I finished up Sunday morning with my first ever fly rod and have to say it looks good, almost professional. The weather around here has really gotten cold and in 3 days I've got a total of about 30 minutes practice in. My first attempt at casting went ok but I quite after smacking myself in the back of my head. Plus I didn't want the church crowd pointing their finger and shaking their heads... 2nd attempt was a little better but more windy but I kept snagging my leader or line with my rod tip. Today I decided to shorten up my distance and concentrate on keeping the line high and without loops. At 20- 25 ft I did ok but when I tried 30-35 I seem to loose control and timing. Also at 30 ft I had problems keeping my elbow close to my side and broke my wrist trying to gain distance [ which caused more problems ].Bending my wrist seems to be my biggest problem. Its supposed to be in the mid 40's tomorrow so I might try practicing at the river instead of the pool. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to chime in. I need lots of help
I know exactly how you feel. I was a spinner fisherman until last year. It's hard to learn not to try to muscle it out. Letting the rod do the work was a hard lesson to learn. I found, after alot of practice that I usually had problems when I tried to hard. Once I relaxed and let it flow, it came more naturally.
I'm, by no means, a casting expert. I just know what works for me.
1- Watch you wrist as you cast. This will remind you to keep the movement minimal.
2- Watch the entire line on the backcast and the front cast. Let it almost reach straight back or straight forward before moving in the opposite direction, if that sound right.
3- Stopping the rod abruptly in the backcast or frontcast is essential. This allows the top (or more, depending on the rod) to move the line the direction it wants.
When I started, I started at 20 or so feet. I can get out to about 40 feet now. I'd also read up on casting, or get a DVD. Nothing like forming it in your mind or seeing it done. Depends on the person learning.
I do, however, advocate taking a class. You will keep from learning bad habits from the start. I'm glad I did.
That is just great that you are taking a fling with your new rod. There is no need to try casting longer distances until you have a little experience. You need to cast short and concentrate on your timing and the feel of everything going on.
The first thing you should practice is the roll cast. it is not too hard if you keep it short like 25 feet. You must practice the roll cast on water. Make sure you have a leader on the line and a fly attached. Take pliers and break the hook at the bend. Now you can practice and not hook yourself. Practice the roll cast until you can cast it out and the line is straight. Start with a short line (20 to 25 feet) and then extend it a few feet at a time.
By the way, you should always have the line trapped under your forefinger and the grip as you cast. Later when you have you cast under better control you can shoot line and develop you own techniques.
I think a very good exercise is the pickup/lay-down exercise. This is a simple cast best done on water. You get your line out and then make a roll cast to straighten your line. Now trap the fly line under your forefinger and and take up any slack on the water. You have to be sure that the end of the fly line is moving as you begin your pickup off of the water. Make a back cast and then on the fore cast you delver the fly to the water. The line and leader should lay out straight in front of you.
Do this until you are comfortable and the line is laying out in front of you. You should have no problem getting a nice straight line and leader on the water. On your back cast listen for a **** the whip sound. If you hear that your are starting your forward cast too soon. If the line falls behind you, make your fore cast sooner. Now you can strip out 3 more feet and do the same exercise until you can do it with no problem. Continue stripping out some line and practice with it until you can handle it. This will help with you timing and you only have to concentrate on your pickup and the back cast. Concentrate on your wrist and keeping your elbow low.
When you have it down and the line is high in the air and the lay down is nice and straight. Strip in line and go back to the length of line you started out with. Do your same pickup and instead of making a lay down, make a false case forward and then another back cast. Now do the lay-down. So what you have done is add one false cast on your forward cast and then your lay-down. Practice until you can do it and you are in control of the line. Add three feet and so on just line you did learning the pickup/lay-down exercise. By the time you get back to the same length of line you ended up with the PU/LD you will be casting pretty good and ready to shoot line.
This is a lot of practice and you don't have to do it all in one session.
keep it up! you will get the hang of it. I keep my rod kinda angled away from me to the side so when I backcast and forward cast the fly is nowhere near my head nor will the fly hit my rod tip with say a beadhead nymph and break your tip off. I found the key to getting some distance on a cast it to make sure the rod loads properly on the backcast so your forward cast has power behind it.. just get your cast timing down. the 10 to 2 thing but try to watch your rod on your backcast.. watch for the rod to bend. that means your rod is loaded. when it bends back like that and the line is unfurling all the way behind you, start the forward cast and it should give your line the power to give you a good cast! I am not great at explaining stuff so if you don't understand what I mean just let me know what your confused about and I will help. also go to youtube and type in basic fly casting. you will get 100's of videos showing how to cast a fly rod and fly fishing tips that will keep you busy for hours! keep us posted!
like frank said, work on the simple roll cast first. and it has to be on water. the drag of the water is crucial. i wrapped the RX6 7'6" 4pc 4wt blank into a rod for my daughter and at 7 years old she could roll cast very VERY well with that rod. i borrowed it from her and tried it myself and found it was very easy to roll cast that rod. i want to wrap one for myself someday.
you NEED to be out on the water with someone who knows what they are doing. watch them closely, ask questions, practice. or at least take a casting class in a park or parking lot. it can't be said enough.
If the line isn't flexing the rod tip on the backcast, the forward cast is going to be powerless. Try to develop a feel for the rod tip being tensioned as the line comes taught at the apex of the backcast...it's crucial for timing of the forward cast. Once you get that, you can almost be robotic with the tick-tock of the forearm from 10 to 12. The more line you get out there, the slower the period between casts.
When I was at my first casting class, thinking I was gonna clean up on this casting business (and failing miserably), I asked the instructor if he ever had a student that could never learn to cast. His reply,:
put a small book between your body and upper arm. that'll keep your elbow down.
tilt your upper arm out a bit. that'll keep your line traveling off to the side of your body and head. be wary of windy conditions.
wrap something around your arm just above the wrist and the rod's butt. that should diminish the flex of your wrist. tape. some velcro. they make something for that purpose.
don't be afraid to bend the rod. it's designed to be a spring.
remember, quick start, sudden stop. people often say 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock. i find it better to stop around 1 o'clock since there's a natural angle built into the way the rod is held in your hand.
shortening your casting distance to 20-25 feet can actually make it harder to feel the line load on the rod. if you're going short distances like 20-25, a heavier line would work. lines and their weights are designed to be cast at (generally) a specific distance, and if i remember correctly, it's at least 30 feet outside the tip. but really, the answer is practice.
i see MANY beginners having too much of an arc in the fly tips' traveling path. i try to keep the tip traveling in a straight path. yes, i do allow my elbow to leave my body, kind of punching the sky, as they say. when practicing, turn your head and watch the line unfold nearly completely before you begin your forward cast.
on the final forward cast, don't aim too low. experiment. and don't false cast too much. when actually fishing 2-3 false casts should be enough.