I've been slowly learning to "feel" the back cast by looking over my shoulder, and knowing when to start the forward cast by feel only. This in itself is improving my casting abilities.
Last night while fishing still water in a pond I noticed something in the forward cast I hadn't noticed before. Once in a while, just before or as, the line hits the water I feel a slight tug on the line. When this does happen, the line is quite straight as it lands. The dry fly lands softly and sits nice & high on the water, well out from the end of the line with no evidence of the leader. When I don't feel this tug, I'm more likely to experience a bad cast and less likely to see the fly sit up on the surface. (A sinking dry fly is a brutally honest judge of cast quality, I've found.)
I think it goes without saying the fly landing softly several feet from any disturbance is when you get the most action, but its the "tug" I'm feeling that makes me wonder. Should I feel this, or am I casting forward a little too hard for the amount of line I have out?
Thanks in advance for your responses and suggestions.
If I'm reading your post right, the tug you feel is probably your line straightening out at the completion of the cast. That is the makings of a fine dry-fly cast. For the most part, I like to have everything straighten out just above the water when dry fly fishing then having the fly land gently in the zone.
It is a fine line between being too early with the landing and having everything land in a pile or being too late and powerful and having your fly bounce back towards you. When you dial-in that sweet spot there and nothing that feels much better!
Jamie, once you can "feel it", you are off to the races!
Be careful looking back over your shoulder. If you rotate your shoulders toward the back cast, you may soften the rod stopping point (@ 2 o'clock).
That stop is critical for the front cast to work. The better the stop on the back cast the more you will feel the load in the rod. Hit the front stop point, (10 oclock), and don't follow through till the rod is horizontal. This is the most common casting problem.
Enjoy the feel, maybe close your eyes too.
Jackster - That's the answer I was hoping for. The fly was landing so softly and nearly un-noticably (to me, anyway, dunno about the fish) I was hoping that tug is a good thing.
Jim - I try not to look over my shoulder too much. Now, it's only when the line isn't behaving and I just glance back at the loop to check how that's acting.
Seajay - I will do a quick stop about 30-40 degrees above horizontal and then slowly lower the rod to about flat. Whether it's right or not I don't know, but it's working for me. I find it easier to get the full line out AND since I'm usually fishing still water, I get a lot less slack for the next cast.
It sounds like your casting has come a long way in a short period of time! The tug you feel generally indicates a tight loop and that is indeed a good thing.
With a tight loop, the momentum of the line is concentrated in a forward or backward direction along a narrow path and is the most efficient way to get a fly to where you want it.
Now the trick is to duplicate that tug on the backcast. Once you start feeling it on the backcast regularly, you will soon be able (if not already able) to shoot line comfortably into the backcast. Add in a double haul and drift, and you will soon cut your false casting down to one or zero when working areas at a distance.
Have you been playing around with the double haul at all?
Seajay, I see a bunch of folks follow through on the cast till the rod is horizontal, and parallel to the water.
I think this comes from trying to lightly land the fly.
If you throw the cast a little high, 1-2 ft above the water, and stop the rod crisply at
10 o'clock, you get the leader turnover and the light landing dry-fly too.
Then, you just need the right fly, and a fish, for a happy ending.
Lacking the last two, at least you have a nice cast....
Thanks for clarifying that. It's been a long time since I've used delicate rods and delicate presentations, but I haven't forgotten everything yet fortunately. For the softest presentations I used to stop the rod at about 10 oclock: however, I would execute the final rotation of the cast by lifting my elbow, not moving my forearm forward. So my rod hand would wind up a little higher than my head and about even with my ear.
I would use a downward trajectory on the cast. This would allow for all sorts of cool things to happen. You would have 3 feet you could move your arm forward while keeping the rod tip high to soften the drop to the water, and you would have the additional reach of moving the rod tip forward as well. You also have a lot of time to abort the cast if the fish rose while you were presenting.
You can drop the fly only and yank it away a number of times to irritate a fish not bothering with your offering - with the line itself never touching the water. Sort of creating your own hatch.
That is the way I do an aerial reach mend as well. Rod way high, slight downward trajectory. You can't have the rod go forward, or you ruin the reach.
Casting in close at 30 - 40 feet is a whole lot of fun - and the one thing I miss in saltwater fishing. There are all sorts of tricks that one can use river or stream fishing that are not much use to me now.
Though, come to think of it, aerial changes of direction and aborting casts are pretty common in flats fishing.
Jim, in my expirience, the drift is the thing our pressured fish look at (besides a yummy fly).
Many nervous mends kill the chance of a good drift.
Your tip about the Reach-cast is, maybe, the best single way to start/execute a good drift.
Whether fishing a dry, or a bobber, this is one skill we should all practice.
Depending on the currents, the "reach" is made either up-stream or down.