Common casting errors

Three common errors, their reasons, and the ways to get rid of them

By Sven Ostermann Animations by the author

FFF Casting Certification Program
The logo shown to the right is the sign of the recently introduced "Federation of Flyfishers Casting Certification Program". Some casting personalities of Europe created a test-program for Flycasting Instructors to provide a high standard in instruction. Coordinator is Günter Feuerstein, Switzerland. We have to thank him and all the board members for their outstanding work so far.

The aim of the program is to build up a network of good casting instructors all over Europe, so that the fishing clubs and interested people easily can book an experienced instructor with good teaching abilities.

In the following little animations I will show you the most common casting errors. I observe these errors very often, but with a little practice it is very simple to correct the causes for these errors. If you know the reason for such an error it is easy to kill the cause through excercises, believe me.

Following the backcast with the eyes.

Foto: Anreas Preuss

By the way, doing exercises is one of the real secrets behind becoming an advanced or expert caster. Personally I try to do casting exercises every day or at least as often as possible.
Don't be too shy to stand on a lawn or at the bank of a canal or pond and throw a line for the sake of practice. Better here than by the fishing water. While fishing is not the right time to practice - you'd rather be catching fish, wouldn't you?
But now let us talk about the errors. I hope the following animations will reveal the reasons for these errors.

Have fun and take care!

Open or non-loops
  casting direction

open arc
loose wrist
firm wrist

This error is caused by a circle like motion of the rod tip. The rod tip follows a convex path - low in the ends, high in the middle.

First, try to cast in a narrower arc. In other words: the angle between back and forward cast must not be too wide.

Second, you must cast with a firm wrist. A moveable wrist is a bad thing - especially for a beginner - because you get an uncontrollable loose connection to the rod.

So, lock your wrist and you will get a narrow loop.

Tailing loops
  casting direction

forced cast
reduce power

In this case the rod tip follows a concave path during the stroke. The rod tip undercuts the plane in which it ought to move. The line will follow the rod tip, therefore the line follows the upward drive of the rod tip. As a result a tailing loop is formed and the fly will probably hang up on the line/leader or socalled 'wind knots' will appear on the leader.

Too much power in the strokes combined with a too small casting arc are the reasons for that.

To avoid this, you must open the casting arc and reduce the power at the strokes. The rod tip must follow a straight path.

Wrong timing
  casting direction

no pause in cast
wait for the line

Timing means to give the line enough time to roll out and straighten. If you cast forward or backward to early, the line will collapse, caused by the lack of speed. Only a straightened line can be accelerated in the right manner.

If you wait too long, the line begins to fall down and the energy stored in the bent rod will vanish, because the rod will straighten. You get no speed to the line, and line speed is essential in fly casting. The storing of energy in the rod is often refered to as 'loading the rod'.

To avoid this, let the line unroll both in the forward and backward casting motion. Follow the line with your eyes to see when you can change direction. Later you can try to feel the rod loading by closing your eyes - or practicing in the dark.

This article is an excerpt from Sven Ostermann's German homepage

User comments
Submitted March 13th 2013


From: Capt. Ken Roy · captken·at·  Link
Submitted February 4th 2009

Thank you for these great suggestions. I plan to build my first home made shooting head tomorrow.
Do you have any suggestions for fly casting from a kayak?

If you ever plan a holiday in Florida, contact me. I'll take you fishing.

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