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Three Basic Casts with Ed Jaworowski

Once you can manage a reasonable forward cast, often called a “pick up and lay down”, you should focus on expanding your repertoire of casts. Due to limited space, I can only describe the basic mechanics of three, but these will hopefully get you started.

ROLL CAST

The roll cast is perhaps the most misunderstood. Fishermen regularly complain that, “My roll cast is terrible; the line splashes down or piles up.” Invariably, traditional instruction is at the root of this problem. We have all heard instructions like “start with the rod at 11:00”, “let the line drape behind you”, “chop down as if using a cleaver or hatchet”, and so on. Such instructions might suffice for casting small flies short distances with a floating line, but to get greater distance, turn over large or heavy flies, or fish sinking lines, they compel us to use excessive force or effort. The reasons are obvious.

First, starting with the line hanging limp behind you represents slack, and you have to get rid of that slack before you can load the rod. Lightly toss the “D-loop” behind you, but start forward before it collapses to the surface. You only need a short piece of line (the “anchor”) actually on the surface when you begin the stroke, so have the end of the line no farther in front of you than approximately a rod length or so when you start forward. Finally, since the line must continue traveling in the direction the tip Is moving (not where it is pointing) when the rod straightens, stroke forward, not downward. You want the line to unroll in the air above the water rather than roll across the surface, except in one special case. This may call for starting with the rod tip well to the rear, even pointing straight back for very long casts. This allows you to make a longer stroke, and will load the rod more deeply into the butt with no extra effort.

Lefty Kreh demonstrates why chopping down on the roll cast is poor advice. Most of the energy goes downward, instead of forward; the loop is very large, wastes a lot of energy, and will pile up at the end unless you use excessive force. Photo: Ed Jaworowski
Note this exceptionally efficient and tight loop as it unrolls toward the target. The keys are: starting with the rod pointed well to the rear; stroking the rod forward, not downward; very fast but smooth final acceleration to an instant stop. Photo: Ed Jaworowski

CURVE CASTS

Aside from a straight forward cast and a roll cast, curve casts have more applications in many fishing situations than any other. Understand that what the hand does at the end of the stroke, the rod tip will duplicate; the line and fly will in turn replicate that. So, if you want the line to curve, you must make the tip curve as the rod straightens. These photos and explanations demonstrate just two of several ways to make this happen, whether casting sidearm or overhead. In either case, avoid stroking downward toward the water.

Here, I cast sidearm, applying a little more effort than the cast would normally call for. The excess energy causes the line to curve to my left, around the tree stump. Casting left-handed, which is quite simple, will allow the line to curve from the opposite side. Photo: The Complete Cast (TFO)

Making the line curve with an overhead cast, when conditions call for that, is a bit trickier, but if you sharply turn your knuckles to the right or left the instant before stopping, the rod tip and, ultimately, the line and fly will do the same.

In this example, I sharply turned my hand to the right at the very end of the stroke. The line unrolled straight ahead between the trees, then the leader and popper sharply snapped to the right, behind the tree. Photo: The Complete Cast (TFO)

REACH CAST

While a curve cast calls for modification during the actual execution of the casting stroke, the reach cast introduces an additional motion after your hand stops and the rod straightens. There are a number of applications for this cast. One example, say you want to cast a dry fly directly upstream beyond a trout, but must avoid having the line fall over the fish and spook it. If conditions won’t allow you to move to a better position, a reach cast can solve your problem.

Stop the rod tip going directly toward the target but, while the line is unrolling in the air, continually and steadily swing the rod off to the right or left. It is crucial however, that you keep feeding line with your line hand while making the reach maneuver. Photo: The Complete Cast (TFO)

 

When executed properly, the fly will go directly to the target, but the line will fall to the water well to the side. The rod will be pointing at 90 degrees to the direction of the cast, as if you had cast from a position 9 or 10 feet to the right or left. Photo: The Complete Cast (TFO)

TACKLE

While skill is more important than tackle when casting, better designed tools will help greatly. Of course, personal choices come into play; here are mine. For heavier warm- and saltwater fishing, calling say for 8 to 12-weights, my decided favorite is the Axiom 2-X. Due to its higher modulus and Kevlar double-helix, it tracks, unloads, and stabilizes more efficiently, with less vibration, than any rod I have ever cast. Period. This makes for easier longer casts, as well as those described above, especially with larger and heavier flies, and with minimal false casting. For lighter (i.e., 3 to 7-weight) fishing, I rely on the quick, light, and durable LK Legacy. It’s ideally suited for all anglers when situations call for accurate and delicate presentations.

For much more detailed explanations of these and many other casts, I suggest you consult The Complete Cast, the four-hour instructional DVD/Blu-Ray from TFO, on which Lefty Kreh and I collaborated, and my newly-released Perfecting the Cast (Stackpole Books), which summarizes what I learned from my 45 years of coaching.

The Complete Cast Can Help You Become a More Complete Angler

It’s late June and getting warmer by the day, so the fishing in the North Carolina mountains has slowed to a trickle. Recent rains have filled the lakes to the brim, so our tailwater rivers are running full bore; and the mountain streams, while bulging, are a bit too warm for trout.

I frequently use this type of downtime to work on a particular angling skill, usually either fly tying or casting. I recently chose the latter.

It didn’t take me long to find quality instruction. TFO offers The Complete Cast, a three-and-a-half hour DVD that covers all aspects of fly casting. TFO advisors Lefty Kreh and Ed Jaworowski are the instructors.

TFO, unfortunately, because of Lefty’s passing, has sold out of the DVD; however the digital version is available on Vimeo, which was perfect for me since I didn’t want to wait to order by mail. I grabbed a credit card and $39.95 later, I was immersed in one of my happy places, fly-casting geekdom.

I love fly casting. I can cast in the yard for hours and not get bored. Sometimes, Waylon, my young English Cocker Spaniel, will watch from the hill above our house. He’s as loyal as any dog I’ve owned, but even he can only take about 45 minutes of back casts, reach casts and curve casts before fleeing for the front door.

During my nearly 30 years of fly fishing, I’ve taken casting lessons from some of the best in the business: Joe Bressler at the Western Rivers (Orvis) Guide School; Bob Cramer of Mossy Creek (Va.) Fly Shop; Enver Hysni of Tampa Bay on the Fly; Mac Brown of Bryson City, N.C.; Henry Williamson of Brookings Anglers in Cashiers, N.C.; Billy Kingsley of the Blue Ridge Angler in Harrisonburg, Va.; and Dayle Mazzarella of Tampa’s Plant High School among others.

If there’s a fly-casting video in existence, I’ve probably seen it. Years ago, I used to watch Lefty, Mel Krieger, Billy Pate, Joan Wulff and Jack Dennis. When YouTube was born, I turned to Bill Higashi, Steve Rajeff and Davin Ebanks aka Mr. Windknot.

Suffice it to say, I’ve seen just about every shred of info there is when it comes to fly casting. Still, it was not enough.

I can now add The Complete Cast to my vast fly-casting/fly-fishing library.

Here are my thoughts. Keep in mind this DVD is nearly four hours long, so there is no earthly way to summarize the content in a single blog post. That said, here goes:

  • The Complete Cast is comprehensive. It covers freshwater and saltwater casting with in-depth instruction from two voices. Don’t expect to grab a beer after work and knock it out before dinner. Cherry picking the best parts or the parts you think apply directly to you probably won’t work, either, because you need to see the entire DVD to comprehend an overview of the concepts. It’s best to see the forest first, then the trees. My advice: Watch it in sections of an hour or so.
  • Lefty is a fine caster, a great fisherman and a phenomenal teacher. There are a handful of folks who have a good grasp of fly casting, but Lefty separates himself from the pack with his communication skills and analogies. Both Jaworowski and Lefty are big on sports references. Lefty often uses baseball comparisons. Jaworowski uses golf to get his point across. Both are spot on.
  • There are no absolutes. Obviously, the fundamentals of fly casting are pretty rock solid, but one of the themes in the DVD is that the angler’s objective and how the principles of fly casting are applied often hinge on the fishing situation. For instance, we all want distance, but how much is enough? That, of course, depends. If you’re in your yard trying to impress your spouse, 80 feet might work, but if you’re fishing for bones in the Florida Keys against a nasty headwind, 30 feet might just be the ticket.
  • It pays to have a firm grasp of the obvious. I, for one, could never really master a good steeple cast or a roll cast. With the steeple cast, you have to point your rod and hand toward the sky as if you’re casting the fly (with a forward cast) toward the heavens. I did the reverse (using a back cast) for years. On the roll cast, I usually pulled the rod downward instead of forward. Actually, I give myself partial credit for figuring the roll cast out before watching the DVD. The info merely confirmed my flaws.
  • Practice makes perfect. Featured are drills for loop control and accuracy. Casting through a hula hoop develops loop control; casting toward a hula hoop on the ground, by contrast, helps with accuracy. To up the ante, Lefty is shown casting toward a mousetrap.

 

The Complete Cast is a good DVD with a ton of quality information. It doesn’t matter if you fish for brook trout or bonefish, there’s something for every fly fisherman, from the beginner to the expert. To purchase digitally, go to Vimeo’s website: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thecompletecast/

And, as always, let us know what you think with a comment on one of our social media pages.

How to Accelerate Your Fly Casting

I must be getting older, because, I am, by nature, a fair-weather fisherman. When I was younger, I fished hard, regardless of the weather or household responsibilities. When I wasn’t working. I fished, I bird hunted or piddled around with my Lab. I was outside all the time.

I probably was a better, more skilled outdoorsman back then. The tradeoff now is I have a more balanced life. But as I sit and ponder the possibilities of 2018, I’m slowly running out of excuses not to improve on my fishing. Maybe you don’t have enough time to fish, but you can improve as a fisherman.

The avenue to my angling progress sits just a few feet away from me next to my fireplace, almost within arm’s reach of my computer.

Say hello to the TFO’s Accelerator, a fly-casting aid that looks like a miniature fly rod in a slender plastic tube. I’ve tinkered with a handful of indoor yarn rods, but the Accelerator intrigued me even more.

I’ve always struggled with too long of a casting stroke. Some people use too short of a stroke. I cast with too long of a stroke.

I admire how Lefty Kreh can lengthen his stroke and maintain tracking with clean, crisp stops. I, unfortunately, am still trying to find that harmony.

The Accelerator has helped me take the next step, but more on that later. First, let me explain how the thing works.

It’s really pretty self-explanatory. Grab the cork handle and mimic a casting motion. As you do that, you’ll hear a ball bearing roll back and forth in the top section of the tubing. Two clicks from the ball bearing on each part of the cast — the back cast and forward cast — means your timing is spot on. Hear only one click? Your timing or stroke length is off.

As you get more comfortable, extend the handle to imitate longer casts and tug on the rubber band attached to the top of the cork handle to simulate the double haul.

The Accelerator, invented by IFFF instructor Floyd Dean, is largely an auditory device. Yarn rods are visual. Loop formation — or the lack of it — provides feedback. The Accelerator’s feedback is more definitive, particularly for the beginner.

With my long stroke, the clicks initially lacked fluidity. I then shortened my movements, and the bearing flowed in perfect harmony. Incrementally, I lengthened my stroke and the bearing obliged.

The moral of the story: It’s better to start short. I, of course, was seduced by the insatiable desire to see how far I could cast. Longer, of course, is not always better.

Now, after a few sessions with the Accelerator, I can consistently cast farther — 80 or 90 feet — with less effort. Giddy with excitement, I called Dean at his Sausalito, Calif. home. We chatted for about 30 minutes.

A couple nuggets of info emerged from our gabfest. Dean invented the Accelerator about 10 years ago.  He’s only had one complaint — that it’s too noisy — but 99 percent of the feedback has been positive. Casting guru Peter Hayes likes it. I like it, too.

Watch Floyd Dead demonstrate the Accelerator here and be sure to let us know what you think about it as a casting tool.