I guess I do what you can call distance casting when necessary but I do not find it enjoyable in large doses. Even though I am tall and am good at casting fly lines I find that extended distance casting is both tiresome and troublesome. Once the conditions dictate that I must be putting out tournament class casts in order to make presentations I go home. I felt this way 25 years ago too so it's not just age, I like my fishing to be relaxing and I don't find launching 90' casts relaxing at all.
I think that good casting is mostly a matter of physics; set within the framework of your own body mechanics.
A person like Allan Johnson, former ACA distance casting champion, can put out a 100+' cast with a casting motion that's between 10 o'clock and 12:30 (very short back cast). This is his style, it's how he does it and it works for him. Others will use a variation of the 10 o'clock-2:00 o'clock stroke and will get good results. Still others, including Lefty and Ron Jawaworski will use a long casting stroke (referred to by some in this thread as drifting the rod).
I think that the reality is that we all have somewhat different casting strokes. Yes, you can always tell people who have been trained by the same instructor, because they share common traits of their cast. But, even within the same learning group, you find differences, because in the end, your own body mechanics have a lot to do with your casting stroke.
So, I think that everyone has to run their own casting stroke experiments and I don't think that there's a short-cut to great long distance casting. There are, however, people who are simply "naturals" at casting; just like there are naturals in almost every other sporting activity. They'll pick it up quickly, will cast well almost from the start and will probaby never give their casting stroke more than a passing thought. But, for most, it takes some time to get your casting stroke to where you want it to be. And for those who do like to make tournament length casts, occasionally, it likely takes even longer.
My own view is that as long as one understands the principle of loading and unloading the rod, and can actually do that, then the rest of the casting stroke is going to turn out to be more of a matter of personal taste, body mechanics and physical comfort, than anthing else. All within reasonable bound, of course.
When I first started fly fishing, I had to remind myself many times that I was trying to learn to cast well in order to be able to become a better angler; not simply to become a better caster. Getting past that took me some time. In fact, some of my friends might tell you that I'm not there yet.
If you look at Hartman's cast, he does stop and then let the rod drop a few
more degrees. The stop is done to load the rod, which is done to carrry and
shoot line. Hartman's stop at 9 0'clock means that he is going to really load
the rod on the foward cast. Combined with the haul, he's bound to develop
a lot of energy to be transmitted to the line.
An abrupt stop by itself doesn't mean the cast will work. It has to be combined with a properly timed cast in the other direction, or the line will
quickly drop, and all of that energy lost. That's the way I see it .
I cast side arm whenever conditions allow. It just works better for me, and
the distances I cast.
Take a look at this video: CLICK HERE You can see how much the rod bends
on the forward cast, which of course translates into energy. You can also
see that this cast may not work if a hook were tied to the leader. In fact,
I'd like to see distance casters demonstrating their thing in a real fishing
situation. Throwing line without a hook could be a meaningless exercise when
it comes to a real angling situation.
Here is a good slow motion video showing what is actually happening with most of the casters who appear not to be stopping the rod at all until it is nearly horizontal. It is easy to see the drift on the backcast after the "stop". If this were shown in real time, you would not see the "stop' at all, since the drift is so smoothly done, and it would look like the "stop" happened at 175 degrees or so.
The purpose of the "stop" or "pause" is to unload the energy in the rod, and to control where this happens so that the caster is controlling the trajectory of the cast and the width of the loop. When the rod tip velocity drops below the velocity of the line it was pulling, it is no longer pulling the line, and the line overtakes the rod and a loop forms.
If done properly, (with the rod tip continuously accelerating to the "stop" as one condition) the loop will form over the top of the rod. If not, a tailing loop is a common result.
The best way to extend the casting arc and extend the casting stroke is to to practice, practice, practice, first. Then get someone good to critique your technique.
I agree with a previous poster that if you use the same technique these guys use with wool yarn fluff with a clouser, you won't need to pay for your body piercings.
But you can bet that they change their casting style when using clousers.
the stop in a casting stroke is to unload the rod, not to load it.
load/unload is just bend/straighten...concepts we can all understand without further explanation. when we move the rod it bends due to the inertia caused by line weight, wind resistance, water resistance, and gravity. that loads...or stores...kinetic energy into the rod. a fly rod can only do one thing by itself: straighten out after being bent. by stopping the rod, we allow it to do this. the more quickly we stop it, the more quickly it will straighten. this straightening is called unloading. and the more efficiently (not just quickly) the rod unloads this energy into the fly line, the faster, further, and straighter the fly line will travel against all resistance: wind and gravity mostly.
one has to have this concept down pat - rock solid - before one can even begin to discuss things like casting arc (angle), distance casting, and drift.
now to the topic of watching videos and such...
one has to be a bit careful watching videos on the net. there are all sorts of fly casts for different applications. for example, there is the belgian cast. this is a cast well-known among european distance casters that falls into the set of casting techniques generally known as constant-pressure-casts. another type of cpc's most of us have at least heard of are spey casts. but the belgian cast is a one-handed, double-haul style cast. it is used most commonly with a crosswind into the casting arm side of the caster for the purpose of avoiding tangling, windknots, and injury. in the belgian cast, there is no stop or pause on the backcast. that is what defines a constant-pressure-cast. with the belgian cast, one can literally lay the rod back to 179 degrees without giving up efficiency if one has sufficient line speed and ground clearance to the side and rear to do so. i don't know why one would want to, but one could. it would allow a caster to shoot a lot of line on the backcast with proper timing!
but the guys are probably right in this case, and what you're seeing is nothing more than an appropriately lengthened casting stroke and some drift to get a nice, smooth, efficient loop for a long cast.
you see, what nobody has really bothered to explain to you here, and which is one of the 5 fundamentals of all good fly casts is that your casting stroke must get bigger as you extend more fly line beyond the rod tip, thus opening up your casting angle (or arc). so, if 10-2 is normal for you on a 45' cast, but now you're going to make a 75' cast; you're going to need to aerialize (or carry) more line in order to put more bend in the rod for the longer cast (you need more energy). therefore, your stroke must be longer and that increases the angle or arc. capiche? resultantly, you will also have to increase the duration of your stops/pauses to allow the additional line to unfurl before you start back in the other direction. this is timing. when you get the stroke length to line length ratio and the timing correct for the distance you want to cast, you'll just about be in business. the rest are minor details..."tweaks." haul timing and casting plane being the main 2. so the good old 10 to 2 guideline is just a guide that applies to a comfortable beginner's distance in fly casting. it traces its roots to the good ole days in the catskills of new york, where a 20-40' fly cast was all a fella needed to be a great angler. but frankly, with most modern fly rods and fly lines, i would describe the basic casting angle today as more like 10 to 12:30. 2 is too far back. i tell my brand new students to stop the rod when it's straight up.