Basic Fly Casting Skills Development
BFF Level I
When a person begins their fly fishing experiences, fly casting is a required skill that needs to develop correctly to be successful. A caster must develop what is defined as a Basic Casting Stroke (BCS). This is the foundation of all casting skills and must be technically correct within the elements and principles of fly casting.
The Basic Casting Stroke (BCS) elements are:
Applying a smooth acceleration of the rod with tension on the rod tip while the rod tip travels in a straight line path. This rod tip travel must be over the correct distance for the amount of line to be carried during the back and forward casting segments. The stoke begins to end with a loop formation controlled by a small but variable amount of wrist and a squeezing of the rod grip and an abrupt stop of the rod motion to apply energy from the loaded (bent) rod. Now a pause takes place to allow the loop to unroll off of the stopped rod tip. This pause is our timing element.
To recap the above:
The caster demonstrates the Basic Casting Stroke (BCS) with the elements of:
Smooth Acceleration of the Rod
With tension on the rod tip (No Slack)
Straight line rod tip path (SLP)
Proper Stroke length (Short cast/short stroke, Longer cast/longer stroke)
Abrupt Stop or Speed up & Stop (SU&S) for loop formation & energy transfer
Pause (timing) appropriate to line beyond the rod tip.
Some common errors in casters at any level are:
Starting with rod tip high on pick up of line which both introduces slack and shortens the length of the casting stroke.
Using an uncontrolled wrist, usually too much, to not form true loops and to form undesirable open loops with little or no energy.
Using too much wrist on the back cast to make the rod tip stop traveling downward which in turn makes the fly line hit the water behind the caster.
False casting with good loops and throwing on the presentation to open the loop or cause a tailing loop where the leader snags or hits the fly line.
There are other common errors that will be addressed personally by your BFF Casting instructor. Mike Franz, BFF Director of Education & Casting Instructor
WHAT’S MY LINE? Remember that old TV game show with Gary Moore? The celebrity panelists would have to guess the contestant’s line of work or job. Many of us guess at the job or function of the fly line we just bought. Scientific Angler produces over 1500 different fly lines with different head configurations and lengths. Bruce Richards who designs most of these lines had written a book entitled “Modern Fly Lines” (which is in the BFF library). There is a wealth of information in this book and explains why all fly lines are not created equal. The right line can make a mediocre rod better and the wrong line can make a great rod seem mediocre.
This can get very confusing but there is a type of line that is great for quick casts when sight fishing, quick loading of the rod when fishing mangroves to minimize false casting, enables you to throw bigger flies and helps the inexperienced caster throw better loops. According to Bruce Richards this would be a line with a 30 to 32 foot head and the rest is all running line. Basically it is a weight forward floating shooting head. Fly lines that fit this bill are the Orvis Redfish line, Scientific Angler's Redfish line, Mastery’s Headstart, Rio’s Quick Shooter and the Wulff Bermuda Triangle line. Now a days most major brands offer a redfish line.
If you mark your line with magic marker 30’ back from the end of line (not from the leader) it will make your casting life easier. With these lines once you get that 30 to 32 feet of line aerialized and can see the marked head just beyond the tip of the rod it is ready to cast. There is no need to aerialize more than that when casting up to 70 feet. If you have a good basic casting stroke that line is going to fly. In most cases of everyday backcountry fishing casts are usually 60 feet of less.
These lines easily load the rod. Even with only 20 feet of line at the tip, it is easy to pick up off the water and throw it with just one false back cast and present the fly. If you are fishing the mangroves all day, this will save wear and tear on your casting arm. I generally strip the line in until the 30 foot mark is at my hand. I do this for 2 reasons. First, 20 feet of line is easier to pick up off the water than 30 and second, many times there is a fish following the fly that I couldn’t see further out. They don’t all hit within a few feet of the mangroves. The biggest tarpon I ever hooked into took the fly 2 feet from the boat. All of the above mentioned lines easily load the rod with 20 feet at the tip with the exception of the Wulff Bermuda Triangle. The first 20 feet of this line is lighter in weight but increases quickly in the last 10 feet of the head. You may have to false cast it more when fishing the mangroves to get the 30 foot head out but this line is excellent for windy bonefishing conditions as well. It seems to cast further than the others and with its unique head design it gives you a more delicate presentation. By Tom Shaw, CI
At the recently held casting games the Club Casting Instructors noticed more than a few participants trying to carry too much line during false casting, especially on longer casts. The result was a lot of slack line casts with no loops that didn't travel the desired distance.
As fly casters we should only be false casting a length of line that maintains good tension on our rod tips, and accommodates good loops. For some casters this may be just the first 30 feet (the head) of the line.
Try practicing with a minimum number of false casts and shooting line to deliver the fly. Start with 30 feet of line and try to shoot several feet of line. When that can be done successfully extend out additional line in the false cast while keeping good tension on the rod tip and making good loops. If you’re doing it correctly you can shoot a good amount of line. Mike Francis, Casting Instructor