Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
The most frequent answer will be to start with 30 feet of fly line, since the rod is optimized for 30 feet of line.
However, in practice, that length is too long for the rank beginner to handle. I have asked Gary Borger that very question. He starts beginners with a much shorter section of line and then works up to 30 feet.
There are multiple problems with starting with 30 feet.
First, the longer the cast, the longer the delay required between the back and forward casts. However, the tendency of a beginner is to begin the forward cast well before the backcast has straightened.
Secondly, the beginner does not have the stroke path, acceleration, and hard stop to adequately cast 30 feet of line and 7 feet of leader in an acceptable straight line and loop formation.
Thirdly the rod is not actually designed to cast 30 feet. It is designed to bend optimally when the energy in the line is equal to an optimized 30 foot cast. Since a beginner cannot do that, the 30 feet of line does not actually provide the needed "feel".
Fourthly, a beginner does not actually feel the rod as an experienced caster does. Don't believe me? Blind fold a beginner and they will tie the 30 feet of line into knots. They cast with their eyes. That is why they need to look at the back cast for timing.
A beginners ability to "feel" the rod bend is over emphasized in my opinion because that feel or muscle memory is built over time and experience.
I submit that a beginner cannot feel the rod as I can. So I start with the amount of line that the caster can straighten on BOTH the forward and back cast with an acceptable loop. That may be 10 feet, it may be 15, it may be 20. But rarely is it 30 to start.
Once the beginner can routinely straighten and form an acceptable loop, then begin adding length to the cast. The gradual adding of length allow the caster to slowly adjust the timing between the forward and back cast.
Finally, I go up at least one weight in line class when teaching beginners, using a 6 wt line on a 5 wt rod. This will provide a higher rod load for shorter distances.
If you want even more rod load, use macrame or craft cord in the place the fly line. It provides the short casts with shorter delays but with an even greater rod bend.
The final reason I do not start with 30 feet is that it sets 30 feet as the minimum fly cast in the beginner's mind. These beginners have never fly fished. If we begin at 30 feet, we are subconsciously saying to them that this is the minimum we should cast. Starting shorter and working up is easier and will teach them the casts that are frequently used in fishing.
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy