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

by | Jun 3, 2018 | 7 comments

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 wrist 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 in-stream, mossy rocks with one shared fly rod. We alternated good pockets. I accepted the more difficult casting challenges and then 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 wrist 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

Fish hard, friends.

 

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

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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7 Comments

  1. 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 .

    Reply
  2. Great tip, nicely written. Keep ‘em coming!

    Reply
  3. I just got back from working on my cast. Now I feel the need to go back for another hour, and try this. Thank you for all you do. These articles really help. My friends and family think I’m crazy obsessed. Helps to know I’m not alone. I’m just troutbitten.

    Reply
  4. Hi Dom,
    Hey now!! I think being surrounded by full length mirrors on the water would help a great deal. LOL. Your advice is most welcomed and taken deeply to heart. Such an easy way to improve both accuracy and distance. Wow… Thank you. Now for a question…. When using a Harvey, or one of your preferred Harvey style leaders, does it matter to a large degree what weight rod I might be using at the time? I mean, the relationship of the leader’s butt section to the weight of the rod seems to be of some consequence. so, do I need to adjust my leader type when using a 4, 5 or 6 weight rod? thanks. And my hat goes off to you and your Troutbitten team. At 71 years of age, I wish you and your team were around (and educating anglers) 20 years ago…. Fish Hard!

    Reply

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

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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