Casting help

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by R00k, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. R00k Part time rookie

    Posts: 73
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +15 / 0

    I will start off by saying, "I think I'm getting better!" After a couple months of backyard casting. Im just trying to instill the correct machanics before I go out and develope bad habits and I'm building my confidence.

    Couple concerns / questions I have from the last few casting sessions:

    1. I find my leader gets some knots tied in it while casting. What causes this? Is this normal?

    2. My rod (9' 5wt Allen) comes apart and/or loosens up a lot. I've tried putting the sections on as tight as I can but is there something I'm doing wrong with the rod?

    3. The leader & tippet I put on seems to be all bunched up when on the rod, like it has memory - do I need to do anything to the leader &/or tippet to straitened them out? (I used a surgeons knot if that's relevant)

    4. Do have to have a specific setup to do a roll cast? Do you need to practice it over water? I can almost do it but the line always piles up at the end. ( I just tried the roll cast today for the first time)

    5. Can you use any size leader & tippet on a 5wt setup or are there limitations? Is there a general "rule" I should follow?

    As always, thanks for any help you can give. I'm sure I'll have more questions down the road... Good fishing guys!

  2. Don Freeman Free Man

    Posts: 1,272
    Olympia, WA
    Ratings: +217 / 0
    Sounds like you're having the usual challenges. The knots in your leader are from throwing tailing loops , which have a couple of causes. They are often called wind knots, but are not caused by wind. Roll casting works better on water. I'm not trying to spend your money for you, but you can flatten the learning curve by getting a lesson from a good instructor. You don't indicate where you live, but any of the sponsor shops can put you in touch with a competent casting instructor.

    If you're in the south sound, send me a pm, and I can put you in touch with several people who can help with out breaking the bank.
  3. R00k Part time rookie

    Posts: 73
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +15 / 0

    Thank you very much! That is exactly right IMO, that is why I plan to enlist the help of a pro or two or three...;) I live just north of Monroe... I plan to visit pacific fly fishers as they seem to have decent rates for casting instruction. Thanks again!
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  4. Steve Unwin Active Member

    Posts: 338
    Edmonds, WA
    Ratings: +89 / 0
    1. Tailing loops is correct. This means that on the forward cast that the top portion of the loop is falling below the bottom portion as the line is rolling out, essentially tying a knot in your leader. There are a lot of causes to this but the most common is either rushing the forward cast (starting before the back cast has time to unroll) or putting too much power into the forward cast. As your timing improves you will find that you get less and less wind knots and broken off flies.

    2. Some rods seem to be worse than others in this regard and that will probably diminish over time. You can by ferrule wax (e.g. Loon Graphitolon) but if you can believe it others suggest just rubbing a little oil from the (out)side of your nose on the ferrule.

    3. You can use a leader straightener or maybe your fingers to straighten the leader. It's basically just a piece of rubber that you squeeze over the leader and draw it through. Some people like them and some people don't but they are widely available.

    4. Roll casting is difficult to do on grass because you need the water tension to load the rod correctly. Casting is generally easier on the water than on grass because of this. It is much easier to load your back cast when pulling line off the water.

    5. There are no specific limitations, and leader/tippet sizes have more to do with tactics, conditions, and personal preferences. For a beginner you will probably do 90% of your fishing with a 4x or 5x leader and tippet. In the beginning you will break off a lot of flies (gives you a chance to practice your knots) due to inexperienced casting , snags, trees, bad knots, etc. So you might start with 3x for a little extra strength and less frustration while you work on form. I don't think you need to worry about whether 3x is going to scare off fish just yet.

    I am still very much a beginner myself so I am still experiencing many of the same issues. I had one lesson for the basics and then I just read as much as I could and watched a lot of youtube videos. I really like the "Ask a Casting Instructor Videos" made by Orvis. I just watched them over and over until I actually learned enough to know WTF he was talking about.

    It takes time but just keep at it, even when you've broken off your 10th fly of the day and wind-knotted your 3rd leader. I can remember some pretty frustrating days on the water at first. I find bourbon helps quite a bit...
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  5. R00k Part time rookie

    Posts: 73
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    Thanks so much Steve! I truly appreciate the help and words of wisdom. Cheers!

    PS - I too have watched the orvis videos about a thousand times!! Great videos!
  6. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,382
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +1,334 / 0
    You wouldn't want advice from me. I have a bastardized style of casting learned in alleys behind bars.
  7. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,632
    Ratings: +648 / 2
    So much to learn! Have fun doing it!!!
    # 2 = Sometimes the joint (female end) gets cracked and will loosen and turn a lot. Many other less expensive rods have this problem just because of the joint fit from the factory. Either way it's not a good thing and will keep happening though out it's life. To check for a crack lightly flex the joint and turn it all the way around looking at the female end for any tiny split! If no crack I would call the maker and ask why it keeps loosening - they won't want to here their rods joint is bad and may offer to send you another rod, because yes - it is a problem with the rod and is not going away any time soon.

    Next, the top half of the rod will start flying off while casting!
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  8. Rob Allen Active Member

    Posts: 973
    Vancouver WA
    Ratings: +392 / 0
    Dave Evans, NateTreat and R00k like this.
  9. R00k Part time rookie

    Posts: 73
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    Thanks guys!!
  10. Jim Darden Active Member

    Posts: 902
    Bellingham, Wa.
    Ratings: +222 / 0
    would be glad to help if you were close but you won't tell us where you are in your must be a pretty important secret!
  11. R00k Part time rookie

    Posts: 73
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    Nope, not top secret.... Just haven't completed my profile I guess. I live just north of Monroe. Thanks Jim!
  12. silvercreek Active Member

    Posts: 363
    Ratings: +207 / 0

    This is tailing loop as mentioned by others. The fly leg and rod leg of the casting loop cross during the cast.

    There are many causes, but the most common cause is a sudden application of power which causes the rod to suddenly bend and this causes a CONCAVE rod tip path.

    I wrote about Tailing loops here:

    The physics of casting causes ferrule to loosen. It does not mean the rod is defective although defective ferrule joints can cause loosening. Wax the ferrules with candle wax.

    I explain why ferrules loosen here:

    The smaller the spool diameter, the worse the leader and tippet memory problem. Make sure you have enough backing to fill the spool is to 1/4 inch of the spool lip.

    Others have explained how to straighten a leader. I would not use friction, because heat can weaken the leader and tippet. Stretching the leader should remove curls. Hold the stretch for a while to allow the leader to "relax."

    I have found roll casts more difficult to teach to beginners than a pick up and lay down cast. So I am not surprised that you are having problems.

    Roll casts normally need to be practiced on water because they use the water tension to load the rod for the cast.

    You can make a "grass leader" to practice roll casts on grass. This leader is designed to grab the blades of grass simulating water tension on the line and leader.


    This article explains the roll cast and how to make a grass leader:

    The tippet diameter is chosen to match the fly.

    The general rule of thumb I give beginner is to divide the hook size by 4. As you get better at casting, divide the hook size by 3 which will give you a thinner tippet. For a size 16 fly: 16/4 = 4X tippet, 16/3 = 5X tippet

    Tippet length is determined by how spooky the fish are and how senstive they are to drag. Longer tippets and leaders give you longer drag free drift as long as you are able to cast leaders and tippets of this length,

    Replace and lengthen you tippet if it gets below 18" in length. I start with a minimum of 30 inches of tippet.

    A rule of thumb the length of the leader is to use a leader about the length of the fly rod. So 9 foot rod = 9 foot leader.
  13. R00k Part time rookie

    Posts: 73
    Snohomish, Wa
    Ratings: +15 / 0
    That is awesome!!!! Thank you so much !!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. KevinLS Member

    Posts: 116
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +23 / 0
    Agreed. Not that I'm an expert now but those are days we all had to go through. Thinking back it's nice to know it isn't an instant gratification activity. The best things don't come easy. I still get butt kicked sometimes; beer or bourbon helps!
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  15. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,743
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,704 / 0
    What you need to do I find somebody from this site and offer to supply them in beer if they take you out for a day. If I still lived there I would do it for the fun of it. But I don't.
  16. Porter Active Member

    Posts: 6,463
    Kenmore, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +522 / 0
    So easy to say from the fly fishing mecca of Montana :p
  17. kurtataltos Active Member

    Posts: 134
    Los Altos, CA
    Ratings: +45 / 0
    I am far from an expert but, if you are looking for something to do... on the lawn, remember the 10am forward position of the rod and the 2pm position (closer to 1pm) on the back cast. Forget where you want to cast forward to, entirely. Back cast and watch your line go back. I mean stare at it going back, literally. There should be a substantive pause between the back cast stopping motion of the rod and the forward movement. That pause allows the line to extend out. Start with a short amount of line, maybe 20 feet. Get a feel and visibly assure your line is fully extended on the rear motion and THEN move the rod forward. Again, pay no attention to where it will land going forward (at this point). The key is to closely watch your line and how it extends, not worrying about your target. As you use more line the delay to let the line out will be longer. It's a matter of practice. You will get a feel for that pause. Once that feel is known, then worry about forward direction. If you load the rod and pause on the back cast, letting the line extend, and then moving forward... you will not have knots or "snaps" like a whip. Start with a short line and extend it out as you become more proficient. Then you can start considering the details of the forward motion and rod freeze at 10am.

    There will be folks who disagree with this suggestion and that's ok. As noted, I am not a expert. Seeking out a local teacher is an excellent idea.

    Regardless, a bad joke: a tourist needing directions in New York stops an old man on the street and asks "how to I get to Carnegie Hall?". The old man replies "practice, practice, practice...."

  18. Codioos Active Member

    Posts: 466
    Ratings: +104 / 0
    I can't pimp out this LINK enough.
  19. silvercreek Active Member

    Posts: 363
    Ratings: +207 / 0
    I think looking at the fly line on the back cast is a great idea. It is easier if you put the foot on the same side of your casting hand back at a 45 degree angle. So for a right handed caster, left foot forward and right foot back.

    What looking at the back cast does, however, is to cause the body to rotate between the forward and back cast. When a caster does that, they often do not take the fly rod straight back and straight forward in a straight line. They have the rod tilted a bit to the side and the rod swings in an arc and this causes the cast to curve a bit.

    So it is great to look learn the timing, but once you get the correct timing, face forward and do not look at your backcast.

    My second comment is on using the clock face as is commonly done. Some beginners interpret this literally as having to rotate the the rod handle as if it was fixed on a clock face. See the typical illustration below.


    The correct illustration is that there is a rod stroke with a rod rotation. The rod handle just does not rotate but the entire fly rod moves forward and backward through space with most of the rod rotation occurring late in the stroke, just before the stop. The late rod rotation is like flicking an apple off a pencil or paint off of a paint brush. That flick is the late rod rotation.


    If you do just rotate the rod with a fixed handle, you cannot compensate shortening of the fly rod that brings the rod tip closer to the casting hand. You get a concave path of the fly rod tip and that results in a tailing loop. Note that the path of the rod stroke above is CONVEX UP to compensate for the CONCAVE down path that rod shortening causes.

    See the concave rod tip path and the tailing loop you get with a fixed rod rotation.


    If you rotate the rod slowly, you get windshield wiper cast and wide loop as seen as the first common casting error below:
  20. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,743
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,704 / 0
    Shit, with all the info here I might try to improve on what I call casting. But I might not also. I can get my line out with very little false casting now. I guess with age everything improves.

    I don't even know why I put this bit of info here. Maybe it's just my .02 cents worth.