Fly Casting: Power and Control

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

I’m just back from four days fishing for golden dorado at Parana on the Fly Lodge in Argentina.

Dorado fishing is the most demanding fly fishing I know and, days later, I still have the sore muscles to prove it. We target these apex predators with big flies and heavy rods. Success depends on making accurate casts and often at long range. You might make a hundred of these casts before you strike gold. If there are any shortcomings in your casting, dorado will find them.

C0092-2It’s no small thing to make several hundred casts a day, turning over an eight-inch streamer accurately. Especially when many of those casts are over sixty feet. You need the right balance of power and control to do it consistently. Especially as fatigue sets in. I learned a technique years ago when fishing the salt that makes it all come together. The key is knowing when to focus on the power and when to focus on the control.

One of the most fundamental principals in fly casting is, you can’t make a good forward cast without a good back cast. This is often where anglers start to struggle as they become fatigued. Their back cast becomes anemic and there is no saving the forward cast. This is especially true when wind or large flies complicate the process. The key is to start with a powerful back cast.

By focusing on power in your back cast you insure that you are able to fully load the rod for your forward cast.

A loaded rod is where real casting power comes from, so by generating enough power and inertia in your back cast you are setting yourself up for success on you forward cast. Once the line straightens behind you and you feel the rod load, it’s time to switch your focus to control.

On the forward cast, let the rod do the work. Focus on making a nice tight loop by keeping your rod tip traveling in a straight line and making a nice hard stop. Use a firm hand but forget about the power and let the load of the rod take care of that. By keeping everything nice and controlled in your forward cast, you’ll find your casts are much more accurate.

This technique also works well when casting into the wind. Just hold your line on your presentation, as opposed to shooting line to the target. Keeping the line tight keeps your loop energized and turns your leader over into the wind.

Remember, back cast with power and forward cast with control. Give it a try. You’ll be dropping the fly right on target all day long.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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