One Foot at a Time – Smooth controlled tight loop false casts
This is a rod loading and loop control exercise with focus on smooth progressive acceleration of the rod tip in a straight line path with a positive stop.
Cast side on to the wind with the rod tilted down at 45 degrees or so. Keep the rod tip just above eye level. Keep your hand in close to your body and grip the corks very lightly. Lock the line under your index finger and cast with the line hand in your pocket.
Start false casting with just a rod length of line out the tip. Move the rod tip smoothly between a focus point in the distance on the front cast then back to a focus point in the distance on the back cast.
Concentrate on doing this in a straight line tip path and at the correct speed or tempo. Learn to squeeze the shot off or ‘pop to a stop’
Lengthen the line a foot and repeat. Continue on until you have three or four rod lengths of line out.
Using the longer line you must focus on moving the line back and forward without bending the rod. You must use smooth speed of the rod tip to pull the line back and forward. Naturally the rod will bend but the feeling MUST be that the weight of the line in the air sets the depth of bend into the rod rather than your brain telling your hand how hard to bash the bend into the rod.
Exercise 1a– Changing Gears. Mess with the tempo.
Start the foot at a time drill again. This time cast each length of line with various tempos. First, start off as slow motion as you can get away with. Next move up a gear to a medium speed. Then another gear to a fast tempo. Finally move the rod as fast as you can maintaining good loops. Don’t tail them or make them jerky. Notice how you need to increase the arc as speed increases!
Exercise 1b – False casting tight loops with differing trajectories.
Vary the trajectories at differing line lengths while maintaining a tight smooth loop.
Continue as above but do some casts with a horizontal rod tip travel. Then repeat with a lower forward stop and a higher back stop. This sort of angle that results in high back casts is most commonly used when trout fishing short to medium distances. Obviously necessary when trees or bushes are behind. Finally do some with high front casts and low back casts. This high front trajectory is only ever used when casting to fish that live up a waterfall! I want you to be able to do it anyway.
Exercise 1c – Joan Wulff’s ‘Picking Leaves’
Focus on just one leaf. Try to hit it with your orange yarn at the very end or limit of your forward cast. False cast maintaining a tight loop. The stop is as critical as the alignment of the straight line path of the rod tip and the requirement of a narrow loop. Try different heights and casting planes. When you think you are clever turn around and pick leaves on the back cast too.
Exercise 1d – Tom White’s ‘Turn it upside down’
Spend a little time false casting with the rod upside down. Yes, turn it all over and lock the reel in under your forearm. This exercise forces you to move your upper arm. It forces you to lift your elbow into the back cast. It forces a more laid back or cocked rod angle for the forward cast. It forces the pulling action and gives more positive stops than most people are used to. You will really learn the feeling of the rod unloading after the stop. You will learn not to grip the corks tightly. This exercise effectively removes wrist movement. (very differently to the horrendous method when someone sticks the butt down your sleeve or ties the rod butt to your forearm)!
Do these exercises as often as you can. In the end you will realise just how easy it is to throw smooth narrow loops. The rod loading will be silky smooth and there will be no inclination to tail the loops – even at higher line speed.
Perhaps for the first time in your life you will feel the rod make the cast rather than you.
Try casting these exercises occasionally with a blindfold that you can be cheaply from a chemist.