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Making a handshake grip, slide hand in at approx 45 degrees before wrapping fingers around the cork handle and placing the thumb on top of it, the forefinger wil naturally be extended slightly from the other fingers.

Forearm determines the plane. The wrist and forearm are moved in the chosen plane. The very controlled wrist movement flexes in the same direction as the thin part of the forearm has previously moved - similar as to how one would use a hammer.

Therefore to cast from side to side (left to right instead of back and forth) the forearm will be turned to allow this to occur with the thin part of the forearm determining plane, not the wide part.

the forearm turns to determine side casting plane as the reel position shows

Tip casting exercises.
The most used fly rod

Single handed rods are the most extensively used fly rods, they are used for every type of fly fishing imaginable.

Normally, but not always, its the type of fly rod everyone starts with. They are a very versatile and wonderful tool. Like any tool though, perhaps most especially fly rods of any type, they can so easily be misused.

Fortunately all fly rods basically work in the same way whether single, double or switch rods. Once that principle, and a rods properties or nature is understood, then how to lever and use them properly becomes very clear.

Things will be done slightly differently with the body to manipulate a double handed rod in exactly the same way we use a single handed rod, to ensure the same use of the rods inherent properties.

There is great satisfaction from achieving efficient control with a single handed rod. The value for general fishing is inestimable, however without understanding their nature and how they should actually be used, fly rods and fly fishing can be a source of frustration to people.

Fundamentals - building on a solid foundation

I teach a certain style of single hand fly casting which is entirely orientated around real life practical fishing requirements and precise line control. It originated with Peter Anderson. It has certain ways of doing things, certain exercises, certain terms and a certain ethos such as attention to line height management behind, working along an incline and the use of continuous movement. It represents long term learning. There are other ways, people do other things and do them well.

I use and teach this style and after this style is learned I will also use the very similar Lefty Kreh casting style, much used by saltwater anglers.

Making a start

Forearms determine the plane, and the 'key' tip casting exercise.

Single hand rod fly casting starts with really understanding the properties of the rod and in particular how the flex of the rod unloading will generate rod tip turnover speed. The only thing a rod does
by itself is to unload and straighten after it has been deflected into a curve once it gets the opportunity to do so.

As a rod unloads, due to its taper, it does not just straighten and stop but it will counter flex and create a rapid rod tip turnover speed as the tip flips over, before it finally returns then to a straight position.

We must first understand how the proper sequence of making a position change from arm movement first, followed by a very controlled small angle change from a wrist movement to finish with, all made as an acceleration to a stop, is important in properly using the inherent properties of the rod, and in generating and directing the line momentum correctly, creating the correct loop shape.

It is necessary to understand the concept of a very controlled and minimal wrist movement that does not pull the line out of a 180 degree line plane, back cast opposite forward cast, to and away from the target. The controlled wrist movement accelerated the line greatly due to the counterflex it creates, the counterflex is directed due to the small wrist movement. It must be made after some arm movement for pre load otherwise it will simply shock the rod. the progressive nature of rod loading must be acknowledged.

We start by learning the key exercise of rod tip casting a short line from side to side using a short stroke. A short stroke can be used if the counter flex of the rod is used correctly. Use 15ft of fly line (excluding the leader) outside the rod tip to start with, also have an eight or nine foot tapered leader attached with wool or yarn cut to the size of a pea to represent a fly. When you get the motion, use 18 to 20 ft of fly line (excluding the leader). No need to use any more for this particular exercise at this stage.

The initial position change will be made with arm movement, and then a controlled angle change to the stop will be made with a small wrist movement (micro wrist). We cast side to side for the purpose of observing and correcting the back cast loop formation. We would not be able to see this easily in the normal back and forth casting plane. There should be narrow loops formed each side with a short stroke used to form them. The loop should be formed due to the rod tip being lively and kicking the line away in plane from its own recoil and counter flex. There will be a slight pause necessary between each stroke to allow the line to unroll but the next stroke will be made just previous to the line unrolling fully.

As in both single and double handed casting, the forearms determine the plane, to cast side to side after making the handshake grip we will rotate the forearm to a suitable position to allow us to do that.

Its easy to say to do this exercise but as its the building block and represents the main power application in a cast it must be done absolutely correctly no matter how long that takes. There are so many ways to go wrong but only one right way to do this exercise.

The wrist will always flex in line with the narrow part of the forearm and not the wide part when we are casting normally, similar to how we use a hammer, so most people practice this exercise by turning the forearm to keep the wrist in the similar plane though casting side to side. However as the main aim is to separate arm only movement merging seamlessly into a controlled wrist and arm together to a stop it can be done with wrist orientation optional at the start. As long as good loops are formed from rod tip counterflex, stopping and pausing occur, no creep, no line rolling upwards, no tailing loops, then all will be well.

The wrist movement will end at the stop. As the arm is slower than the wrist and the wrist is faster than the arm, the overall movement will naturally be in keeping with an acceleration. On this short practice line the rod tip will move a lot more and faster with the wrist movement than with the arm movement.

After this essential tip casting technique is understood and fine tuned, we then will change the exact same movement into the normal back and forward plane by changing the forearm to the normal casting plane, we will use this same movement along a small
straight line incline to aerialise the line back and forth. Now, even though we can't see the back cast, we know from practice and feel that it will be correct. We can still, and often do, check things by dong some practice by turning the feet 45 degree from the casting plane we are using and look back by turning the head. We can see the front loop and feel the tension from the back cast.

To recap the tip casting exercise is executed using some initial arm movement prior to very controlled (minimal) wrist movement. The end of the wrist movement coinciding with the stop. An immediate relaxing of the grip will occur with perhaps a very slight drift of a couple of inches as the line unrolls during the slight pause time between casting strokes. There is a small pause at the end of each stroke after the stop. The rod tip is moved side to side parallel with the ground and does not dive down in front. The arc (angle change) used will be very narrow as the tip action and speed will be the main cause of driving the line rather than a long stroke.

The leverage applied to the rod by the crisp controlled wrist movement is fine tuned by feel to ensure tip action and rod tip turnover speed from the rod’s own recoil action flipping the tip as it straightens. Its designed to help the flip over the tip of the rod at speed and not to simply push the whole rod through an angle without causing a greater reaction at the tip. Its as if the bottom and middle part of the rod is a lever allowing you to flip the tip.

Once the correct sequence is used of arm then wrist, and once the wrist movement is fine tuned to flip over the tip then a narrow arc is all that is required to unroll this short practice line. It is a very necessary step in understanding and a foundational level prior to learning the actual basic casting stroke. The ability to correctly execute this technique means it will be incorporated into the basic cast, and almost all casting thereafter.

The key here is changing the position of the rod with arm movement initially to create some pre load and have everything taut, generate a little momentum, then to use a very controlled angle change with the wrist to cause the recoil action of the rod blank straightening to flip the tip over very sweetly. It takes fine tuning and practice to get it just right, the right overall power and tempo, the right crispness of wrist movement. One can be too harsh, not have the right blend, use the wrist too early on the forward cast, not use it at all on the back cast e.t.c. It is a feeling and when learned the whole movement is done very smoothly and efficiently and the rod tip turnover speed and the rods own properties are working for us with minimal effort on our part.

2. The Basic Casting Stroke
Mastering the basic or fundamental casting stroke is the next essential step. The basic casting stroke is the foundation or building block of single-handed fly-casting. It should become an entirely automatic process, an established muscle memory in the style that you wish to use before further progress is attempted. Its purpose is to ensure absolutely technically correct technique even though using a short line. It is sometimes referred to as the basic pick up and lay down cast as the line is not aerialised as in the tip casting exercise, but picked up off the water (or grass when learning) and set down again.

Through mastering a basic casting stroke the angler learns among other things -

Not to reach. The tip casting exercise will have taught us how the rod’s own unloading action and rod tip turnover speed will project the line from the correct application of leverage alone and without any reaching. We keep ergonomically correct and within our comfort zone.

That fly-casting is not forceful or erratic. How a very steady and smooth overall acceleration is executed, and control over the amount of power applied used.

How all the arm pivots are used to bring the rod along a straight line incline to the right elevation during the power application. Elevation is a critical step to avoid wrist casting only or wrist and forearm casting only.

How excessive wrist break is avoided and the correct trajectory backward and forward is used for the length of line out by tracking along a straight line incline during the power application phase.

How a true acceleration ensures there is fly turnover in front and behind with narrow parallel loops or V loops and no tailing loops. How the correct amount of power prevents shocking the rod, tangles, collapsing loops.

How continuous motion casting via drift is used for line height management behind and correct timing.

Keeping in plane ensuring correct rod tracking occurs.

For the basic casting stroke approximately ten yards of line will be placed outside the rod tip and we learn how to execute a technically correct cast with this length of line. This is an essential basic step otherwise future progress or potential may be hindered.

Single-handed fly-casting is about putting a few essential component parts of the cast together and blending them seamlessly into smooth, fluid motion to make the basic overhead cast.

3. Aerialising a slightly longer line
After the basic pick up and lay down casting stroke is mastered, we will progress to aerialising a slightly longer line backwards and forwards using rod action only, and without using the line hand for any hauling. We are still using the rods own action but with a longer length of line.

We will use a more open stance and turn our feet to approx 45 degrees to the direction of the cast. The correct longer stroke length will become important as will timing. Over longer lengths of line there will be a longer stroke, more arm movement to generate line momentum before the still very controlled wrist movement, slight upper body rotation and weight shift, more of a pre load loading move (or lead) as the rod deflects into a deeper curve and takes longer to do so, and continuous motion drift for line height management behind.

When aerialising a slightly longer length of line with correct loop formation is an automatic, relaxed and controlled exercise, then we can introduce hauling with the line hand. One we can form a tight loop with a longer length of line, we can even then learn ourselves how to double haul placing the line on the ground and stopping between each stroke.

4. Double hauling

A haul is a pull on the fly line hanging below the bottom ring of the rod made with with the line hand (the hand not flexing the rod). It is made as a fairly fast but smooth acceleration and not an erratic movement or sudden tug. It is made so that most of the haul will occur over the last half of the stroke and coincide with the main angle change of the rod through the controlled wrist movement of the rod hand to the stop. There is then an immediate (but not relaxed and not rushed) return of the line hand steadily back upwards towards the rod hand after the haul. Not so fast as to introduce slack into the unrolling line, but so that tension in the system is maintained.

A double haul is where two separate hauls are made with the line hand to increase line speed during the cast, one haul is made on the back casting stroke and one haul on the forward casting stroke.

The hands start off close together, with the thumb of the line hand at about the little finger area of the rod hand. in order to make two hauls, after the first haul the hauling hand has to be returned back up towards the rod hand and the fly line fed back smoothly into the rod rings while under tension from the loop forming or unrolling out behind. The line hand is brought up slowly with line tension maintained so that slack line does not occur. A second haul can then be made on the forward casting stroke. The fastest part of both hauls should coincide with the fastest rod tip turnover speed from the rod hand angle change, the haul's fastest speed is usually made at the last part of the casting stroke to the stop. Hauling is practiced with an open stance. Haul length is kept short and is usually 1.5 to 2 feet in length.
Double hauling allows a shorter stroke to be made with a longer length of line than would be used without hauling.

It is important that the first haul moves outwards a little so that it does not tangle the line or clash with the reel which moves out a little on the rod hand angle change, and on the forward cast the haul can be made more downwards as the reel is pulled back out of the way.

Perhaps the best way to learn double hauling is to learn on some well-mown grass using a side casting stroke (left to right again). You can learn at your own pace building up familiarity with the motion a step at a time, stopping on each single stroke without making a full casting cycle initially.

Initially use only one casting stroke at a time and stop at the end of each back casting stroke and at the end of each forward casting stroke. Do this until the line feed motion after the haul is automatic and your hands are back close together each time. Remember to keep the rod in plane by turing your forearm to practice this learning exercise.

On grass if the line feed is forgot to be made it only takes a couple of side steps to bring the hands back together and drag the line taut again. Don’t worry; no safety net is required to learn double hauling on grass. You will then, in your own time, eventually do the line feed move on each cast without forgetting.

Then you will gain enough confidence to string two casting strokes together to make one casting cycle without any stop, a back casting stroke, a slight pause and then a forward casting stroke. Once you can keep a couple of casting strokes going without stopping on each stroke to let the line fall on the grass you have a casting cycle. Then you will be able as the next step to put together a couple of casting cycles, then to keep going with a few, you will then have the capability to make a continuous aerialising of the line while double hauling.

It is then a simple matter as you keep hauling and side casting to raise up the rod to a more vertical plane as you are hauling, and change your stance to an open stance and face the direction of the forward cast.

Is that double hauling finished then? No, the arms alone will only take a person so far in casting distance using the double haul. Perfectly fine for most fishing situations. However to go for greater distances again then it will be necessary to use simultaneous body movement from weight shift and weight transfer with a longer casting stroke.
Controlling the line height behind. One of the most significant and important aspects of Fulcrum Style.

An aspect of technique that really matters when wading in a salmon river or dry fly fishing at distance from a boat on the Lough. It also matters in general to completely cut out the nuisance value involved when catching on grass, scrub, bushes, fences, rocks or riverbank behind. Sometimes this will cause the hook to break, or close the gape of the hook. Several times I have seen people miss a salmon that took their fly over such occurances.
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Different rod positions in relation to forearm, same technique used.

Wrist cocked forward for arm support (left pic) normally used for longer rods, heavier gear, though it can be used all the time, the rod effectively becomes an extension of the forearm and the wrist then does not have to support all the resistance of lifting the line off the water. Normally with lighter gear the rod butt starts out from forearm, a small gap exists, shown here where approximately two fingers are able to be placed between cork and forearm. The basic tip casting exercise should be practiced both ways.