I started fly fishing years ago as a kid and have probably ingrained myself with casting flaws that are going to be hard to over come. I was an exclusive trout angler on moderate sized streams so picking up line and laying it down softly was my only concern. If the distance was beyond my normal range I would simply spend more time stalking to get closer.
I guess you would say I'm a so-so angler, about my best day was 19 trout in around two hours. All my casts were 40' or less.
In any event I have since moved to Florida and want to try shallow water salt water fly fishing. Some times you can have reds past 30-40' away but generally a lot more distance is needed. I can presently cast about 30' of line and a 7 1/2- 9' leader without any trouble but longer distances are really giving me trouble. I start overdoing everything, have lousy back casts and all sorts of trouble.
So... how do you cast 60'? Is it possible to do this with a normal cast or do you have to learn how to shoot line? I have tried to speed up the cast, etc but I am still having trouble. I realize this is a tough question because you can't actually see my cast so I guess my question is whether some of you cast and false cast 60' of line in the air or keep it at 30' plus leader and then shoot for more distance. Thanks for any help.
Red Owl, do you know how to "double haul". I am not a fantastic caster by anymeans but as far as I know its the best technique to cast long distances. If you do a basic search on the web it will show you how. It will take a bit of practice but eventually I'm sure you'll get it (if you don't already know how). It involves pulling the line on both the forward and backward false cast to accelerate it. I'm sure others will be able to describe it more accurately too. Try a basic search and you should find plenty of suggestions with diagrams on how to do it.
Saltwater is where distance really counts. To get distance you need high line speed. To accomplish that you need a faster action rod. If you are serious about saltwater fishing you need a rod designed for that type of fishing. Then you need to learn the double haul. The double haul is not hard it just takes some coordination between your two hands and the timing of your cast. You can practices with no rod in your hand. Most beginners move their line hand too far when they do the haul. You only need a short 6" haul to start. We all do it slightly different but the basic stroke is the same.
Your best bet is to line up some casting lessons. If that is not in the budget you need to buy a casting video. I learned from THE ESSENCE OF FLYCASTING By Mel Krieger. It may be a little dated but still good. The Lefty Kreh on Fly Casting would be a good DVD.
I'm also relatively new to casting (now in my second season), but one of the things that I've picked up from instructors; and that's helped me more than any other single element in casting, is the imortance of the casting stroke itself. By this I mean the acceleration and stop characteristics of both the backcast and the forward cast. I'll lay out what my situation was, in case it turns out to be relevant to your question.
My intial tendency when I started casting was to apply all of the power that I possibly could to the forward cast; sort of a "well, the rest is all preliminary, the last cast is the only important one" type of approach. That turned out to be the wrong approach. By thinking that way, I was applying the maximum power at the start of each cast and the ending was sort of a "whew, that part's over; now let's see how far it goes." So, the front end of each casting stroke was strong and crisp and the back end of each stroke was weaker and loose. The net result; I got a lot of puddles of line lying out about 30 ft. in front of me; but no real distance.
Someone (fortunately for me) observed what I was doing and told me, in a nice way, that I had all of the right elements in my cast; but that I had them reversed!
So began the process of correcting my cast; a process that meant that I had to abandon what seemed intuitive and move towards something that felt awkward and that seemed, at first, to take me backwards. But after a little while of feeling like a complete clutz and wondering if spin fishing wasn't really such a bad alternative, things got a lot better.
Leaving out a whole lot, the net result was a cast where the beginning is a slower motion which accelerates rapidly throughout the cast and comes to a crisp, abrupt stop with a 10:00-1:00 arc and with very little wrist movement. I use this on both the forward and back cast and the results have been gratifying. This motion only comes into play when the rod is fully loaded; at it's maximum forward or backward flex. Now I let the rod do the work. Keeping 60+ feet of line in the air with good tight loops is no longer a problem and, by adding double hauling and shooting line, casts into the backing happen with pretty good regularity during practice sessions [though I have to say that the number of times that I've needed a cast that long in the real life environs of stream-based trout fishing have been so few that they're really not worth mentioning; in my opinion, casts longer than 60 ft. are seldomly needed for trout fishing and I question whether or not you actually have the sensitivity to feel a fish take your fly when you have more than 60 ft. of line out].
I've been long-winded on this post, but I wanted to get in the point about the basic casting stroke before you head into either single or double hauls. The reason; IMO single and double hauls can cover up a lot of casting problems; the extra momentum that you put on the line and the extra load that you put on the rod with hauling will improve your line speed and the shape of your loop, but if there's an underlying problem with your casting stroke, then it will still be there; whether you haul or not.
Good luck. The situation that you describe is definitely one that I recognize and, fortunately, it's one that I'm having a lot of fun working my way out of. I don't think that the learning process ever ends, your casting just continues to get better with every cast.
Since you are fairly new and still young relearning some basics shouldn't be any problem. As already suggested, get a casting dvd. It really doesn't matter if it's Lefty Kreh, Mel Kreiger or Joan Wulff. They all know what they're talking about. I'd actually recommend getting a couple of dvd's, you will pick up a lot from each.
Distance brings out all your casting faults, so if you are having trouble, you need to go back to square one and build from there. Learn the basic cast, then how to shoot line, single & double haul, etc. Don't be in a hurry. Make sure you get the basics down to no-brainers before you try to move ahead. And remember, nothing about casting is hard.
Then once you have your cast down, making a longer cast just becomes a function of using more line.
Well I think what I need are some of those DVD's. I'm going to outline what I have been doing more for others who may be having the same problems. I was having line pile up at the end of my cast- not straightening out and I was working hard, maybe over powering? Then I learned about the double haul and I think I should have waited on that because I have been using the double haul to increase line speed so my casts straightens out however that's it, I'm still only casting 30' of line plus the leader- overall distance 40'. If I try harder than that the line piles up and the double haul doesn't shoot any line for me.
I have watched a few of the You Tube casting videos and realize a good fly caster makes it look easy, it seems the rod isn't even moving that much, so I guess timing is everything.
I agree on the back cast, you need to get that line back and straight if you'll ever make a good forward cast and since I have been focusing on that it has helped.
The start slow and accelerate seems awkward to me, right now I am sort of slowly moving forward about 6", while slightly dropping the hand and then sort of a quick movement ending with a thumb push and finger squeeze. When I see the You Tube videos the movement seems a lot smoother than what I am doing. As I said before I got away with this on trout streams but now I want to cast farther.
Well, as I said I'm going to get some of the DVD's but if some of what I have just posted sounds wrong, all advise welcomed. I'm sure a few others may be going through the same thing. Thanks.
It's very difficult to learn to cast from getting advice over the internet from virtual strangers. Keep in mind there is no substitute for practice. Short practice sessions several times a week are better than one or two long sessions each week. In other words, it's better to practice ten minutes a day six times a week then once a week for an hour.
Stick with your plan of getting some reputable casting videos and committing to practice. Try to avoid the temptation of watching other people cast, especially in the beginning, unless that other person is a trusted pro.
Your other option would be to take some lessons from a professional or attend a casting school.
One thing to keep in mind is that us guys tend to try to muscle things to get more distance. It always amazes me to see little bitty Joan Wulff, at 39+++++++ years old throw a long line with absolutely no effort.
Without seeing you cast, itís hard to get specific, but you may want to open up your cast a bit to be able to see your line straighten out on the back cast. You may be rushing things--- generally the more line you have out the longer you have to wait for things to straighten out behind you. It sounds like your casts are running out of gas if they pile up. Hard stops on the front and back, and release line for the cast as if your aiming for a point 4 feet off the water might help tighten up your loops and get you out there a little further.
A couple things I tend to do when I try for the horizon is cheat forward before the line is unrolling on the backcast. This makes for less room to accelerate on the forward cast, and to compensate, I release line late when the tip is lowered, which drives everything into the ground. Making a conscious effort to drift back a little instead of cheating forward, and a higher aiming point seem to help. The way I know Iím doing this is when my false casts look great, but the forward cast after the line is released, doesnít go as far as the false cast that preceded it.
Some things to consider may be looking into a club in your area. Lotís of them have informal casting clinics, and itís a great way to meet folks and get tons of info that will really help if youíre new to the area and SWFF.
Federation of Fly Fishers affiliated clubs in Florida Locate a Club
Just out of curiosity, what kind/weight rod and line are you using? It may be that youíll need heavier artillery for SW if you have a light FW set up to deal with wind and big flies. I think it would probably make sense to work on your basic casting stroke until you can hit 60 feet, and then start to work the double haul stuff to reach out further. You should be able to eventually throw the whole line, or close to it, standing on a lawn on a calm day. Not that you'll have to throw that far to catch, but when you start wading and are lower to the water, add some wind you'll have a better chance of hitting 50-60 when you need to. Keep at it, you'll get there.