Fly casting is a funny thing, on one hand it is an incredibly simple process yet on the other there are loads of variables that lead to a good cast. Every instructor has a different way of teaching the same thing, giving actions or stages of the cast their own names or steps to follow to improve the cast. I spoke in the previous blog about the lift, that’s a must! Thats what sets up the rest of the cast, from the lift onwards there are a plethora of movements and micro adjustments we can make to really perfect the cast until we get to the final point, the stop, its the lift and the stop, that in my opinion are the most important stages of the cast.
So for now lets forget about everything in between, you have set up your cast, you are about to deliver the line forwards towards the target, at this point I say to myself I want to stop the rod at 12 o’clock (vertical). Now thats a mental trigger, I don’t want to stop it there really, it’s just a mental cue as with a bit of brain processing and muscle reaction you end up stopping at the 10:30 (ish) position. Now the stop itself needs to be as efficient as possible it’s about stopping the rod abruptly. For this there are many sayings in the fly fishing world, I have heard all sorts of references and examples given from trying to flick a leaf off the end of the rod to imagining the rod is a car hitting a wall and the line is everything inside, dramatic, but it makes the point!
One of the best comparisons I have heard to date comes from Glenda Powell, I have heard it many times at the various expos and shows throughout the years and it paints the picture perfectly. It conveys exactly what we want from the stop and how it should feel. Instead of a fishing rod imagine you have a paintbrush I your hand, it is loaded up with paint and you want to get the paint off the brush. If you move your arm forward with no hard stop the paint remains on the brush, no matter how hard you swing it, if there is no stop the paint will stay in place. Now to get the paint off the brush we want to move with acceleration into a hard, abrupt stop, its this stop that allows the paint to be released from the brush. The Stop, the harder and more efficient you can make it the more paint will come off and its exactly the same in the fly cast. Imagine the fly line is the paint and the rod is the brush.
A lazy stop on the forward cast and the line goes out in a big clumsy, wide loop, the more efficient you can make that stop the smoother and tighter your cast will become, its not about how hard you hit the fly rod or the amount of force you put into the cast, its about making that rod stop as hard as possible.
A picture is worth 1000 words, a video is even more beneficial, if you havnt’t checked it out already I created a short free video series featuring the lift and the stop, the stop of course features the paint brush analogy, complete with paint! Try it yourself, load a brush up with some water and try flicking it off the end of the brush, a lazy stop and everything stays where it is, an efficient, hard stop and the water/paint will come away from the brush. Apply the same principal to your casting and everything will be much more efficient.