I have become obsessive about maintaining the casting plane. For me, to be truly obsessive about something, is unusual. I like to poke fun at OCD folks (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) by saying “There’s a fine line between OCD and ODD”. When people then ask, “What’s ODD?”, I say, “you know, odd!”. Probably the only joke I ever originated that’s gotten a chuckle, besides “A Reptile Dysfunction”, but that’s one for another day.
So what do I mean, obsessing about the casting plane? For one, I am acutely aware of how my haul affects the rod tip path and how hauling to the side can pull the rod tip out of plane. I always try to haul “in plane” with the rod, which can be awkward when the rod is more or less straight up and down. The haul’s effect on the rod tip is something I don’t believe other people think about. Another plane-related obsession is my grip, which is a V-grip, to keep from rotating my wrist.
My most recent obsession with the casting plane has to do with eyeballing the target during the forward cast and unconsciously trying to steer the rod. I smile when I think about Lefty Kreh’s instruction to “point (or aim) your thumb at the target” in the forward cast. For accuracy, your should point the rod tip at the target before you begin your backcast, in order to establish the plane of the cast. Otherwise, if you are trying to “aim or point” during the forward cast then you are potentially steering the rod away from the plane you established with your backcast. Yes, that’s right. You might be successful to some degree, but the truth is, any steering of that rod outside of the established plane, is going to affect the resulting cast, probably in a negative way. A hinge in the leader layout is a sign of straying out of the plane.
Recently I was noticing less than completely straight line layouts and I suspected it was due to my getting out of plane, even though I was diligently trying to maintain it. I suspected that I was subconsciously steering the rod and so I decided to make my forward cast with my eyes closed to prevent my eyes and brain from sending me any mixed signals.
It works. Of course that is an intuitive conclusion, it’s not scientific, but then most of our conclusions are intuitive, not “scientific”. In my opinion, I think there is a real difference.
To accomplish my “blind” cast, just before I begin the forward cast, I close my eyes, and I make the cast thinking solely about what I have to do to make a good cast. All of the information to make a cast is already in your head by the time you start your forward cast. Your instincts can make that forward cast, just maintain the plane and use the power and speed you have already computed in your head. Anything else you do during the forward cast is probably an attempt to use information from your eyes. Not using any new information from your vision, you won’t try to steer the rod and get out of plane (assuming the plane was established properly during the backcast).
Now “blind” casting is not what I do all the time, but I do this in practice to train myself and sometimes I even do it when fishing.
Nuts right? Not really, try it. Now, here’s something that happened:
I have this neighborhood pond that’s probably 110 feet or more across in one of its widest points. At the far side is group of wax myrtle bushes which is the fishiest place in the pond. The problem is getting a fly that far, about 90 feet, in a good, accurate cast. Up until now, my casts have always been short.
So Saturday I was looking at the nervous water in front of those bushes, and, like I have many times, I decided to try to get a fly to it knowing it would require a 90+ foot cast. I thought my “blind” cast technique might give me the extra feet that would come from a very straight line and leader layout. I had a six weight TFO Professional with Scientific Angler Smooth Amplitude line with a 50ft head and a 1/100 oz microjig on the tippet. I lined up my back cast with the bush and when I made the forward cast I was “seeing” the bush only in my head because my eyes were closed. After my release I opened my eyes in time to see the fly drop right in the shadow under the bush and a bream took it as soon as it touched the water.
I fought the little fellow to the bank and took this photo:
I fought the bream using the line only. When I picked up my rod, this is how much fly line I had on the reel:
Now I couldn’t measure the cast with a tape, but the SA Amplitude is 100 ft long and the cast was straight, no slack. The leader was approximately seven feet long. I think that’s the longest cast I have ever made and caught a fish and it is definitely the first time I have made a cast all the way across the pond.
Try “blind” casting to keep from steering the rod out of plane and see if you have the same result. – G