3 The Forward Cast
At the end of the backcast the line should be up and rolling out as the loop straightens—now is the time to begin the forward cast. That’s exactly what I am doing in this photo. Importantly, the wrist is still locked in the cocked position. Begin the forward stroke body just before the line fully straightens by pulling your elbow back to the side of your body. Important: the elbow leads the rod in the forward cast until power is applied (FLICKSTOP) at the end of the cast. Sweep the cast forward on a more vertical plain than the sidearm arc used during the backcast. In sum, the path of the back and forward casts inscribe an oval when viewed from either above or the front.
You can see that I’ve begun to retract my arm and that my elbow is still leading the cast. Already my rod hand is turning to the vertical position, the overhead plane the forward cast will follow. Note, too, my weight has shifted to a balance point between the left and right foot as I begin to put my entire body into making the forward cast. It is quite evident that my rod and line hands remain in relatively close contact. Like a very good artisan at work on the putting green who keeps the head down on the putt, I am still watching to the rear.
In the foregoing photo, I have started forward following an overhead or vertical plane driving the rod and line forward. The moment of greatest acceleration will be at the very end of the forward cast. You can see my hands are still close together, and my arm is retracted from the extended position. At this point in the cast, my forearm is almost vertical. The wrist remains locked in the cocked position. My weight is shifting forward. Importantly, I am still watching my line, just as you should do. As I continue the cast and begin my acceleration, the rod begins to load.
In this photo, I have driven the rod forward along a near vertical plane. My hand has turned from the open to vertical position. Turning my hand is important because my thumb, on top of the rod grip, is critical to giving me absolute control in applying power. Remember this: to maximize your cast, inscribe an oval pattern in the air. Take the rod back along the high sidearm path and drive it forward using the near vertical or overhead thrust. This image was taken at the very moment I am doing FLICKSTOP—flicking the wrist back from the cocked to the de-cocked position—and “shooting” the line forward.
I am now nearing the end of the casting sequence. My weight is shifted well forward and having completed FLICKSTOP, my wrist is returned to the de-cocked position, as the fly line shoots forward. My rod arm is now fully extended, as I follow-through, and the line loop is well forward and out of view. Note the straight line of my rod arm and hand in the final position. Again, note my hands remain in close proximity, one to the other. Why do I still have line in my line hand if I am “shooting” it forward? The answer is
that the line is passing through an “O” ring I’ve formed with the thumb and index finger. This allows me to maintain line control at all times. It is a desirable habit all fly fishers should imitate without conscious thought.
Keep this firmly in mind—there is no reason for the rod hand to ever rise above the line of the eye at any time, except to follow-through (or drift) at the end of a very long backcast. Stop, if you find yourself reaching up. This error usually results when the caster decides to “help” the rod achieve a little more distance. It is a silly error that everyone makes, especially when they begin to tire. Instead, try to accelerate and apply power smoothly as in the backcast. Do this gradually and increasingly until the moment of maximum power at the end of the cast—the very fast “flick” as in FLICKSTOP. How do you apply maximum power in such a short distance? It’s easy—it’s done by “flicking” the wrist back to the original de-cocked position, locking it and stopping the rod immediately, as in the backcast. Depending on the intent of the cast, wind, and other physical factors, stop the rod at about 11 to 10 o’clock. Remember this—if you stop the rod between these points, the rod tip will continue to spring forward (deflect) until all of the stored energy is released. As soon as the fly line’s loop passes the rod tip, however, you can follow-through dropping the rod tip to the water without affecting the flight of the line. The objective is to be ready to fish as the line settles to the water.
I have reached the end of the cast or, if you prefer, the start point for the next cast. The rod has been dropped so that the tip of the rod almost touches the water. I am ready to fish. My balance is restored and I’ve assumed my normal relaxed stance after making the cast.