Though it would be easy to fall into the idea that casting further is a derivative of greater effort, this is often the exact thinking that hangs anglers up and continues the struggle around adding more distance to their casts.
Adding distance in fly casting is a direct result of three basic things. Once this is understood, and these critical things are practiced, you will find casting becomes exponentially less frustrating. The three steps are as follows:
Place more effort on timing than anything else
Timing in fly casting is the difference between casts that lay out straight in front of you, and those that pile up at your feet. A great place to start is to use a metronome (search Youtube, or even the app store on mobile devices). What this does is forces you to form a rhythm in your casting stroke, and removes the urge to jump the gun on the forward cast (a great way to form tailing loops)
Utilize the head of the fly line to your maximum potential
Modern day fly lines are often constructed with a running line, rear taper, belly, front taper and tip section. Weight forward (WF) fly line design has made casting astronomically easier, especially with today's focus on ultra-fast action fly rods. Let's say your 6 weight requires 210 grains to load properly, and there are 210 grains in the 'head' of your fly line (for example, we will say it is the front 35 feet of the line), this means that you will actually be putting yourself at a disadvantage by casting a short line.
A common mistake (and one that is easy to fix), is starting with too little fly line out the end of the rod tip. This results in short casts that pile up at your feet, as the rod never truly gets a chance to load. The opposite end of the spectrum would be carrying too much fly line in the air, resulting in feeling a hinge on the back and forward casts.
Creating a pronounced STOP
This is undoubtedly one of the quickest ways to fix a casting stroke that produces little to no speed or energy. Beginning the forward cast before the backcast has completed in the air is the fastest way to kill your momentum and the amount of energy being transferred in your casting stroke. A great drill is to watch your fly line in the air, ensure that the line straightens completely before beginning the forward cast.
A pronounced stop in your casting stroke, though it will at first feel like a short stroke will result in less distance, is actually doing you a favour on many fronts. Tight, compact casting strokes with properly implemented stops on the back and forward cast produce both exceptional line speed and tight, compressed loops.
Listen to today's episode of the Fly Fish University Podcast for more discussion on adding casting distance below: