The Overhead Cast – Single Handed Fly Casting Cycle
As mentioned before the essence of all good fly casting is to form what we call a loop. This describes the shape the fly line takes as energy travels along it. In order to Fly cast efficiently we need to use the three parts of our arm: the upper arm, the forearm and the wrist, back and forth within an up and down movement. The movements above will be varied to accommodate the necessary changes as we shorten or lengthen the line. Fluent and appropriate body movements help provide efficiency as we can easily change the position and angle of the rod effectively. Movements that are directed and controlled will allow the rod to travel at a smooth and progressive pace. As we apply speed, (mainly by movement of the wrist in the last margin of the cast followed by a firm stop) the energy stored within the rod will ensure rod tip turnover speed. This results in energy traveling down the line forming that all-important shape which we call the Fly casting loop.
How to do the basic Overhead Cast
As with any casting our stance is important and it can fall into two main categories: open and closed. The closed stance is often used while casting short to medium length lines as it is accurate and efficient. I always try to put my leading foot forward from the same side that I am casting from when using a closed stance. The open stance is different in the fact that we now will place our foot back on the same side that we are casting from and the feet will be positioned at around 45 degrees to the target. This allows for maximum range of movement and stroke length and is generally used while casting longer distances and with more line. It also allows us to maximise the use of body movement and observe the rearward traveling loop but care must be taken not to excessively rotate the shoulders.
There are various grips that we use during fly fishing in all different situations but for now I am going to stick with the most common one and that is the V grip. Place the rod grip in the palm of your hand and close your hand around it, now place your thumb slightly of centre and extend your index finger slightly to form a v shape between your thumb and finger in alignment with the rod. There is no need to hold the rod to tightly at this point.
Overhead Casting Cycle
There are many alterations we will make to our casting movements when fishing but they all start from good technique and understanding of the basic overhead or roll casting cycle. Start with the rod tip low and around 30 feet of fly line in an organised manner in front of you with minimal slack with the rod butt and handle in alignment with the forearm. At this point your wrist should then be canted downward to minimise the gap between the rod butt and your forearm, but this will also be beneficial during power application as I will explain. Start by smoothly and gradually accelerating both your forearm and arm in an upward motion, we must aim to rise on an incline at this stage to prevent the rod tip dropping back or downward behind. As the rod approaches the vertical position we will be able to apply speed and effective stop using our fore arm and wrist in a controlled manner. This movement is minimal but precise and is most critical in efficient fly casting. If done correctly our forearm and upper arm should be positioned at around a 90 degree angle with the heel of the hand around eye level. This helps prevent or reduce one of the most common faults in fly casting, the opening of the wrist and over rotation of the rod which opens the loop and/or almost certainly sends it downwards towards the ground or water. As the power application comes from the wrist we generate rod tip speed which combined with progressive acceleration influences and forms the shape of our casting loop. This is a very important concept to grasp. We then have to hesitate for a second or two allowing the line to unroll and extend in the air behind us. This hesitation along with the aforementioned movements will be longer or shorter as the line length increases or decreases as mentioned above. Our length of movements must suit the length of line.
The Forward Delivery
When the line has unrolled in the air behind us we can now make the forward cast. This starts with the acceleration of the forearm and arm in a downward and forward movement. The speed should peak in the last margin of the cast with the forwards rotation of the wrist. A firm stop will generate tip speed which we know is essential. The unrolling loop of line will continue as the rod tip recovers and straightens. As the loop of line extends in the air above the water the rod tip can be slowly lowered allowing the fully extended line to touch down on the water’s surface.
We have made an efficient fly cast.