Accelerating the rod to a complete stop at the end of the back and forward strokes is arguably the most important part of forming a loop and making a cast; but all stops are not equal. A “hard” stop makes the rod recoil and forms shock waves in the line. In contrast, a “soft” stop produces a smooth line that results in a more efficient cast. Failure to execute a complete stop will result in poor loop formation and, in some instances, no loop at all.
As an analogy, I like to compare stopping a rod to applying the brakes in an automobile as it approaches a stop sign. If a driver keeps hard pressure on the brake pedal as a car comes to a halt, it will lurch forward and then backward in a hard stop. On the other hand, the stop will be a smooth and soft one if the driver simultaneously eases pressure on the brakes just as the car comes to rest. And if the driver fails to stop……….well, you know.
Similarly, maintaining a tight white-knuckle grip on a fly rod throughout the casting stroke will create shock waves in the line as the tip recoils back and forth after the stop. Significantly relaxing hand tension on the rod at the completion of each stroke will eliminate the problem and result in the kind of soft stop that will form a smooth and ripple-free line. However, make no mistake………a soft stop is still a complete one.
Steadily increasing the speed of the stroke during the acceleration phase (as described in the previous Performance Fly Casting article) and combining it with a soft yet complete stop will go a long way in making your cast more proficient and you’ll exert less effort in the process.
For additional clarity, please check out the attached video.
Look for the upcoming Performance Fly Casting article on loop formation.