Casting Tips from Bob:
A “Good” Cast
Sometimes casters worry about their casts and I’m often asked what is a good cast and my answer is always, “Well, it depends”. The response is usually “depends on what”! It depends on does your cast, go where you want it to go. If it does then it is a good cast. A good cast is one that puts the fly where you want it to go, in that current seam, in front of a boulder or 70′ out at 11:00 o’clock to a bone fish.
That, being said, there may be a more efficient way to make that “good” cast. For example, if you are making a short cast of say, 15 to 30 feet and your rod tip is moving in a wide arc, your loop will probably be wide and inefficient. It got your fly to where you wanted it to go but it could have been accomplished with less effort. Keep in mind that a wide loop is not as aerodynamic, will not go as far and takes more effort than a narrow loop. Although there are times when a wide loop is needed such as when casting a heavy fly, sinking line or multiple fly rigs but for now lets talk about narrow loops. If you are going for distance, accuracy or casting into the wind, a fast narrow loop is essential to achieving your goal.
A narrow loop is one in which the distance between the fly and rod leg of the fly line are no more than three feet apart. An efficient narrow loop is the result of a straight-line path of the rod tip. One requirement for a straight-line path of the rod tip is a result of matching rod or casting arc to rod loading or bend.
In our short cast above, a narrow, efficient loop could be achieved by narrowing the rod or casting arc, (the angle between the beginning and ending position of the rod in a cast), to match the rod bend. The casting arc can be narrowed by not, bending the wrist excessively (a beginner’s fault) or pivoting the cast around the elbow like a windshield wiper. In a short cast the rod does not bend as much because there is not much line or weight out of the rod tip and not much force is needed to make the cast. Conversely if you are making a long cast with a lot of line out of the rod tip, the rod will bend more due to the increased weight of the line and force required for the cast. Therefore in order to maintain a straight-line path of the rod tip a wider casting arc is required. A good tip is that for a short line use a short casting stroke, for a long line use a long casting stroke. Generally speaking for most casters adjusting the casting stroke will also adjust the casting arc accordingly.
A straight-line rod tip path is only one of several essentials or principles that are part of making a good cast. These other essentials can be the topics for future issues.
Always remember that the fly line only does what the rod tip tells it to do, the rod tip only does what the hand tells it to do and the hand only does what you tell it to do. Bob