I want to pass on a tiny bit of information that I know is true about casting that I have failed to hear from in-person instructors or found in the myriad of literature and videos on casting that are on the Internet. Believe me, I have scoured the Internet for it and can’t find it. I have worked this tidbit out in my yard and on the water and I know it to be true. I will be surprised if anyone disputes me. I’m not going to write the FFI Casting Board of Governors for their blessing, I think I’m good here. But considering this is on the Internet, who knows what rebuttals I might get.
The “ten commandments” of fly casting, are actually just five, Bill Gammell’s, “Five Essentials”. Maybe we should teach “Bill Gammell’s Five Essentials (and one really good tip)”. Regardless of any possible kickback, here goes, sorry I don’t have it written in stone where it can be thrown down to destroy any golden calves you may have laying around. I don’t even have a fancy font to put it in but I will put it in a italics. Try to read it in Charlton Heston’s voice, that’ll help.
“One should always haul ‘in-plane’ on the forward cast.”
Wooh. Life changing huh?
Well, if you’re like me and you are ALWAYS looking for an edge to improve your casting, you might be interested.
Of course one of the major mistakes I see people make when hauling is not following the line with their hauling hand after the back cast haul. If you want to know more about what I am referring to, please check out Bruce Chard’s Double Haul Drill. Bruce Chard’s Double Haul Drill
If your haul hand is following properly, then you are ready for my tip. When you re-position after the haul your hand will end up slightly below the reel. For the forward cast haul, if you’re like most folks you simply haul in front of or across your chest, but instead, you should haul DOWN, keeping the haul in the casting plane of the rod and line. If you haul off to the side, you will be pulling sideways AGAINST the casting plane. This cross-plane haul will wiggle the rod sideways and it will affect the accuracy AND distance. The haul should be in plane with the cast so that the rod or tip bends in-plane with the cast. Makes sense doesn’t it?
If you are canting the rod then the off-plane effect may not be very great, but the best accuracy is obtained when the casting plane is almost vertical, better aligning with the target. With an almost vertical rod, a sideways, across the chest haul is going to have a material effect. Obviously you have less room to haul when you are hauling downward. If you’re not careful your hand could collide with with your body, but if that happens, you are hauling too long. The haul should be short and of course, smooth. A really long haul actually can actually ruin your cast. Remember 85% of your distance is from your rod hand, 15% of your distance is from your haul. That 15% is very important, but these extremely long hauls I see some saltwater fishermen make, with their hand winding up stuck out far behind them is too long. Just hauling long is not enough, there must be constant acceleration, just like in the rod hand. The last part of that long haul is a waste if acceleration isn’t maintained and it will undo what could have been a great cast. It is better to use a shorter haul that is in-plane, with the right timing and acceleration, than some extremely long haul that is out-of-plane with the cast.
You can check this out easily enough with a little yard casting. I have a tip-flex rod, a TFO Mangrove, that demonstrates the effect very well. I can even use an off-plane haul to simulate an overpowered cast, making the line hook. If I make some deliberate out of plane hauls and then do another cast hauling in-plane, the result is easily seen by just observing the straighter layout of line on the yard.
I have a stiff fly rod that does not display as much difference on short casts, but the difference does show up when I try cast to small targets and it shows up greatly when I do distance casts. Hauling in-plane provides more distance. And if you are having distal heaps on really long casts, insuring your final haul is in-plane may clear it up.
Now this may seem a little awkward to line up your hauling hand with your casting hand. You may consider it uncomfortable, but it can be done. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to be so exact about hauling in-plane when false casting, just mainly on the presentation or forward cast. It also helps if your backcast before the final forward cast is in-plane also.
So that’s my tip. You can ignore it and probably get along fine, but if you are out to improve your accuracy and distance, try to make it a habit. It won’t make a giant improvement, but it’s definitely there and if you try it both ways and notice the difference, it may inspire you to begin consciously hauling in-plane.