The action of fly casting, simply described, is that the line is lifted from the water by the rod and briskly thrown back behind the caster. This is called the ‘back cast’. There is a pause while the line streams out and straightens behind the caster, who prevents the rod from straying back beyond the vertical by thumb pressure on the top of the handle. In that essential pause, the line, while streaming out behind the caster, is also pulling back the rod tip, making the whole rod flex. The rod and line are then driven forward again on the ‘forward cast’. This action is the equivalent of a spring being wound up.
The base of the spring, in this case, is the butt of the rod. As with all springs, the base has to be locked firmly, or its energy will leak away. The locking action is achieved by the ‘stopping’ of the wrist at the point when the rod butt is roughly level with the ear during the back cast. The wrist is locked and as it is dragged back by the power applied to the back cast and the weight of the pulling line, the rod is forced to flex.
Correctly done, fly casting will seem to require little effort or have little power behind it but will have maximum results, that is, the angler will be able to cast a long way without feeling tired. It is correct to say that if the casting arm is tired after half an hour, then there is something wrong with the angler’s casting technique.
Use the spring—not force
Really good fly line casters are extremely rare, and the gap between the standard of their performance and that of the average fly fisherman is enormous. Many fly fishermen with years of experience do not use their fly rod as a spring. They use force instead, but nevertheless believe that they are casting correctly because they can send the line some distance.
The technique of fly casting has been shown many times as a series of frozen poses, each one illustrating where the angler’s arm, wrist, or the line, should be at a«given moment. But it must be stressed that the action of the fly rod and line is a fluid motion which should comprise one graceful arm movement. Any errors picked up and not corrected immediately by a teacher could easily become a habit. If you practise the wrong technique several times and become used to it, it will be very hard to correct later.
Fish following will often be fooled into taking it rather than let it escape.
Floating line tactics
If fish are seen to be rising or feeding just under the surface, it is obviously sound tactics to use a floating line and a team of nymphs or wet flies. These are fished very slowly, across the wind, with no movement whatsoever, except the movement given by the drift of the boat. Fish moving up wind are very susceptible to this method, and if none are caught quickly when you know you have covered them, change the fly, or grease or degrease the leader in case you are not fishing at their depth.
If the boat is drifting fast, it is advisable to anchor in an area where fish are, and fish across the wind, again not retrieving.
Bank fishing or anchoring while boat fishing produces the best results as the water temperature begins to drop at this time of year.