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Casting Faults & Cures
Why does it all go wrong?


Common casting Faults


In this section, it is my intention to point out some of the most common faults that can occur during casting. These faults will not only spoil your enjoyment of the sport, but can also be the difference between a successful, or unsuccessful day. They will certainly influence your presentation, cause a disturbance on the water surface, and have a bearing on your success rate, but in most cases will also restrict the distance your cast will travel where distance is one of your objectives.


Roll casting tips


Roll Cast projected upwards.


You can see from the picture above, that as the forward travelling loop (near the rod tip) begins to form as you are performing the roll cast, that the fly line following on behind is about to move in an upward direction. This is because the rod tip has been projected upwards by your thumb, allowing the line to unroll above the water on the delivery. This also allows for a better presentation of the fly, and more distance where required. Never start this, or any other cast, from a high position as the delivery will always travel downwards. (start low aim high)




The picture shown below is somewhat different, this is because the cast has been started from a high position and therefore the thumb has immediately travelled down causing the rod tip to also travel down and the line to follow. The end product will inevitably be a bad turnover resulting in the leader and fly crashing into the water and spoiling the forward cast. This will not only result in an untidy presentation, but also prevent you attaining distance from your roll cast if required, and more importantly scare off your quarry. (Remember; height at the front will assist you with distance and turnover)

You may have been told that the Roll Cast can be executed by using a short progressive downward stroke. This is also true, but (in my opinion) from a beginners point of view, this requires much more control, especially when trying to keep the rod tip high at the point of delivery. So I would suggest, that at least for now, you follow the above technique, but during a casting lesson, I will cover both if required.


Roll Cast projected downwards.


There are scenarios where the casting arc needs to be tilted forward, for casting into a wind, or into tight areas. I will cover this during you lesson.


Rod Joints.


Although the following is not a fault as such, if neglected, it can often cause a major problem when Spey Casting. The problem I am referring to, is that of taping the joints of your salmon fly rod prior to fishing. There are differing views on this subject, some say it does not matter and others say it does. My personal opinion, is that anywhere there is a joint, there is potentially a weak link. Combine this with the fact that the rod will then be twisted and turned (in all directions) during the many Spey Casting techniques you will use, there is a good chance that the joints will work loose and you will be treated to an almighty crack when delivery one of your casts. This can be avoided with a little consideration.


Taped Joint (note small fold in tape for easy removal.


To overcome this potential problem, secure the joints of your Salmon fly rod using tape. Amalgamating tape (in my opinion) is a good choice because as it stretches it grips and sticks to itself, as apposed to the rod, and at the same time creates a good secure joint, where as electrical tape, which I have used from time to time, has on rare occasions been known to cause problems with badly varnished rods as it does stick hard to the blank.

Before taping your joints, make sure that you have not attached the fly reel first, as this will prevent the blank from turning freely as you do so. Apply the tape about 1 inch (25mm) above the joint at a downward angle of about 45 degrees, then turn the rod blank so that as the tape is wound around the blank in touching turns, it travels in a downward spiraling direction. keep turning until the tape travels down to about 1 inch below the joint and then, because it is quite flexible, you can stretch it slightly so that it now faces 45 degrees up the way. Carry on turning the blank, so all you have done is simply reversed the process, taking the tape in touching turns back to the start position once again.

Securing your joints before casting will prevent them from twisting in both directions. If you prefer electrical tape, when you have returned your tape to the start position, cut the tape from the roll and fold over a very small corner of the tape before sticking it down. You now have a small tag, (see picture) so you can later remove the tape more easily, especially if you are loosing the light at the end of the day. It is important not to make this fold too big, as it can interfere with the fly line during casting.



Spey Casting


The Snake Roll (one of the many Spey casting techniques, and a very useful cast to have in your armoury)Spey casting is one of the most important casting techniques you will ever need to know, especially if you are a river angler, although it does have it's uses in some Stillwater situations too. When these casts are executed correctly, they will allow you to deliver a fly safely, to any position on the water you choose to, regardless of wind direction, or obstacles behind.

The D loop (so called because of the shape of the rod & fly line behind the angler).

These technique are not restricted to double handed Salmon rods only, as they can also be a great asset when casting with your trout rod. They are all casts that I personally use on a regular basis when fishing with both rods, and are very useful casts when fishing for Sea trout fishing at night as the fly is always delivered from a safe position on the water and therefore doesn't whiz past your ear when casting. This certainly gives me great peace of mind during the twilight hours.

Single Spey cast with the trout rod (note the important anchor point where the leader & fly touches the water).

At this point, I hear many of you saying to yourselves "ah yes, but this is a cast that makes too much noise when touching down on the water, and sometimes makes a slurp when leaving the water again on the forward delivery". If this is the case, then you have a fault, or faults during the execution of your cast. This can be easily remedied by way of a tuition session, and I would be more than happy to help.

Fly rods are often referred to as both levers and springs and to load them efficiently you need to move them smoothly and progressively in the direction you want them to go, this must be done by applying Tailing Loop (notice the end of the fly line taking a concave path, this will cause the fly to hook up on the fly line, creating what is incorrectly known as a wind knot).constant acceleration throughout the cast, with the fastest part of the cast being just prior to the stop. However this can all be quite confusing when first starting out in fly fishing. So just keep it simple and say to yourself, "if I start my cast by applying speed too early, I will then find it very difficult to increase the speed throughout the cast, inevitably ending up with a tailing loop as shown in the picture. This will cause your rod tip and ultimately your fly line (as it will follow the path of your rod tip) to take a concave path, (i.e. a dip) as apposed to a straight line path, causing the fly to catch the leader and create what is often called a wind knot. It is not the wind that causes this common fault believe me!

Let's face it, you don't see those beach casting guys whacking their casts too fast too early, Why?  because they would end up with a birds nest of line on their multiplier reels and possibly a heavy weight around their necks.

All anglers need a weight to load the rod correctly, these weights simply take different forms and can be dependant upon the stiffness, or action of the rod being used. Coarse and Sea anglers use compact casting weights where as fly fishers require a similar weight but need it stretched out over a longer distance allowing them to deliver a delicate presentation when needed. This weight comes in the form of a fly line.


The weight of the fly line in the D Loop assists the rod spring as the cast takes place.



The Fly Line (the fly fishers casting weight, when matched correctly with the rod spring).


Important points


The Roll cast is a prerequisite to learning how to Spey cast, as all Spey casts simply revert back to the basic Roll cast position, prior to the final delivery.


Roll casts and Spey casts cannot be delivered to the intended target by crossing over the standing line on the water, e.g. The rod tip, the D Loop, the fly Line, the leader, the fly and your thumb, must all be facing the intended target prior to the final delivery.


Make sure that your body is facing the intended target before executing the cast, this will make your cast easier to deliver and also much more accurate.


When Roll or Spey casting, make sure that you have your D Loop formed on your safe wind side, e.g. Make sure that the wind is blowing the D Loop away from you, not into you. This is not only safe, but will also assist your cast.


A Snake roll cast is an alternative cast to a Double Spey cast, and both are used in a downstream wind. This rule applies to which ever bank you are fishing from, and as with both casts, your Left hand will be upper most on the Left bank, and your Right hand will be upper most on the Right bank.


When looking down- stream, the Left bank is the one on the Left, and the Right bank is the one on the Right. This is the rule on all rivers.


The Single Spey cast is used in an upstream wind regardless of which bank you are fishing from, the only difference here being, if you are on the Left bank you will have your Right hand upper most, and if you are on the Right bank, you will have your Left hand upper most.


As a good Roll cast is a prerequisite to Spey casting, then a good Overhead cast is a prerequisite to Double Hauling. Make sure that you understand the basic mechanics of the first two, before moving on to the latter. This is a common fault made by anglers, and therefore following this rule will improve your casting significantly.


When overhead casting, make sure that the rod tip travels back and forward through the air in the same plane. This is a basic rule of overhead casting.


If your objective is to deliver a straight cast, and your thumb tracks off a straight line during that cast, then the cast will be much less effective. After all you would not try to throw a dart around a corner to hit the board, you would aim directly at it.


When performing an overhead cast, the fly line should travel over the rod tip, not out to the side. These overhead casting rules also apply when double hauling.


A double haul is simply an overhead cast with the addition of two progressive pulls with the line hand. One on the back cast, and one on the forward cast. These pulls will increase the line speed, enable you to feel the rod bend, assist with tightening the loops in the fly line to help achieve greater distances, cast into the wind, and gain the ability to cast into tighter places along the river bank.


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