First of all, let us define a couple of terms;
Carry: The amount of line you can hold in the air. This is measured from your hauling hand to the tip of the fly line, and this doesn't include the leader.
Overhang: The running line between the rod tip and the back of the head, on a WF line this would be the end of the back taper.
This FP is more about practice drills that will vastly improve your fishing distance cast, rather than the technicalities of how it actually works (ok, maybe a little). The first item you will need, is a 50m/164’ surveyors tape measure to tell you how far you are really casting. You can’t guess the distances by deducting how much line you have left at your feet, as the line/leader never lands perfectly straight with zero slack (yes, even with a tail wind).
You will also need a different line. Get yourself a Thunderbolt #5 (57.5’ head) or a Ballistic Pro Performance #5 (58’ head), ideally two, as you can use one for fishing and one for grass practice. These are great overhead lines because you can carry variable amounts of line in the air for fishing distances, as they have nice gradual back tapers. Simply put, your short 30’ head isn’t going to cut it because to get to 100’, you need to be carrying 70’. How far you can cast is directly related to how much line you have out the tip ring on the final back cast, and the longer line gives the loop more time to unroll, which results in more distance. You would need 31’ of overhang for that to work with the short head (assuming 9' rod), but you then have a problem. The head almost always arrives in the loop with too much slack (tension loss), and the results are hit and miss. It's a catch-22 situation as you need the overhang to cast far, and is the reason why distance tapers have long heads, to maintain control. On the subject of tackle, your modern 9’ #5 will be more than capable of throwing to 100’, so don’t worry about that part.
With the new tape stretched out to 100’, you stand behind the true zero hook and all of a sudden you are quite taken aback with the distance, and the inner Arnie takes over saying “come aann, you can DO it!”. Logic dictates that you must put in as much effort/strength as possible to throw this thing. If the technique is correct, it actually takes surprisingly little effort. Think more ballet, less Arnie. Let’s say, for example, that one of your best casts goes 75’ but you are averaging 60’ with a #5 (which is ok) but you just can’t get any further no matter what you try. Well, read on, it’s all about technique.
Straighter tracking will give you a significant distance increase, if you were averaging 60’ before, you may be throwing 80’ now.
The first thing you will need to do is fix your tracking. Almost everyone has a tracking fault if they haven’t worked on it, so you need to stand in front of the mirror using a closed or open stance whilst holding your rod butt. You are looking to see if the tip of the butt section travels straight back and forth, if it doesn't, then you need to work on this. Play around with different grips, try the V grip if you are using thumb on top. One grip may automatically make your tracking a lot better than it was. Mimic a cast by imagining casting 60’ or so, and concentrate on increasing stroke length (distance your hand moves) and arc etc. For a 100’ cast, you only need your hand to go back just past your shoulder on the back cast. The key to any fault fixing is to start slowly and accurately on a problem area, and gradually build up speed using a variety of exercises (whilst maintaining the accuracy of your movements).
Only back and only forward casts no haul
This will really make all the difference, and will allow you to really shape the back and front loops. For distance casting we need to delay rotation until the end of the stroke, and get the line going in the intended direction before we apply the bulk of the force/power, which is through rotation. We do this by using drag, which basically means maintaining the rod angle for as long as possible, and then rotating at the end of the stroke. In other words, leading with the rod butt. This is drag:\\\\\\ and this is rotation:\|/. Drag straightens the tip path at the start of the stroke and gets the line moving in the direction of the cast, it also helps to remove slack. Let’s work on the delivery first. Set up your tape measure and stand half way down it. Lay out the line behind you so that the whole 58’ head is out the tip and on the ground. Raise the rod so that it is at an angle /, as if you had just made a normal back cast, and are ready to make the forward cast. Now, relax your grip (imagining you are holding a baby bird), keep your wrist slightly cocked, and think about throwing a paper plane VERY GENTLY at an upwards angle, aim and launch upwards, about 20 degrees above the horizontal. You need to think heavy, slow and strong at the start of the stroke, not fast. Imagine someone has tied a 50kg weight to your line. Keep the rod angle for as long as possible and then rotate right at the end of the stroke, by closing your wrist.\\\\\\|/. The closing of the wrist feels like you are knocking on a door. You can also say the word;
Which describes what the cast feels like, you can also think about ‘doinking’ the rod at the end of the stroke. The back cast is exactly the same, but in reverse. A good trick is to think about an 'up cast' rather than a 'back cast', and consequently this will help tighten your back loop.
If you start the haul at the same time you start the stroke, you risk peaking too early with your haul speed. Think about hauling through the stop. This is about refining the timing and speed of the hauls. To reduce friction and torque, twist the top 3 sections clockwise 45 or 90 degrees so that the rings stick out to the left if you are right-handed (yes, I even do this for fishing but I rotate about 45 degrees). We need to haul when the rod reaches the vertical on the back and forward cast. This needs to be done in slow motion in front of the mirror, and you need to haul to a completely straight arm with a real snap, stop hauling when you run out of arm. Remember, short cast short haul, long cast long haul I.E a full arm length. Pantomime the cast with the rod butt and haul when the rod gets to here | which is the vertical, think 'haul late'. Feed the line back up at the speed of the unrolling loop, the feedback is a bit like slow motion. If you do it too quickly you will get slack. For a real improvement in distance casting you need to think absolute bare minimum force with the rod hand, and lots of speed with the hauling hand, think about the haul doing all the work.
So, now we have everything going nice and straight, our force application and rotation is in the right place, and our haul is coming together nicely. We now need to learn to carry 70’ but it needs to be done gradually so we can maintain control. Mark your line at 50, 60 and 70’ with a permanent marker, say, a 2” line (measurement is from the tip of the fly line). Hold the 50’ mark and make a nice back cast with a very relaxed grip/hold and finish with a squeeze/wrist flick at the ‘stop’. Really think about a doinky crisp sharp stop, squeezing to a stop, or POPPING the loop off the tip.
Haul to a fully straight arm at the stop, and feedback after the loop forms, slowly. After the stop, IMMEDIATELY relax your grip again, think ‘relax-relax-relax-relax-squeezerelease’.
Do not think FAST with the rod hand, think FAST with the hauling hand, and only haul at the wrist flick. I'm trying to emphasise the late haul. It's possible to haul far too late, but most people start too early. Cast as if you have been pulled from a slow-motion action scene, think ballet, sway with the cast. Cast like you have an imaginary injury and constantly remind yourself to use less force, less force, less force with the rod hand. Being slow means that you will be more accurate with your movements (drag, late rotation, late haul, force application), coupled with a relaxed mindset, you will find that everything ‘locks’ together, and you’ll be more in sync with your casting. Remember that your rod hand should be relatively slow, which gives surprisingly fast tip speed, but your hauling hand should be lightning fast.
When the back cast has straightened, keep the wrist cocked, and make your forward cast towards the horizontal (with 50’ of line) whilst using drag to get the line going in the right direction, and close your wrist at the end, finishing with a doinky crisp sharp stop. You’ve been working hard on this in the previous exercise. Don’t try and smack it out there, just let the cast go. Think about throwing that paper plane VERY GENTLY. Once you’ve done this, gradually work your way up to the 70’ carry mark. You’ll need to increase stroke length as well as the arc etc, remember ‘short cast short stroke, long cast long stroke’. This goes back to the phrase working smarter and not harder, as work done = force x distance. You may find that Arnie says “come aann!” and persuades you to smack it as hard as possible with all your might. If you do, then it will fall apart. Remember that this is ballet. Go back to 50’ and remind yourself just how little effort you need, it really is a gliding graceful movement with the rod hand, the key is to increase your stroke length. On the delivery cast, whilst carrying 70', let your back cast drop SLIGHTLY below the horizontal and launch UPWARDS at an angle about 20 degrees above the horizontal, throw the plane upwards. The upwards trajectory on the launch will allow you to make your longest cast, conversely, the subsequent false casts are really on more of a level trajectory.
Once you have practiced this, a 100’ fishing cast becomes really easy. Additionally, if you would like help with your casting stroke, then please join and post on the board. You will get expert advice which will be tailored to your exact movements, which is really important for improvement.
Here is Paul’s video on the fishing distance;
And my 100’ cast
My 100' fish