Ok, let’s talk about something I do know about. Distance. Alright I might not know as much as you but I know enough to have to have worked out one or two things that might help you gain an extra foot or two. Last weekend I was lucky enough to have a couple of quite proficient casters who wanted to gain a bit of distance and consistency. I explained to them that I wanted them to concentrate on relaxed casting and minimum effort. I think that once you have learned the mechanics and are a quite reasonable caster there are two ways to go if you want to cast further, number one seems to come naturally for most of us, more effort, try harder, keep repeating the same thing over and over in the hope it comes right in the end. The other is to concentrate on ways to maximise what you are already doing. Let’s face it, if you are hitting the ton on a regular basis you have more than a sound grasp of the mechanics. Now you need to start using your brain, try a few different things. The first thing I suggest you try is relaxation. Relaxed casting allows several things to happen. You stop dominating the rod and start to work with it instead of against it. You don’t shock the rod or force it. When I started to use a very relaxed grip I had a problem I didn’t, at first, understand. My forward cast would sometimes be several degrees to the left of where I was aiming and over a cycle of half a dozen false casts I would end up casting nearly 90deg to the left of where I had started from. Initially I just put it down to the wind or something. It finally dawned on me that because of my relaxed grip the line in the air was acting as the guide for my forward cast so if my backcast tracked a few degrees to my right, which is a common fault, the tip tracked a true 180deg to that on the forward cast and consequently I was gradually spinning on the spot. A simple fix was just to straighten my backcast. I also started to take a lot more care with my backcast, no more bouncing bomb, I wanted smooth and slow. Like a lot of things in life preparation is paramount and the back cast set up is vital to maximise potential distance. One thing that really good distance casters do is watch their back cast. I know some of you have a problem with that but get over it, open your stance a bit. You are looking for the perfect set up, and you will keep false casting until you achieve it. Once you see that the line is straight and the loop is going to turn over smoothly you prepare to hit it, you DO NOT have another false cast ‘just to make sure’. My back casts are powered just enough to do the job. I do not want the loop to turn over with a thump, I am not looking for any sort of pre-load, in fact I drift the rod back, once I have decided that this is the one to hit, to not only open my casting angle but dampen any potential turn over shock. Lefty Kreh says you are not casting a fly line until the end of the line is moving, which is the equivalent of Bill Gammels removal of slack Essential, and he is so right. I want to acquire the full weight of the line the instant I start my forward stroke, not to be half way through my stroke before I find it. I find it so much easier to do all this with a nice relaxed style rather than using brute strength.
And it works. At the end of the lesson we had a quick shootout……and I didn’t win! Lee was so bloody relaxed he threw a near 120′ to add several feet to his PB and blow me away in the process. I got quite tense after that.
There you are, one day cock of the walk, the next, just a cock. I had a surprise invite to have a day’s fishing in Hampshire and just for once nothing happened to stop me going. Lovely day, beautiful weather, lots of visible fish, great company. So far so good. I recently bought a new rod and had decided to christen it. Ok , a six weight was a couple too heavy but what the hell. I get my rod out of the back of Marks car and discover I have brought two halves of two different rods. ‘kin idiot. Luckily Mark had a spare four weight set up so I borrowed it.
The water was looking good, when the sun was out we could see loads of fish. We had a few casts mid beat and Mark had a couple of nice brownies while I was sorting myself out. We decided to go to the bottom of the beat and work our way up. I took the right bank, easy peasy. We walked up level with each other and spotted fish which one or other of us was able to cover. By then I had hooked a few branches and tangled the bank side vegetation a few times but I haven’t fished seriously for months and certainly not in such confined places so I just put it down to getting back into fishing mode. Several hours and two new tippets and half a dozen lost flies later I still hadn’t got my act together. It got so bad that as I yanked the fly out of yet another piece of shrubbery the bloody thing pinged out and went into a finger, beyond the barb. I had heard of a trick that can get a hook out using a piece of mono. Luckily Mark knew it so I had a very close up and personal view of it in action and can confirm it works. And that’s pretty much how the day progressed, Mark caught fish, I caught vegetation. Well, nearly. I did catch one brownie of about a pound but, I did get what I went for, a proper Grayling. A beautiful hard fighting grayling of just over a pound or so. My first ‘proper’ grayling and worth every lost fly, hooked branch and tangled dock leaf.
This bank side debacle has made me revise my casting. Grass is all well and good for working out how to perform certain casts but just add water (and some vegetation) and you have a whole new recipe for disaster.
Now, here’s something I bet some of you have never thought about. I certainly hadn’t until a month or two ago. When do you release the line? I have played around with late rotation, late haul, hauling through the stroke, rotating through the stroke etc, but never with when I let the line go. I just did.
It was brought to my attention by Rudi Ferris on thread on ‘loops. He has banged on for years that the best head casters don’t release at RSP but slightly before. I told you I was a slow learner. Why it hit home in that particular thread I don’t know. Anyway, I meant to try it out on my T38 but time constraints and a typical British summer meant I did not get round to trying it. Blow me a week or two a thread started about ‘cast and release’ which was exactly what Rudi had been on about but with full lines rather than heads. The weather has changed, for the better, so, I have been out and tried it.
The concept is that you release the line without stopping the rod, or rather, the rod stop is not the important bit because you let the line go at about the time you would have stopped the rod. You can in fact keep rotating the rod to horizontal and makes virtually no difference. This is ‘normal’ casting not balls out distance. I have always had a problem with short belly weight forwards. I tend to throw a tail on the delivery. I have never really adjusted to them because I was centered on distance, and distance means carry, which short belly lines are not designed to do. Cast and release seems to have sorted this tailing problem out, and not at the cost of distance.
Lets see if I can explain how I see it working; short shooting heads have always been prone to collapsing because they turn over too quickly and can land in a messy heap. I have this problem with the T38. The ideal is for there to be hardly any turn over, you cast a loop shape that gradually turns over as drag in the rod leg increases. In this way the line can travel further before the head turns over and collapses. One way to achieve this is to have quite a bit of overhang, say ten feet or so, so that the rebound of the rod tip after the stop is into the running line and has no effect on the main line. Another way is to try and release the line exactly at RSP, a tall order, for most of us. Now we have a third option, don’t stop the rod, just let go of the line at the right moment. It’s a sort of half volley concept.
I haven’t tried it with the T38 yet but I have with a short belly WF, and it works. I tried to film a slo mo today, I haven’t reviewed it yet but if it is any good I will add a link. I hope it explains it better than I just did.