Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #44 — From the Wrist to the Rod Tip

June 3, 2018

I’ve not taken a fly casting class. I’m not Federation of Fly Fishers certified, nor do I have any similar credentials. But I daresay I can put a fly just about where I want it, within a reasonable fishing range of, let’s say, fifty feet.

I can land a Parachute Ant in a small shady pocket, upstream of the overhanging limbs and downstream of the rock. And perhaps more challenging, I can usually land two nymphs in one current seam on a tight line, with the point fly directly upstream from the tag fly — and that’s with a moderate tuck cast providing just an instant of slack.

Is that bragging? I hope not. But lacking the aforementioned credentials, I figure I should at least state my competence for your judgement before offering any advice.

So with that preamble delivered, here’s tip #44 . . .

Good casting happens from the wrist to the rod tip

I said it to my nine year old son, Joey, this past weekend while learning to cast dry flies on a small tributary. “Keep the casting stroke tight and don’t think about casting the whole rod, buddy. Just cast the rod tip. It happens with your wrist. Cast from the writs to the rod tip.

I had delivered a similar message to my son five other ways, upon countless snags in the greedy tree branches. And while he’d tried to understand the concept (he truly soaks up and processes good advice), Joey just hadn’t gotten it yet. And at the conclusion of our first two hours I admired his determination to learn while I empathized with his frustration.

Then after a good bank sit and a shared sandwich, we were back at it. Joey and I poked through the narrow valley, climbing over instream, mossy rocks with one shared fly rod. We alternated good pockets; I accepted the more difficult casting challenges, and I handed the rod to Joey when the canopy of branches granted us extra space.

But even then, his errant casts found tree parts and streamside rocks too often. And somewhere in my ongoing dialogue for instruction, I said it:

“Cast from the writs to the rod tip.”

Joey paused and looked at me directly. I could see his mind soaking up the sentence and processing it into something real.

“That’s really good, Dad.”

Joey nodded and began casting. The change was instant and lasting. His casting motion suddenly shortened into what it had to be (under all those branches and obstacles) — a tight, compact and powerful stroke that pushed the line and trailing fly in narrow loops, precisely at the target. Suddenly, the small brook trout stream seemed more spacious. Joey later told me that the creek seemed bigger now.

So take this point for your own casting: the wrist controls the rod tip. And I’ll take it a step further, too — the arm controls the mid and butt sections. Think about that one.


Photo by Bill Dell


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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george gerner

hey loved your tip on wd 40 works well, problem something else in my box. Just kidding casting article good but brookie stream tough love dad. Hey If you get out towards home have you tried camp hill run, trib. to indian creek in Donegal area off of 381? check it out if u can sometime .


Great tip, nicely written. Keep ‘em coming!

Domenick Swentosky

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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