Feeling the Cast

          New to Advanced Casters
Excerpts from a Lesson for Casting Instructors
By Jim Valle
Federation of Fly Fishers
As an instructor my very first goal is to find one little success, that first little smile of confidence, as simply and quickly as possible. Finding the approach that produced this little success wasn’t easy. It required simplicity and that meant understanding. I really had to work at separating the Instructor’s Perspective from the Student’s Perspective. I searched my experience and library, experimented with my students and tried different approaches during my own practice sessions. I finally put all the pieces together and developed a method that has proven to be so successful with every beginning student that I have now added it into every lesson I teach whether it be intermediate or advanced, kids or adults, it works so well I just can’t leave it out. It really has to do with developing a feeling or sense of the entire Casting System! Here’s how. Give it a try you’ll find a new sense of feeling in your cast…!

“You have seen gymnastic demonstrations with wands and ribbons, right?
Ok, I am going to ask you to swing the entire rod and line around yourself, in an easy constant circular motion, first this way and then reverse to the other direction without stopping. Above your head and then continue with the rod tip about a foot or so above the ground and make sure to keep it all the way down low behind you.”

Now for the “Ready Position.”
The “Ready Position” is the backcast stop position, the thumb straight up  and around the general area of the ear. (Note: The direction of the final circular swing to the ready position must be appropriate for a right or left handed caster to make a backcast.)
‘Ok, give it a try. Just wave it around slowly in any direction or shape you feel like making, be creative and have some fun, you will understand in a few minutes”
The rod is set up with 2x the rod length of line outside the tip.
Slow Down …As slow as you can
Ok now change direction.
Keep the tip low in the back
Repeat as necessary until you feel relaxed and are comfortably controlling the line. We are looking for slow constant and effortless movement, just enough to keep the line moving, no more! Once we have the power under control then we move on to feeling the rod load.
“Can you feel the line?
“Do you see the tip of the rod is bending?
Interestingly and almost invariably the response will be delayed… Casters just don’t pay much attention to the rod … once focused it’s always a sudden awareness response “Now, I do!” or “Oh Yea!  
The real crux of the lesson is right here. What all of this accomplishes is:
A Massive and Immediate dose of Muscle Memoryfor this line length and equipment configuration and a totally relaxed casting arm that utilizes all the available muscles quite efficiently.
“Ok, on the next circle I want you to Stop at the Ready Position, wait a bit and then move the rod Forward and Stop.”  
1.      The student’s Sense of Timing is already developed. They intuitively know how long it takes for this much line to roll out having seen the end pass by so many times.
2.      Additionally, they tend to move the rod forward slower with more of a pull than a push without the tendency to over rotate. This also develops the proper translation (loading move) and late rotation (power snap/tip speed) so necessary for a successful cast.
When they make this first cast… and it will look like a cast, that little smile comes!
        The instructor smiles, from here on… all casts are possible!
You won’t believe it till you… Try it!
Find a youngster or adult who isn’t interested in fly fishing (If there is such a person) and try this. You will be absolutely Amazed!!
Beyond the beginner there are experienced students who don’t sense the cast. The smoothness just isn’t there. The cast is rigid and unimaginative, without “Freedom”. They are missing the best part of casting a line. I have found places in all my lessons to include this exercise to set their casting free.
For everyone kids to adults, inexperienced to advanced or just as a warm up. When you think about it whenever we pick up any sporting gear, a bat, tennis racquet, golf club whatever, the first thing we do is give it a swing. Why? It’s intuitive, our muscles insist on sensing the weight, resistance etc. ….  The Feel!
For those casters that tend to raise and tense their arms it is amazing what a little flexibility will do to improve their very next cast. Those who are wristing discover the rest of their arms and bodies. Those fast casters easily learn to slow down and use less energy.
The bottom line, for all good casting, is developing a “sense or feel” for the cast… an awareness. This is teaching from the Feeling… Short, Sweet and Very Powerful!
There is a lot more to this but only an instructor would be interested, however I present it as an exercise for all casters and to demonstrate the dynamic power of a well planned and professional casting lesson.
Simplicity is Sophistication!
Don’t practice wrong. Find a Certified Instructor!