Casting Mechanics

Courtesy of Dusty Sprague

Principles in Casting

Tension against the rod tip. Before you bend (load) the rod, you should have line tension against the tip by removing slack. The weight of line extended beyond the rod tip will hold back the tip, causing the rod to load.

Accelerate to an abrupt stop. You must bend, then straighten the rod to make the cast. Accelerating the hand using smooth, constant acceleration results in a steady increase in rod tip speed. When the rod is stopped, the momentum of the line carries the line on, rolling a loop of line off the rod tip.

The line goes where the tip goes. The rod tip controls the line — the line goes in the direction the tip is traveling when the rod tip is stopped.

Variables in Casting – must be adjusted for each length of line to be cast

Hand speed – rod bend. Smoothly accelerating the hand results in rod bend and line speed. Adequate hand speed straightens the line at the desired distance or the fly reaches the target with the desired shape in the line, as in an “S” cast. Varying hand speed with a constant angular rotation of the rod changes the size of the line loop.

Stroke length. The distance traveled by the hand during the casting stroke, from beginning of distinct acceleration to the stop. The length of the stroke varies with the amount of line being cast – for a short cast use a short stroke – for longer cast use a longer stroke.

Rod Arc – Angular Rotation. The angle between the rod shaft at the beginning of distinct, continuous acceleration and the stop position. The width of the angle varies with the amount hand speed (rod bend) to maintain a relatively straight path of the rod tip. For short casts use little rod bend and narrow angular rotation; for longer casts use more rod bend and wider angular rotation. Varying the angular rotation of the rod with a constant hand speed changes the shape of the line loop – wide, narrow, tailing loops. Angular rotation should be tilted forward to cast at close ranges and more level with the surface to cast at more distant targets.

Timing. The pause between strokes. Good timing – adequate pause – is long enough to allow the line to straighten fully without losing its tension and falling dramatically.

A straight path of the rod tip will produce a narrow loop of line

You’ll get a straight path of the rod tip if you match rod arc with rod bend using smooth, constant acceleration during the casting stroke.

Use enough hand speed to straighten the length of line you have extended beyond the rod tip.

While false casting, adjust the rod arc, by narrowing or widening the arc, to match the bend in the rod.

You’ll know when you have the correct match by looking at the size and shape of the loop — a narrow loop indicates a good match.

Tilt the casting arc forward – stopping lower in front and higher, more vertical in back, to cast at closer targets. Use an arc more level with the water for more distant targets.

A wide loop indicates either too little rod bend (too little hand speed) for the rod arc you are using, or, too wide a rod arc for the bend you are putting into the rod. To narrow the loops, narrow the rod arc or increase the bend in the rod.

A tailing loop, often producing knots in the leader, results from a concave path of the rod tip – lower in the middle than at each end of the arc – often caused by applying power abruptly and using a rod arc too narrow for the rod bend applied. Smoothly increase hand speed during the casting stroke.

Superb casters (as compared to good casters):

Straighten the line more completely on the backcast, with less line sag.
Smoothly accelerate the rod tip along a straighter path
Stop the rod more abruptly

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