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Ally Gowans on the basic overhead cast

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Learning to Fly Cast - Part 3

Casting Clock

The clock provides a convenient method of relating rod and arm positions to casts. 09:00 is always with the rod horizontal (or anywhere lower) in the direction of the starting point for the cast, 12:00 is always vertical and the other 'hours' fall into their expected positions as shown on the diagram.

Basic Overhead Cast

Descriptions are given for a right handed person.

Dry Practice

A good dry practice for the overhead casting movement is as follows. Begin with your arm hanging straight down naturally by your side. Now bend your elbow to horizontal with your index finger pointing straight ahead. This is the starting position for the cast. Now move your hand upwards bending your forearm and lifting your elbow and touch the top of your ear with your index finger allowing your wrist to flex a little as you do so. This is the position at completion of the back cast and note that you can still see the palm of your hand out of the corner of you eye, this is correct.

To simulate the forward cast let your elbow and hand fall forward to 10:00 (just below shoulder height) and you have then gone through the three stopping positions for a basic overhead cast. Try to do some dry practice before wielding the rod.

First cast with a rod

The back cast movement
 The forward cast movement
Commence with the line straight out in front at 09:00 and straight to the rod top, keep the tip low and avoid any slack line in the system. Otherwise some of the early movement of the rod is wasted by simply straightening the line instead of moving all of the line.

Grip the fly line under the second finger of your casting hand or alternatively hold the line between thumb and forefinger of your non-casting hand.

During the basic cast the line will be held at all times. Rod, hand, wrist and lower arm move in unison, accelerating vertically, pivoting around the elbow and shoulder until about 11:30 at which point wrist 'breaks' crisply by about 30 degrees, (maximum) to add to the rod speed and drive the rod quickly back to 12:30. (30 degrees is equivalent to two or three fingers width of movement between the bottom of the rod and the forearm). The forearm should stop at about 12:00 but due the slight wrist break the rod angle will be slightly further back.

Overall, the rod arc may therefore be slightly more than 90 degrees from start to finish but not by much. It is important to note that every movement starts slowly and the speed of the rod tip increases rapidly towards the end of the stroke (in the case of the back cast or 'lift' as it is sometimes called, the speed should increase rapidly just as the last of the line is leaving the water's surface). The stop is made when maximum speed is reached in the 12:00 to 12:30 sector. The stop is very important.

A stop can only be a stop, a 'dead' stop. Any vibration after the 'stop' is made will cause shock waves in the line, and stop that has been preceded by any slowing down of the rod tip will loose loading and produce a sloppy result. The stopping action has to be crisp, like flicking paint off a brush to project the line at speed. If done correctly, the line will now be flying upwards and behind you and will become absolutely straight in the air. There will be no line tension in the rod during this period. Arm and wrist positions remain stationary whilst the line is extending and straightening on the back cast. When the line is fully extended behind, i.e. absolutely straight in mid air, with luck the line will be felt loading on the rod tip by your right hand holding the rod or by your left hand holding the line.

Your brain will also have estimated the time required for the back cast to straighten because it is virtually the same time that it took for the fly to travel backwards towards you and you should be alert and waiting for the correct moment to commence the forward cast. The forward cast must start when the line is straight in the air. During the forward cast the wrist retains the 'broken' from the position from the backcast until the final acceleration when the wrist straightens at around 11:00 to give the line added impetus.

Motion is checked crisply at 10:00, allowing the line to extend straight and true with a well formed loop uncoiling above the rod tip. Well that's what should happen anyway!

So the basic cast in clock positions are nine, twelve (pause), ten or you can remember it by; TIP (tip down 9:00) TOP (12:00 and stop to pause) TEN (and when you stop at ten you should 'stop & drop', drop the rod with the falling line to keep the line straight as it falls to the water).

Remember TIP - TOP & STOP - TEN

The next article will look at false casting, changing direction and shooting line. In the meantime it is very important to learn the basic overhead cast because it is THE foundation cast.

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