Well, I made my way over to the Somerset, NJ Fly Fishing Show today.
I've been a little busy lately, so I hadn't even looked at the program for this year. Usually they have it split into the vendor's exhibit hall, fly tying demos, casting demos and destination lectures. Today, I walked in and found that there were 4 very good casters that were slated to be at the indoor casting pool at various times during the day. This was the line-up:
Needless to say, I watched a lot of casting today!
Lefty's approach to casting is simple, straightforward and elegant. With his elbow, essentially, pinned to his waist, he casts by pivoting his upper body. And he got well into his backing today doing just that.
Kathy has analyzed the mechanics of casting very thoroughly. She doesn't have the upper body strength of the others, but the efficiency of her casts is evident as you watch the economy of motion and the distance that she can put the fly out there.
Bob was talking about how to cast heavy flies; weighted flies or big streamers. Some very useful information in his demo; particularly when it comes to taming the snap-back that you often times get with a weighted fly at the end of the cast; particularly when you hurry a cast out to a fish.
Steve simply casts long. Way long! His casting is far from effortless, but his line speed; even without a big double haul, is the fastest that I've seen. If you watch Steve cast, you'll quickly believe that line speed is the key to distance casting. He's got alot of upper body strength and it comes through when he's doing a casting demo. He also spent some time on shooting head lines (which he likes a lot); he actually hit the wall well behind the casting pool and the pool is 100 ft. long, and on switch rod Spey casting.
Everyone also told heir version of how to roll cast and how to avoid tailing loops. Steve's tailing loop explanation was the best (IMO); whenever the tip of your rod dips down during the cast, you'll get a tailing loop; and there are lots of ways to make that happen.
Overall, 4 great casters! A lot of good tips!
After seeing them, I'm ready to go cast some line. But I've got 18" of snow on the ground and the lakes and streams are all iced over. Maybe I'll get an idea or two tomorrow.
Allan: I wanted to go see them at the Denver Fly Fishing show but the wife was sick so I didn't get down there, but the casting demos was one thing I wanted to see. Sounds like you picked up on some great casting tips.
It's worth seeing several good casters at the same time; at least it is for me. That way, you can easily pick out the points that they all have in common and that helps reinforce the basics of the casting stoke.
What I came away most impressed with was Steve Rajeff's line speed. As he lengthens his line, he actually speeds up his casting stroke. I've never seen that before. I was standing there, thinking: "with more line out, it's going to take longer to complete the stroke." But it didn't. That's when I focused on the line speed. As long as his line is moving faster with each stroke, then the strokes will actually be shorter, because the additional line speed over-rides the longer line.
He also uses the shortest haul that I've ever seen. Even on long casts, he describes it as a "bounce". And that's about the size of his haul; it's just a 2' bounce; quick, like his stroke, and pronounced.
I forget to mention that Andy Mill, the large-species salt water angler, was at the show; looking more Hollywood than fly fisherman. I'm not sure that his stint with Hardy's has been good for him. He seemed a little tentative. He was approaching the casting pond with a big saltwater rod when Steve started getting ready for his demo. I was anticipating a friendly: "go ahead, Andy.", but that's not what happened. Needless to say, I never got to see Andy cast.
I got a chance to see Lefty as well, his method seems so different than everyone else, but he presents it in a way that is so easy to digest. When I did take a casting lesson I was taught the clock method, and taught to cast overhead. While watching Lefty it made me want to try his style of casting. He flicks out line so effortlessly.
My question is for those familiar with his method, when you have to cast across your body how do you keep your elbow on the "shelf"?
How many people out there use Lefty's style of fly casting?
Would you recommend it?
I'm envious. The only great caster I ever saw in person was Jack Sharkey in the 50's, and my recollection is very dim.
Keeping your elbow on the shelf I believe refers to keeping it in a plane horizontal to the ground. If you are casting across your body, you will have little elbow movement.
You will have to try Lefty's style to see if it suits you or not. It is certainly more ergonomic than overhead casting and far more suited, in my opinion, to accomodating a "thumb on top" grip for the backcast.
Since he uses a sidearm motion for the backcast, the radius and ulnar bones in the forearm do not have to twist as they do with an overhead cast, which prevents a long backcast stroke length in the overhead cast. It also allows for upper torso rotation without screwing up tip "tracking" (making the tip travel in a straight line).
I would like to watch him actually casting to see if he is truly using a "Belgian" cast or a hybrid of it that he has developed naturally. I suspect, however, that his style varies with what he is doing and the variables encountered while fishing.
There you go Riptide. I didn't know all of Lefty's principles by heart, but that's the one that keeps the radius and ulna from "2 blocking" like on an overhead cast with the thumb on top grip (the blocks hitting one another in a block and tackle for the office people).
There's another very good caster who uses a slight modification of Lefty's casting method, and that's Jaworski, who Lefty has said is the best fly casting instructor out there today.
Ed gave a seminar locally about 2 years ago and his style is very much like Lefty's; a little more power in his stroke, but the same body rotation and rocking back and forth on the casting foot. Effortless casts of 100+' - makes me wonder how these guys do it!
Anyway, I came away from the Somerset show thinking that Steve Rajeff's method is great or him, but it will never be right for me. I'm actually feeling the same way about Lefty's method. I need something more in the middle; more upper body than Lefty, but not nearly as much as Steve.
.................. but I have been working on line speed - casting on the snow! And I can say that if you concentrate on line speed, then distance simply becomes a by-product of your cast