The Far Side

The Far Side comic strip by Gary Larson was always my favorite. The strip had a really unique sense of humor and I miss it to this day. Well, recently I learned how to get to the “far side” too, with a cast.

Jeff Ferguson, an MCI and FFI Casting Board of Governors member gave our club a casting clinic just a couple of weeks ago. I paid attention to everything he had to say but a few things really were new to me and I really enjoyed learning new things in fly casting. One thing I learned that I have been able to take immediate advantage of in my local fishing trips is the vertical curve cast.

I have always been able to do an over-powered side-arm cast to get around objects and I even thought I was pretty good at it, though the off-shoulder version of it to curve a cast to my right was pretty shaky and awkward. Also the extra power can be problematic in that if you get your distance wrong, you can’t realize your mistake and pull the cast back in time to avoid the fly potentially colliding with the object you are trying to cast around.

Jeff worked with me and showed me how, while casting with the rod almost vertical, to cast the fly behind objects without having to overpower the cast. By killing my back cast, which is basically using just enough power to get the line behind me, and then starting my cast in a direction about 45 degrees away from the target and then bringing the rod back to the target, the line will do an elbow just as neat as a pin. Killing that back cast was the key that made it start working for me. The cast works either to the left or right without having to go to the off-shoulder.

I looked for video showing what I’m talking about and only found one by Pete Kutzer of Orvis that mentions this method. Pete shows three methods in the following video. The first two methods are actually aerial mends, but the last method is a true cast as the necessary rod movements are all done before loop formation. Watch and pay attention to Pete’s last method: What Pete does not appear to do and does not mention is the killing of the back cast, which is what made all the difference to me and was Jeff’s instruction.

So what is this new found skill good for? For example, yesterday I was at my neighborhood pond and there is a great big stump with weeds growing out of it and I have always wanted to get a cast behind it. I have attempted it with an over-powered curve cast but the problem is that if I don’t get the distance right I can “overpower” that cast right into that weedy stump, which is not good. With my new skill I just made a false cast by the stump, killed the back cast and started my forward cast 45 degrees away and then pointed back to the stump. The cast made a perfect 90 degree elbow, landing well behind the stump. I was delighted. And, since my cast was a low power cast, if my distance had been wrong I could have easily pulled back and re-cast without any danger of hanging up in the stump.

I didn’t catch a fish behind the stump, sorry to say, but I made cast after cast just enjoying the action of the rod and the line and my new found skill, casting to the “far side”.

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