Re: A recent problem in my casting
you've gotten too much good advice already. seriously. it was all good based on what you wrote. you have a tailing loop. they come in a couple of varieties, but this is the most common.
technically defined, the reason is a concave rod tip path. think about what that means and visualize it because the only way to fix it is to get that out of your casting stroke. and you don't want to "groove" that into your muscle memory.
i'm not going to talk techniques for correcting it because you've already gotten too much advice about that. i'm going to talk strategy/philosophy. why do we start to double-haul? 95% of the time it is to add distance. it's the wrong reason, but the most common reason by far. the right reason is to increase line speed. why increase line speed? to tighten loops. why do we want tighter loops?
1. to reduce wind resistance. lets us cast effectively in more windy conditions and lets us cast bigger flies more efficiently.
2. to improve accuracy. by reducing wind resistance and other variables in the physics of the cast (less surface area exposure at the points of stress in the casting loop), our cast becomes far more consistant...thus manageable and predictable. this lets us become far more accurate and consistant with practice.
3. to increase flexibility of backcast location. a tighter backcast can be placed in tighter spots: between trees, telephone poles, or other obstacles. it can be elevated or lowered to clear obstacles, or moved side to side. all of this can be done with greater ease (see 1 and 2 above) and squeezed into tighter spots with a tighter loop.
4. to aerialize more line. only by increasing line speed can you aerialize more line during false casting without your loop collapsing. hauls timed while the rod is loaded remove slack. this keeps line speed high and prevents loop collapse if the rod tip track is straight and level and the tip speed and stops are properly timed. aerializing more line allows you to cast more line - thus increasing casting distance...all other things being equal.
5. to increase rod loading without distorting the path of the rod tip. this will also increase casting distance because the rod will transfer more energy to the line when it unloads. but it could also be done for other reasons, like limited backcast room.
you should study each of these in detail and meditate (visualize) on it until you understand how it translates into physical reality. notice that none of these necessarily involve increased distance, but there is seldom a reason for #4 other than more distance.
what you must always, always, always remember about fly casting is that excellent fly casting (distance included) is not accomplished by a tense muscle. it is accomplished from relaxed muscles that feel as if they are barely working. it is about form and timing.
what almost all of us screw up when trying to add distance or line speed to our cast in the early going is that we try to add force. force should never be a part of the fly casting equation. and this is counter-intuitive to the male psyche. this is why it is often easier to teach women, girls, and old men to cast well. how many times have you seen a guy (or caught yourself doing it) try to open a locked door and fail only to try again by trying to push, turn the knob, lift the handle, etc. even harder? how about the slow elevator? push the button harder and repeatedly, right? never works, but we do it over and over again. don't we? these are manifestations of the same psychological obstacle we face with fly casting...the same one that leads to the tailing loop most of the time.
so the only advice i am going to give you is this:
slow back down and relax. work on the form and timing and forget about distance. when you get the form and timing down, the distance will be automatically there whenever you want it. it will come by adjusting the amount of line you aerialize, the length of your casting stroke, adjusting the timing of your stops and hauls accordingly, and raising your forward stopping point and holding that position longer.
and the only thing i will recommend is this (and this is for everything): focus on your backcast. watch your backcast, not your target, during the casting stroke. whatever happens behind you is exactly what you will get in front of you. the forward loop is a mirror image of the backward loop. i demonstrate this in classes of unbelievers by executing a long double-haul cast with 3 false casts to form a good loop. on the 3rd, i launch the cast w/no forward haul and at the forward stop drop the fly rod and let it fall to the ground. the fly line shoots forward and the loop unfurls straight as an arrow and hits the same target i've been hitting. they all watch their backcasts after that.