A recent review of the Cast-Rite and Echo MPR casting exercise aids by former England team member and fly fishing guide and author Jeremy Lucas from our sister site of FlyForums.co.uk
Indoor or back garden practice for fly casting has always been difficult because of the room required for casting, even for single-handed fly rod techniques. There are two excellent products available which will help fly casters develop their technique even when casting ‘full-scale’, out of doors is not possible or practical.
This system relies on an assembly which has a weight within the blank that ‘clicks’ during the casting process. No fly line is involved other than an elastic strand that can help one develop hauling ideas. Provided the user has had some casting lessons in the past, to iron out basic faults, this product can be used to hone casting skills. The problem is when a novice picks this tool up, hoping that it will allow him or her to learn how to cast fault free, It won’t, because the audible click will be heard even when the casting action is wrong. One could rely overmuch on this device and actually build in difficult-to-cure faults. With a proper introduction to fly casting however, the Cast-Rite is a good tool for honing skills, even the aforementioned hauling. Moreover, a simple extension handle allows the development of double-handed casting kills. What really helps this product, however, is the inclusion of a very good booklet on casting techniques, consisting of a series of laminated flash or prompt cards. This is more than a nice touch – it really rounds off the product very well indeed and, I would say, is so good as to be worth marketing separately, perhaps with a little extension work for some of the casts.
£39.95 - Full details available from Cast-Rite
The Echo Micro Practice Rod
On the other hand, the 'MPR' from Echo is an altogether different idea. First impressions make you think of a toy, or a rod for children to take on their first outing; but don’t allow this to prejudice you against this innovative product. Assemble it and start roll casting and you will be surprised. The thick line, simulating both fly line and leader, unfurls in a very realistic way. It has been designed to react rather like fly line and leader on water, giving just the right amount of drag. This system excels with practicing roll and Spey casts, especially the Snake Roll. It works best on carpet, but a smooth floor is reasonable, unlike real fly line, for which only water will really do. You do still need quite a large room for this device, or even the back garden, particularly, of course, for overhead (or to and fro) casts. The Echo does not allow the learning of hauling technique, because the butt or stripping guide is simply too narrow for the very thick ‘fly’ line. In fact, overhead casting with the Echo gives poor simulation and practice, compared with the roll based casts, for which it really is superb. It is also backed up by good web support, to further help the practicing fly caster.
£33.53 - Full details from European agent for Echo Rods - Baltic Fly Fisher (or of course any local US Echo dealer for our NA readers).
Both these learning systems increase the individual’s and casting instructor’s scope for practice. Once the basic technique has been taught, it can be practiced if not to perfection, certainly to the level at which faults are ironed out. For pure fun, the Echo wins the toss, simply because the user sees and feels that line unfurling. The Cast-Rite, however, wins out by being more practical in confined spaces, and with the addition of that excellent booklet, of course.
Articles by the same author
- Fishing on the Frontier – Part 33: Leader-to-hand
- Armchair casting
- Fishing on the Frontier – Part 25 - San River Perfection