Fly-fishing is essentially the art of putting a fake fly in front of a fish in hopes he’ll mistake it for the real thing and eat it. That all begins with the cast. Here, casting champion and Texas Gulf Coast fly-fishing guide Rick Hartman explains the basics.
MAKE LIKE A METRONOME
The casting stroke “is an art that is performed on a four-count rhythm between ten and two o’clock”, wrote Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It, arguably flyfishing’s most beloved text. Live that advice. “The biggest mistakes I see people make are to cast too fast or with too big a stroke,” says Hartman. Imagine you’re trying to toss a tin can off the end of your rod. “Keep everything tight and easy.”
The key to generating distance is to stop the rod – abruptly – at ten o’clock and two o’clock. “That’s what generates power and shoots the line with maximum speed,” Hartman says. Some guides teach anglers to think of hammering a nail into a wall, but Hartman says that often leads them to stop their rod too soon, robbing their cast of oomph. “Just make a nice, smooth stroke forward,” he says, “then stop.”
BEWARE THE FLYING ELBOW
Another common error is to cast with your arm too far from your body. Tuck a newspaper under your arm to practise, Hartman advises. “All that flailing your arm around is a waste of energy. Your casts will be weak and you’ll tire out faster.”