My casting weaknesses sure become apparent when I go from my everyday 4wt to my 8wt setup! Especially when casting from water level in a float tube. So I've been trying to focus on form (I need a real-life coaching session!).
The problem is, when I focus on keeping my wrist locked, my fly ends up hitting the top 4 - 6 inches of the rod. This happens EVERY time I focus on keeping my wrist locked! I thinks it always happens on the forward cast, albeit I try not to false cast much with the 3/0 & 4/0 hooks flyin around out there.
Have you tried not locking your wrist? The wrist does play a role in casting. Joan Wulff describes the wrist motion as something like what your wrist does
when opening a screen door: at the end of the stroke, the fist tightens and the thumb drops a little. Hold your hand out, and make the motion you'd make opening a screen door with a button, or the old type refrigerators. Charles Ritz also described this wrist action in his book. Some instructors use a wet sponge
to demonstrate the squeeze of the wrist at the end of the stroke.
---------- Post added at 07:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:35 PM ----------
Tim Landwher says there's "No Wrist" in fly casting, and then proceeds to use
his wrist (beginning at the 6:00 minute mark):
It's a good video, but I think that Tim's emphasis on "No Wrist" is an attempt to get people to put there arm into play, and avoid waving the rod around without any power. Tim does follow his "No Wrist" comment with "No wrist in the beginning" of fly casting. He clearly uses his wrist, however. It also helps to get the rod tip out of the way of the line. Some people drop the rod too far at the end of the casting stroke because of too much wrist, and this is probably what Tim is trying to steer anglers away from with the wrist comments. Watch what he does as much as what he says.
Thanks Frank and Jim for taking the time to help out!
Perhaps I should have included some detail.
I've been fly fishing for a long time but have some bad habits. I've been able to get away with my sloppiness on small mountain streams and rivers on 4wt & 5wt setups, but casting my new 8wt has made my bad habits really obvious. There's nothing like smacking a size 4/0, 5 inch fly on the water behind you to compel you to figure this shizzle out now!
I watched the Tim Landwher video about a month ago. He insists NO WRIST. Great! I was hoping "that's it! That's all I need to do". (Of course, I did see that he himself uses wrist in the same video .)
But it is in trying what he suggests - NO wrist at all - that I end up with a fly in my rod tip. Every time. And this is where this thread began :-).
I'll heed the advice given here and keep experimenting on my own whenever I find myself on the water - which is fortunately at least a bit almost every day lately.
You can also try casting where the back and forward casts are on different planes and not on a collision course with each other.
A little more off vertical or lower on the back cast and more upright or overhead on the forward cast.
The one problem with this is you eventually put twists in your line that can be eliminated by either letting the fly line drift downriver if on moving water or troll behind you while kicking in your float tube.
On my forward cast I break my wrist halfway, as if I'm hammering a nail. The fact that your fly is hitting your fly rod tip means you're probably lowering the rod tip during your forward cast and, therefore, pulling your fly down.
There are many causes for this, depending on what casting style you use.
I cast with my right foot slightly behind my left, not like Lefty Kreh. (I'm right-handed.) Basically my elbow is down, which allows me to change casting trajectories. Here are some casting defects that cause me to lower the rod tip:
1. Pulling your elbow back. (Your elbow should move back because of your rearward body rotation. To me, making a back cast is more of a lifting or a flexing up motion than a pulling back.) 2. Beginning your forward cast with your elbow behind your rod hand, and therefore being unable to lead with your elbow during your loading move. 3. Breaking your wrist more than halfway during your forward-cast power snap. (To prevent this, try to pretend you’re hammering a nail.) 4. Lowering, instead of just rotating, your shoulders. 5. Stopping the rod too late. (This sometimes happens because of starting your weight shift before your casting stroke, or because of quickly accelerating your back cast, but not abruptly stopping the rod with a short, upward motion.) 6. Beginning your cast with your rod hand too low for your intended trajectory. (For example: if you want to execute a cast parallel to the surface, you must finish your back and forward casts with your rod hand at the same level.) 7. Casting with your elbow too far out from your body. 8. Having your right foot too far back or pointing too far outward.
All casting instructors tell their new students not to use their wrist because otherwize the students drive the line into the ground behind them, then pile the line up like spaghetti in front of them.
The fact that you are hitting your rod is actually a good sign that you are "getting it". Your tracking (keeping the rod tip in the same plane -ie.in a strailght line forwards and backwards) is excellent. You are also achieving very good "SLP" (Straight Line Path of the rod tip in the horizontal position).
That means that you are applying enough force to the rod handle to bend the rod so the tip does not form a circle when you rotate it, but bends enough so that, during the power stroke, it would draw very close to a straight line when going above your head. That is excellent progress.
Now all you need do is extend the length of the casting stroke forward, and snap your wrist just as you run out of arm length.
The line hitting the tip is a very good sign. Just think how tight your loops have to be to do that.
PS: I am surprised that Ard hasn't jumped in on this one. Ard uses ONLY his wrist when casting and is a very accomplished fly fisherman. I also use primarily ONLY my wrist when getting line out false casting. But we know how to control loop size and line direction with the stop and release timing.
You will too if you keep at it.
PS: I think I have some broken out stills of a video I took which will give your a better idea of SLP. But I'm rigging up my 9 and 12wts in a couple minutes. A buddy wants to go out for blackfin tuna in a couple hours. I think there will be some billfish around if we can find the tuna. Hence the 12 wt.
Rollin, I fish an 8wt alot in the wind, and have impaled a streamer through my rod tip once, and had a rod break from a bruise caused by impacting with shot/flies.
I've heard this is a very common diagnosis at the Sage repair dept.
Over time I developed a Belgian loop. Think larger oval stroke, and no stop on the backcast. No more problem.
What's funny is, I can use this dry fly fishing now. Finnishing with a reach, up stream.
Very sweet, light presentation, and an extended drift without a mend.
Good luck sorting it out, it'll be worth it..
Location: White City (tad north of Medford) Oar-E-Gone
Re: No wrist = fly hitting rod tip... ???
Just to add my .02 cents here. It's not so much what your wrist is/is not doing, but where you're rod tip is traveling. A form follows function sort of thing. If you're bringing your rod straight up and down on your forward cast the line, and the fly, will be coming directly at your rod tip.
Cant the rod tip over a bit until it passes your ear; at that point the line/fly are already committed to follow their original plan (slightly off to the side).
The above is also directly related to casting a 2-hander. If you 'wack' your rod with your fly, count on the rod coming through in too vertical a position. (Let's leave the wind out of this )
1. 3/0 and 4/0 flies are big flies and if they are weighted or have eyes or cone heads, then that makes it even worse. I think you are losing your back cast line speed and the big flies are falling below the rod tip. Have you tried to use a haul to help line speed?
2. As suggested by Jackster you can alter your back and fore cast planes slightly so they don't collide. I don't think this is you problem though you should try it.
3. Shorten the amount of line you have out. Too much line in the air with big heavy flies can cause your problem. But then it is the same problem as not having enough line speed.
4. Since this is happening on the fore stroke you may be applying too much power to your fore stroke. You can increase line speed with out using a lot of power in your rod hand.
5. Try shorting your casting stroke in conjunction with a double haul.
So I think you need to experiment a bit with some of the suggestions in this thread. I would try a lighter fly with less line in the air and a shorter casting stroke. Try this from shore and not form the float tube. You need to pin down what your problem is before you jump in the tube.