Well Cliff, you put me on the spot … that’s why I wrote my book: to teach folks another way to approach the fly cast. It’s called, The Fly Cast: Concepts & Comments
and is available through Landbigfish.com. Those interested can visit my site, read about the book, and make their decision as to whether or not to purchase. http://www.douglasmacnair.com
At the outset, let me say that the curve is a tough cast to learn … In my view too many words are required to describe its execution in this forum. Suffice it to say the curve can be made either overhead or sidearm. Of the two, sidearm is easier. For those who understand the principle of overpowering the cast and still cannot make the positive curve work, the problem is the tippet. It takes a heavier tippet to work. As for the negative curve, simply make an incomplete cast. The overhead curve, positive or negative is more difficult and requires extensive practice.
The specialty casts you mention – the reach, tuck, bounce, along with the "S" cast – are all intended for a single purpose: provide a drag free drift of the fly into Friend Fish’s mouth. Being able to cast a long straight line is fun, but a long straight line is not the way to catch 90 percent of the so-called cold water fish such as trout and, for that matter, smallmouth bass. The problem should be obvious: when the belly of the line gets caught in the current, it will drift at a much faster rate than the tippet & fly and once overtaken will drag the fly right on down the creek past Friend Fish’s nose as he murmurs, “Another dumb fly fisher.”
Any of these casts require the fly to have passed the rod tip before the caster modifies his or her stroke.
To do the tuck or puddle cast
, simply lift the rod tip – do not jerk – the line will descend to the surface in a puddle. The fly will drift free until the line straightens.
To do the reach
, simple lay the rod over to one side or the other upstream of the target. The fly will continue to the target but the belly will fall upstream enabling a drag free drift until the belly overtakes the fly.
To mend the line
, simply raise the belly of the line and lay it over upstream. This is not a cast but a continuation of the reach by repositioning the line. It extends the drag free drift.
To do the bounce
, simply buy a ball - tennis, rubber, or basket - and throw it against a hard surface. The b all should bounce but probably will not extend the drag.
To do the “S” cast
, simply make an overhead cast and as the line begins to settle out wiggle the rod from side to side. The line will fall to the surface forming S curves enabling a drift free drag until the line straightens.
There are others such as the sidearm, the backhand, steeple, etc. Of the lot, I consider the sidearm and backhand as the most important casts for the fly caster to have in his or her inventory.