Fly casting instruction - single handed casting grip and stance

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Single handed fly rod basics of good casting

Fly casting – single handed fly rod grip and stance.

orthodox casting stance
Orthodox stance, arn shoulder and leg aligned
open casting stance
Open stance. Right foot forward for left handed casting and vice versa.
normal way to hold a fly rod
Normal way to hold a fly rod
thumb on top of rod handle
Thumb on top of fly rod
accentuated thumb on top of rod
Accentuated thumb on top of rod
forefinger on top of rod
Forefinger on top - three point grip

Fly casting tuition starts with the basics of good casting and learning to grip or hold a fly rod correctly and how to adopt the correct stance to maintain comfort and balance are fundamental. The orthodox fly casting stance is to put your foot below the casting arm shoulder and slightly in front of the other foot. Casting with the right hand therefore the right foot is slightly forward. If the cast is being made backhanded i.e. using the right hand to cast over the left shoulder, the left shoulder and foot should be forward. Feet should be slightly apart giving a comfortable well balanced and stable stance, allowing the angler to transfer body weight between the feet during the cast. The ideal world is of course compromised in many fishing situations.

The open stance places the feet in the opposite relationship to the orthodox stance and is used mainly for distance casting, to allow the caster to turn the head to watch the back cast without moving or turning the shoulder.

I am using the word grip here because it is the common term used for holding a fly rod. Grip implies a tight hold and if you hold your rod tightly you will never make smooth casts, put quite simply your body will not allow you to hold something tight and make smooth movements. You will also suffer from muscle fatigue in your arms and subsequent pain. The normally recommended hold is with the thumb on top and slightly to the left of centre so that the 'V' between the thumb and the index finger is in line with the top of the rod. Your grip must feel comfortable and the diameter of the rod handle must be suitable for the size of your hand. (It is common to find rods with cork grips that are too large in diameter, especially for ladies. I like to have the handle thin enough to allow my hand to encircle it without having to hold hard.) Alternatively the thumb may be placed directly on top of the rod and this is useful if additional downward pressure is needed to drive the line forwards especially for roll casting etc. Some fly casters, notably my friend Paul Arden uses the accentuated thumb on top grip and really presses forward when stopping the rod on the back cast or constructing the forward cast. I find this technique effective but uncomfortable. Another specialist grip is with the index finger on top of the rod or slight curled round to the right (right handed caster). This is sometimes used for short distance accuracy but it is not a grip that I personally feel comfortable with. Jason Borger however recommends this three finger type of grip.

It is essential to hold a rod firmly enough to ensure that it is under good control but it is a mistake to grip it too hard. By adjusting the strength of the hold during the cast it is possible to minimise unwanted vibrations at the extremities of movement, i.e. after the rod it stopped it is best to slacken the hold. With practice it is possible to learn to increase tightness as the stop is being applied and to relax between times to get a better 'feel' for what is going on. If the grip is too tight the nerves in the hand are compressed and sensitivity is lost so, for example, you won't feel the line straightening in the air behind and so won't know when to commence the forward cast. Good casters “feel” their way through each cast and control the line very smoothly. Casting is a tactile and timing skill and that is perhaps why ladies are very good at making tidy casts.

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.