Visualize Better Fly Casting

tips to visualize better casting efficiency (fly fishing)

fly fisherman casting flies to trout

Every now and then you hear something that just clicks. Well mad props to Mad River Outfitters because they're on a string of recent videos that have really clicked for me. Most recently, they featured a guide's casting tip that really made sense.

If you don't want to watch the video, the core concept is this: finish your forward casting stroke with the rod tip remaining up high-at eye level, as a means to more effectively transfer the energy of your cast forward. If you drop your rod tip on the forward stroke, energy from your line is not only transferred forwards toward your target, but also downward, as your line is forced to follow the eyelets of a dropping rod tip. This collapses your loop, ruins the forward transfer of energy, and kills your casting, especially into wind.

I've been practicing this casting stroke, focusing on finishing my final forward haul with the rod high, and though there's no way to gauge improvement, I finally feel like I have a simple casting tip that's easy to remember. Especially when faced with a stiff headwind, this tip really helps to produce a powerful cast!

The guide also compares the basic casting stroke to a pendulum, which led me to another visualization for improving my casting. When thinking about my cast as a swinging pendulum, I visualize equal speed, force, power on each side of my cast, with me in the middle of the pendulum. Said differently, the power applied on the back cast should be equally applied on the forward cast. Easy enough, even if you've never heard that before it makes intuitive sense. But sometimes this is harder in practice, when the natural instinct is to drive the forward cast really hard when reaching for further targets. Often this leads to the dropped rod tip we're trying to avoid.

tips for casting a fly rod: imagine your cast like a pendulum
the pendulum of fly casting

Now let's modify this pendulum concept to adjust for wind. Remember the goal is to keep it balanced, but the wind tips the scales.When faced with a stiff wind in your face, you'd need to apply much more force to drive your cast forward, and need little effort on the back cast. When flipped, with wind hitting you in the back, it takes more effort to back cast into the wind, with little effort needed to proper the forward stroke on your cast.

tips for casting a fly rod in the wind: imagine your cast like a pendulum
adjusting the pendulum for windy conditions

If you're working on casting for distance, with wind in your face you can cast easily on the backhand (where the wind is helping) and really cast hard-forward (fighting the wind) to equalize the power on each side of the cast, all in an effort to maintain a balanced pendulum. Conversely, with wind hitting your back, cast hard behind you (fighting the wind) and let it go easy going forward (casting with the wind). When that feels comfortable, integrate double hauls to further your distance.

Try to feel equal power on both sides while keeping the rod tip high on the forward stroke. You'll be able to cast farther into, and against any wind with better loop control. At least it clicked for me.