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cjam93 10-15-2012 01:18 PM

How much line should a beginner cast with?
Hey guys so I have been spending a lot of time in my backyard practicing casting. Anyways I was wondering for someone who is just starting to learn, what is the ideal amount of line to attempt to cast at first? What I mean is what is an ideal distance that I should start practicing with? thanks!

Hardyreels 10-15-2012 01:38 PM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?

You'll get plenty of response on this topic. You need enough of the belly of the line out of the tip to load the rod so that it is doing the work for you and not all of the energy coming from your arm. With that said, the more 'belly' you have out the better the loading capability for the rod. This can create a negative sort of dichotomy for the beginner. More line equaling better loading but at the same time placing additional timing and stroke speed & power requirements on the caster.

So.......... enough to load and flex the rod but no more than you can handle at your current skill level. Does that make sense?


cjam93 10-15-2012 01:53 PM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
That does make sense, thanks!

fredaevans 10-15-2012 02:26 PM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
Assuming we're talking about single handers here, the line weight is based on the first 30 feet only. With that in mind, start at just a bit over that and adjust. Interesting part is if you have a Double Taper line the line weight actually goes up past the 30' mark (more grains in the air).

delopez 10-15-2012 03:01 PM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
A lot of the lines are two-toned. This helps by letting you know where the head is and where the head ends. If there isn't two tones to your line, you can look at the specs of the line on the package that it came in and get the head length. Then, measure that length on your fly line and mark it with a marker of some kind. Taking Fred's knowledge and adding the leader length (assuming that you have a 9' leader), you're already starting with about a 40' cast! :D

silver creek 10-15-2012 04:39 PM

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.

wjc 10-15-2012 06:32 PM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
Good post Silver!

silver creek 10-16-2012 08:11 PM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
The way I came to this method is that I used to start beginners with 30 feet of fly line. They could not handle it. The cast would collapse. They would get wide loops. The cast would dump on both the forward and backcasts. They would try to correct this with more power, just whipping the line into wide forward and backward arcs.

Then I would shorten the line to 25 feet, then to 20, then to 15 and even to 10 feet. I was hit with an epiphany of sorts. The only reason I began with 30 feet is that it sounded logical. But in practice it did not work.

So I did the opposite. I started short and then lengthened the cast. With the 30 foot start, the beginners start with failure. When you start with 10 feet, they begin with success.

A 10 foot cast requires shorter stroke and less power. It is easier to get a proper stroke for a 10 foot cast than a 30 foot cast. The beginner can see that it is not the lack of power that is the problem but the stroke and stop. So a short cast removes the common beginner tendency whip the rod harder to extend the line as they do for a 30 foot cast.

Give beginners a chance to start with success. It is a better way to teach for the instructor and the student.

cjam93 10-17-2012 10:04 AM

Re: How much line should a beginner cast with?
Thanks for the great advice guys!

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