One of the most common mistakes in fly-casting is allowing slack. Slack Kills! Ever try to shoot a bow and arrow with a slack bowline? It doesn’t work and your fly cast won’t either. You need to create good tension at all times during your fly cast. In order for the cast to be successful, we need a fly line to be airborne, passing back and forth in the air with good speed and momentum. The fly line pulls against the fly rod forcing it to bend and store energy and this energy is what helps us cast with less effort. With all this going on your cant afford to have slack. Look for slack to show in the following common locations during your cast.

  • During the initial pick up. When the caster starts their cast, the line must be picked up off the water. Try and be as smooth as you can and, if possible, start with a taught fly line. Use the water stick to provide some tension. Give the rod enough speed to ensure the line tightens up and follows your rod tip through the casting stroke.
  • When powering the cast with too little or too much power. If you use too little power, slack will form and your cast will be lazy without proper tension. If you’re too speedy with your power, the fly line will straighten in mid-air and rapidly rebound back, causing slack. Try to be super smooth and find just enough speed and power in order for the cast to be successful.
  • When judging timing. Fly-cast timing can be a very tricky thing to deal with when it comes to slack. If your timing is too fast and you are not allowing the fly line to stretch right out in front or behind the rod after the casting stroke then you will be casting against a slack line; you’ll lose all momentum and usually hear a loud snap as you lose your fly. If you wait for too long the fly line drops out of the sky, hits the water and causes slack. This is the pause in fly-casting and it takes practice. One trick I use is to remember, “Short line, short pause; long line, long pause.”
  • On the final delivery cast: the presentation. It is this point when you allow your last false cast to fly out in front of you and land straight on the water. I always advise to land your line, watch as the cast stretches out and then follow it down with your rod tip until you are touching water. If you hold your rod high, the line will straighten and rebound back towards you and land with slack coils. Follow it down and land your line straight by eliminating the slack.

Use this as a start to help you with your casting and check back for more casting blog posts.

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