I think I know what is happening and let me know if I am correct.
When you shoot the line, I suspect that you are letting go of the line and what ever line in on the water or ground is pulled through the guides. The problem is that you don't have enough power to shoot all the line so the cast collapses.
But when you shoot line with the line coiled in your hand, the cast goes fine because any excess
line is kept in your hand. By keeping the line your hand, you control
the amount of line you shoot.
Well, I have good news for you. The solution is simpler than keeping line in your hand. Holding the line in you hand restricts the shoot.
When beginners shoot line without control, they depend on the extra energy to shoot and lay out all the extra line at their feet. When they have too much extra line, the cast collapses because there is not enough energy in the cast to pull out all that extra line plus lay out the line they already have in the air. When they put too much energy into the cast, the fly will bounce back.
Plus now they must grab at the loose line after every shoot. To do that they must take their eyes off of the fly they have just cast, find the line, grab it and then they must search for the water for their fly.
One of the hardest transitions a new fly fisher must make is from casting on the lawn or pond to casting on moving
water. If there is any delay in the ability of a new fly fisher to gain line control and strip loose line after the cast, he/she is in immediate trouble. Dropping the line delays line control! It is as simple as that.
Here is the solution:
First, make a series of casts without shooting line. Put extra energy into the cast so that this excess
energy causes the line to bounce back toward you on your final forward cast. Now you know that you have enough energy to lay out the line you are casting plus some extra energy with which to shoot line. Unless you first have some idea of how much energy to place into the cast to shoot, you are lost.
Now to shoot line, you must not
let the line drop. When you shoot line, place the tip of your thumb and index finger together to make a ring
. This ring
becomes an extra line guide
for your line. But it is a line guide that you control.
Close the ring and you have the line in your hand, open the ring and you can shoot the line. By opening and closing this ring, you can control the amount of line you shoot. It has the additional benefit, that when the fly lands, you immediately have line control and you are not grabbing for the loose line after the cast.
Now try casting again with the same amount of excess power and allow a few feet of line to shoot out before closing the ring. If the fly still bounces back, you needed to shoot more line to balance the excess energy. If the leader does not completey lay out, you shot too much line.
The only time you should drop the line when shooting is when you are going for maximum distance. The shooting ring you form with your fingers does add an extra bit of friction so it will limit distance a bit. However, to our benefit, it gives us the ability to feather our casts to lay down the cast with accuracy and delicacy. I usually overpower the cast a bit and then feather the amount of line I shoot so that I can shoot exactly the amount of line I want. It is the same thing a bass fisherman does when he throws a lure at a target and places his thumb against the the spool to adjust the amount of line to land his lure right on target.
The analogy I use when teaching fly casting is that you would not be able to park a car without both an accelerator and a brake. Placing a fly accurately is like parking a car. Use the rod as the accelerator and your line hand to "brake" the cast so that the fly lands gently on the water at the exact distance you want.
After the shoot, you can immediately place the line under the index finger of your rod hand and use your off hand to strip in the line from behind your rod hand. Now you have complete control of the rod and line.
One other tip. When you shoot line, you should keep some space between your line hand and your rod hand. You need to keep the two separated or else there is the chance that the line you shoot will wrap around the reel. This is a common cause of line fouling even for shooters that drop the line.
I was taught to cast by Gary Borger and the O-ring shoot was a mandatory lesson.It is explained by Jason Borger in his Blog. A hard "check" can help perform the "tuck" cast that beginners find so difficult.