2 The Backcast
Emphasizing the critical importance of controlling wrist movement, this is how the wrist plays out during the cast: with the rod tip down almost touching the surface, and with the line straight ahead from the tip, take up the proper stance. Now, turn the wrist to the open position—this means turned, out or away from the body, about 45°, thumb out. It is the same position used in the DRILL.
Now, begin the backcast by lifting the line and, at the same time, sweeping the rod up and to the rear. The sweeping action should travel along an ever-increasing sidearm arc. The open stance allows you to look to the rear and to pivot almost 90 degrees in the direction of the backcast to watch what is happening. Do it! Look to the rear. Watch the backcast! Apply power progressively. This means begin slowly, but steadily, accelerating the speed of the cast. Be sure as you make the backcast your upper body pivots to the left (left-handed) or to the right (right-handed). If the line were straight at the beginning of the cast, the fly moved immediately as you began the backcast. (I suggest a piece of yarn in practice.)
Watch the tip of your rod. As the sweep to the rear increases, you can see the rod tip is loading (bending). The arm and body are using the rod as a long lever to drive the line up and to the rear. Neither the elbow of the rod arm nor the rod hand pass above the level of the shoulder, except at the very end of a long backcast. Stop the backcast at about 1 o’clock. Just how the backcast is stopped is critical to the success of the cast. The time of maximum acceleration—maximum power—occurs at the very end of the backcast. How? It’s done by “flicking” the wrist from the DE-COCKED to the COCKED position—and immediately locking the wrist and stopping the rod abruptly. FLICKSTOP! Once cocked and locked, the wrist remains in this position until the very end of the forward cast. Locking the wrist into a firm position is extremely important. Do not fail to heed this point!
Once the backcast has been stopped, allow the casting arm to extend, or drift to the rear, without power applied. This is a very important point: The “drift” will help you prevent a tailing loop as well as extending the arc through which the rod passes. The greater the arc the better it helps the cast.
In this FIGURE, I have completed a very long backcast; in fact, as this image was captured and sketched, I am in the act of “shooting” line to the rear. There are several things you should note in viewing this sketch. Since I am making a long backcast, my entire body comes into play during the cast. You can see my weight has shifted to the rear and is on my left foot. My stance is open. My body has pivoted in the direction of the cast. Because it is a long backcast, I have fully allowed my casting arm to drift to the rear, and, as you can see my rod hand is turned palm up—I can see my fingernails but not the thumbnail. When practicing the backcast, if the thumbnail is visible, try again. Seeing the thumbnail at the end of the backcast is a sure way to know your technique is wrong. Among the most important points to be noted in this sketch is the fact that I am looking back at the cast. The result of not watching the backcast is usually a faulty cast. In effect, it becomes a blind cast. Considering the ramifications of wind, casting blind is stupid.
One other point—on a long backcast, where the entire casting arm should be allowed to drift to the rear after the stop, stab up as you execute FLICKSTOP. This simple act, slightly stabbing up with your rod hand, will help prevent the wrist from “going over the top,” or cocking 45° or more. This is what I’ve done as evidenced by the short piece of visible fly line just off the rod tip: it’s going up and out. Stop the cast with a stab up and out and the line will go up and out. The line always goes where the rod tip stops. Do not let your wrist go over the top!