Specialty Casts - Getting Your Fly to the Fish
Fly Fisher/Guide/Fly Tier/Instructor
Mac Brown, a Master Casting Instructor certified through the Federation of Fly Fishers, provides expert advice on how to use specialty casts to get your fly to those hard to reach fish.
Learn more about Mac Brown...
Successful fly fishing usually depends on excellent casting. So if you’re set on catching your favorite game fish, make sure to learn the best and most productive way of fly fishing– specialty casting.
Mac Brown is a Master Casting Instructor accredited through the Federation of Fly Fishers. He has fished around the globe many times in pursuit of sports fish. He has 40 years of knowledge and skill in this field, and with this many years of experience, he has been able to help thousands of beginners and advanced anglers become more proficient in the art of fly casting.
Mac is also an author and a TV personality. His handbook, Casting Angles, has been endorsed by the ACA and FFF as a text reference for instructors. His work has also appeared in Fly Rod and Reel, Fly Fisherman, Angling Report, ESPN, Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Fly Fishing America T.V., and many others. He specializes in casting instruction, schools, demos, lectures, destination trips, and clinics.
There are five essential rules to fly casting:
First of all, there must be a pause at the end of the stroke. This pause is going to vary with the duration with the amount of line beyond the road tip.
The second rule is to keep the slack line tip to a minimum. A fly line that has a slack will not load the rod accurately.
Third, the fly caster should move the rod tip in a straight line. This makes it possible to form the most efficient least air resistant loop in the direct energy of the fly cast toward a specific target. Simply put, to get from point A to point B, we need to draw a straight line to be most efficient.
The fourth rule is that the size of the casting arc must vary with the length of line past the rod tip. If you have a short cast, you should have a short arc; and if you have a long cast, you should have a longer arc. One important tip for this rule is that power must be applied in the proper amount of the proper place in the stroke.
Lastly, the fly rod should be properly accelerated so that the rod will load or bend against the resistance of the fly line.
According to Mac, one of the most common mistakes that new fly casters make involves straight line casts. This usually takes a little bit of playing around in able to perfect it. Most people would wonder how they will make it go forward. Usually these people are taught how a line straightens, fails to straighten. “The premise saying that the line either goes up and fails to straighten is actually a very valuable cast the more that their casting takes off on a string.” This teaches them that that they are in control. This method is one of the keys to learning how to throw curves right at the beginning.
Everybody has trouble with a certain style of casting, may it be on lazy negative strokes or what you use for curves on the water. Some have a very difficult time slowing things down and learn how to be “finesseful”. Mac finds teaching a positive tailing loop cast to other casters as the most difficult. The best advice that he can give to those who have some trouble in casting is to have a lot of practice and to go out and work on the ones that they have more trouble with.
One of the things that Mac uses a lot in teaching fishing casts is to learn to skew the line places. This involves making a forward cast, and a back cast that is exactly 180 degrees opposite. He advises his students to learn how to play around with skewing the back cast to 30 or 40 degrees. With this, they will get all kinds of different layouts in the forward direction.
There are two types of casts that are useful in reaching fish: the hook cast and the reach cast. The hook cast is Mac’s first choice. The line is turned left or right, for the layout.
The reason why the hook cast is superior to the reach cast is because you already have a 90-degree bend that is matching the way the water is flowing, which is very important since you’re going to buy yourself so much time for the fish to go ahead and take the fly to where it is not dragging across the surface.
The reach cast, on the other hand, is the lesser of the two. When you look at where the bend occurs to cause drag onto the fly, if you sat and measured both of those casts, you’re going to see the hook, probably goes four times further with no drag every time.
If you’re looking for a fly casting instructor, you can get them through referrals or by word-of mouth. You should be looking for someone who is a good teacher and who has good diagnostics. A lot of fishermen may be great casters, but not all are great teachers.
Listen to our full interview with Mac Brown to learn more tips and helpful advices on specialty casting and getting your fly to the fish faster.