. Each grip, combined with an aggressive wrist snap at the end of a short casting stoke, will add a ton of extra power to the system, helping your line to lay out straight into the wind.

The thumb on top grip can offer up to 45 degrees of additional wrist-snapping power while the V grip can offer a whopping 90 degrees of wrist-bend power application, dramatically increasing line speed efficiently.

Line Hand Power

Applying more power to your cast to help create line speed is important, especially when battling heavy winds. When making a short cast you don’t have much stroke length available to add power, so you have to apply power in other ways. Using your line hand and arm at the end of your casting stroke to apply additional power to increase line speed will help to roll out your leader straight with power to spare.

Once your short casting stroke stops, the fly line passes the rod tip, forming your loop. At this time you can then add more power by fully extending your line arm behind you and snapping your line hand wrist. This movement will apply ample power to the presentation and help to present your fly with little slack.

Put all of the pieces together and you’ll have a super effective short, quick cast that will definitely bring more fish to the boat.

Bruce Chard
Gink & Gasoline
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6 thoughts on “A Short Quick Cast

  1. Captain Bruce,

    Please explain a little more about using your line hand to improve a short cast. Once the rod tip stops, is the movement described for the line hand act as a brake, assuring the leader comes tight and increasing the chances that the fly turns over?


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  5. The ability to make a short cast is a relative easy task to learn but being ready to make a short cast may not be.
    Decades ago I had the ability to boom out very long casts regardless of wind. I had practiced and was ready for all contingencies, or so I thought.
    It was a perfect day when we started out of Hurricane Hole and it took only a few minutes at that time to reach and stake out our spot ready for that cruising Tarpon school. We hadn’t been there for more than 10 minutes, my eyes glued at the distance looking for that tell tale tail when my guide yelled, “Tarpon! 11 0’clock, 20 feet!” My eyes froze, my body froze, my arms were ready but I just couldn’t understand what the guide said. What? 20 ft ? I just was not PREPARED to drop the fly at 20 ft. Could I? Well, of course, but I wasn’t prepared for that distance. I made several good medium and long casts as the Big Tarpon swam away but to no avail, no look, no luck.
    Yes, indeed Capt Chard, The Angler certainly needs to know how to make short, accurate, lay casts but ya’ just got to be ready for anything with any casts for sure.
    Thanks for reminding me! Excellent article

  6. Is what you are describing actually be a short forward haul and a push?
    I tried this in my backyard and all it did I was collapse.
    Can you provide a video?

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