Don’t Ride the Brakes During Your Fly Casting

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Don’t Ride the Brakes During Your Fly Casting. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Are you finding that you’re lacking distance and falling short of your target with your fly casting?

Is your power and line speed insufficient? If the answer is yes, I bet you’re also getting a fair amount of tailing loops or dreaded wind knots aren’t you? Come on, be honest. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you’re periodically falling into this category with your fly casting. Believe me when I say, you’re not at all alone. I see it regularly on the water guiding, and most of the time anglers struggling with these problems usually are only doing one thing wrong with their fly casting. Nine times out of ten, in this scenario, anglers are decelerating their fly rod during their forward cast, back cast, or even both, in some cases. What you need to be doing to fix this problem is smoothly accelerating your fly rod during your casting stroke, making sure you’re stopping the rod at it’s fastest point. This will allow your fly rod to distribute the energy loaded during your cast efficiently, and you’ll have plenty of power (line speed) to reach your targets.

Deceleration During Your Casting Stroke:  Short Story & Case Study

This past fall I was fishing big attractor dry flies with a client of mine. There were plenty of big fish willing to rise to our offerings, but to get them to eat, we had to stay far back and make long casts to them. Otherwise they’d spot us and spook. My client, a capable fly fisherman with strengths in short presentations and roll casts, developed a weakness for distance, when a head wind picked up. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the distance needed to present his dry fly ahead of the fish. Several minutes we worked a prime piece of water that I knew had some eager fish looking up, but we got no takes. My client turned to me and said, “They must not like this fly pattern”. I replied, “You may be right man”, and I handed him the nymph rig and pointed upstream to our next fishing spot. But what I really wanting to say is, “No, the fly pattern is good, you’re just not getting the fly anywhere close to your target”.

There are times when the best thing you can do guiding is to go along with your clients and not voice the complete truth. Now it’s important to understand that I had already explained to him a couple different times, that the problem he was having is that he was slowing down his fly rod to a stop during his casting stroke, and it was sucking his power and distance out of his cast. If I would have pointed out that he failed to get bites because of his inability to correct his deceleration problem during his casting stroke, it would have killed his morale and confidence. And that could have started a falling domino effect, resulting in his fishing skills going down the tubes the remainder of the day. Instead, I decided to cut our losses, and move him up river to another hole where I could position him close enough to make a good presentation, and he quickly hooked up.

The moral of the story is, know your clients limits. Sometimes you have to be willing to walk away from a prime opportunity if your angler can’t execute. Remember, some success is better than no success. Do your best to diagnose and fix casting mechanic errors, but understand you only have so much time on the water, and some battles can’t be won during a single day on the water.

Keep it Reel

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “Don’t Ride the Brakes During Your Fly Casting

    • Chester,

      I wasn’t referring to you. Boy did you have some big fish crush those dries, huh. That was awesome. I will email you some photos soon. It was great fishing with you and your Dad.


  1. Kent,

    As one of your clients, this is one of the things that I enjoy so much about our time on the water together. Your assessment, mentoring and coaching tips have me leaving the water a better fly fisherman than when I started the day. I am most greatful for days like that.


    • Ahhh thanks Carolyn. You get me and understand my guiding style (team), and thats why we have so much fun on the water. I am so proud to see you fly fish these days because you can hold your own among the vast majority of anglers out there, and you understand what is important for success on the water. I also really like that your humble, genuine, and get mad adrenaline rushes with big fish. Good to hear from you.


  2. Kent… Great post, and very timely. I am headed south for reds this week, and your reminder is spot on. I will be thinking of your good advice as I try to get a bit more distance out of my trout cast over the next few days! “Dont slow down on the cast!”

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the positive comment. Deceleration during the fly cast is a problem I see on the water with my clients very often. I hope your redfish trip is a success and you have a great time fishing the salt. Keep in touch.


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