Casting Approach

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  JohnMD1022 2 years, 11 months ago.

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    Dry Fly Guy

    Back a few years ago I had the occasion to witness two gentlemen playing around with some new  5 weight rods, and evaluate them (and each other).  They had a large grass field at their disposal, with multiple circular targets at a variety of distances set up.  The furthest targets were some 70 feet away, and the closest targets were set at about 20 feet from the casting circle.  These gentlemen were both incredible casters, and I was truly inspired by what each of them could do with a fly rod and line, but their “approach” to casting these rods (and evaluating them) was very different from one another.

    One gentleman was actively “engaged” in his casting, and he was usually making some point about how you need to be able to get the rod to “punch” the line out there, even with a head wind, as he cast to the various targets. He’d point out that higher line speed and aerodynamic loops are the only way to do that, and as long as you aren’t “drilling holes” in the water, a line quickly rolled out in the air will “fall” just as softly as one that rolled out more slowly. So a gentle presentation (if required) isn’t compromised either, and you get the best of both worlds.  His casting stroke was relatively forceful, quick, and short (by comparison), and he looked like he was exerting some energy while casting. He could also cast (shoot) a full fly line with every rod I saw him use.

    When this gentleman wasn’t casting, it was almost comical to watch his body language as he followed the other gentleman’s casting. He’d fidget and rock back and forth with the false casting, then really lean forward into the final forward cast, even though the rod wasn’t in his hand.  At times though, I wondered if it was about all he could do to restrain himself from ripping the rod away from the other gentleman, and really put some oooommph into it.

    As I’m sure you’ve already discerned, the other gentleman looked much more relaxed while casting, and his stroke seemed slower and longer for the same casting distances. (He reached every target without issue, but to be fair, I never saw him cast a full fly line, nor even attempt to do so.)  Line speeds also appeared to be slower, and his loops were a bit wider than the other gentlemen’s. Still tight loops mind you with great shape, but noticeably wider, especially as his distance increased. He rarely made a haul (double or otherwise) that I could detect, and he argued that they should be a tool for use when needed. (e.g.: casting into a headwind) even though fly fishermen these days seem to use them as a crutch to compensate for their poor casting technique.  (He did drift more though.)  He also argued that by improving your casting stroke (technique), you will consistently get far more distance than you ever will by double hauling. For him, “effortless casting is pretty”, and “if you look like you’re working, you’re ugly”.  (Which, as I recall, the other gentleman took some “feigned” offense to.)

    Now as I said previously, both of these gentlemen were incredible casters, and are easily two of the finest casters I’ve ever personally seen.  While their evaluations and discussions were highly spirited, they interacted as old friends ribbing each other, and not as true adversaries.  Still their debate continued until they were both laughing at each other, but neither of them ever conceded anything to the other.

    In reflecting on this experience, I’m reminded of my own casting style and approach, and how it has evolved over the years, and I wondered, what’s yours?  And do dry fly anglers tend toward one approach over another?

    ~ DFG



    I think the cast should match your natural timing. That would include the rod you use. I’m more relaxed in my casting, because it suits my natural timing. If I try to speed it up, or use a fast rod my cast falls apart. Plus, it feels like too much work.

    My fishing/casting should be fun. I never considered work as fun. I’d rather be accurate than long. Casting the whole line always seemed worthless to me. I can’t see anything that far away, and how in the world do you mend the whole line? It’s silly.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Creek.


    When I learned there were only books or once dad and I found th fff people to learn from…
    I’m a very natural timing based caster….. if you’re working at it you’re trying too hard…. I can cast a whole fly line and some backing for show in a group but 50 ft accuracy and closer is all that matters for fishing…. I seldom haul unless reaching for a fish in unusual circumstances…. My stroke is somewhat elliptical but works for me… Years and years ago I had a lesson from lefty when he advocated the lift and stick approach and have been to the Wulff classes but although I’ve kept elements of both I have my own pretty gentle timing based approach (bamboo is very conducive to this) oddly enough in my favored tiny mountain waters I end up using a modified spey snake roll more than any other cast to get back under the laurels….



    Casting the entire line is something for demonstration casters …like Creek, I can’t see that far let alone cast out a line that distance … Most my casting on the small creeks and streams I fly fish is accomplished with short precise casts, mostly in the 25-35’area. Roll casting is done 75% of the time…therefore my appreciation of soft flexing rods, I find they are much more proficient when roll casting, they load much better …on occasion will take out a 8’0 bamboo rod with a 6 or 7 weight line and appreciate the power of the rod thing is short accurate presentation ..



    I relate this to golf. You drive for show and putt for dough. Not that I am a golfer by any means, I play whack f@*#, but the same is true, that it is more important to be accurate than to be long.

    I also find it hard to sight fish from 40-80 feet.

    As you all know, you may only get 1 cast so make it the best one you got.



    I love the rhythm of it. If I’m working it’s not going to happen for me. I only recently found my cast into the backing, but havent’ figured out why I might need it. It was just a goal for me personally.

    I mostly river fish or tube fish. Neither one needs to be too far for my tastes.

    An 8′ rod, 8′ – 10′ of leader and about 30′ of line and you’re way out there. I catch a lot of fish. That works for me.



    No need for me to cast out the entire fly line. Small streams is where its at for me. Soft subtle accurate cast is most important . Long cast for Atlantic Salmon , Steelhead and Salt I am sure is far more important . Besides it’s hard to see a size 22 dry over 30 feet :)



    Interesting topic.

    I’ve found that if the rod and line are matched I can cast the line, and I’m sure all of you can do the same.

    I learned to double haul when I learned to cast, and while I might be capable of re-learning it, it is not something I need to know.At almost 6 dozen years old, I don’t need to work that hard.

    I’ve never tried to cast an entire line, but I have a WF3 that I am going to shorten by 30 feet (2 tenkara lines, 12 and 18 feet from the extra) so I can fit a bit of 12 lb backing on a Shakespeare International 2850 reel.

    Maybe I’ll try to cast the entire line that’s left.


    • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by  JohnMD1022.
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