Been meaning to write this for awhile, because well, it’s important. The concept of “power” is a crucial piece of the cast, and we all use too much of it, beginners and experienced casters alike. Especially beginners.
The casting stroke is a fairly simple act - a gradual, smooth acceleration (i.e. the application of power) of the rod ending in an abrupt stop. It’s this idea of “smooth” that is most difficult to understand and apply to the casting stroke. Most new casters use waaaay to much power, trying to force the rod to cast the line. The cast of a beginner is typically an all-out, go-for-broke acceleration of the rod. The rod moves back and forth like a windshield wiper with all of the force and speed that the caster can muster. We’ve all been there. It doesn’t work.
So then, how do we develop the ability to apply power smoothly and evenly to produce that nice, gradual acceleration of the rod? How can we learn to dial in the exact amount of power to put into every casting stroke without overpowering?
As luck would have it, I have a great casting exercise to develop this sense of “smooth”. Actually, it’s not my casting drill. Paul Arden wrote about it on his Sexy Loops site. It’s a good one though, so hopefully he won’t mind us ripping it off and using it here.
I use it all the time with new students. Almost without exception, it’s a revelation for the student. Usually I hear comments like “Whoa” or “That’s unbelievable” or “Holy crap”, etc. You get the idea.
And it’s simple as well. Simply move the rod tip easily and gently in a short arc, say between 11 and 1 o’clock. So gently in fact that no loops form. The line just kind of waves back and forth as it dangles from the rod tip. Then begin adding power in small increments until loops begin to form and you are finally making full casts. The idea is to reach the full formation of loops with the smallest application of power possible. In fact, the caster should focus on making the stops crisper rather than adding power during this drill. By making the stops gradually more abrupt, small amounts of power will automatically be added to the cast as well. Eventually the loops start jumping out there to the target. Here’s video of me going through the exercise(sound effects courtesy of my wife and my two-year old):
Done correctly, these casts will be noiseless. If you hear the “swish” of the rod moving through the air, then you still need to back off on the power.
Interestingly, I find that this drill often helps resolve other casting faults as well. By having the student move the rod between 11 and 1, he/she begins to get the feel for using a shorter casting stroke as opposed the "windshield wiper" stroke. I also find that the students get a better sense of “stopping” the rod with this drill.
It’s a fantastic tool for improving the cast, whether your own or that of a student. Give it a try.