to Belgium, land of big fly casting!.
Now before someone says "why Belgium" don't blame
me! It just is. Not only that there are some folks out there that claim that the
Belgium cast came from Austria.
Hans Gebetsroither could possibly be one of them.
So what is this marvellous cast all about? Well
if you clicked the link above you'll know that it is an elliptical casting movement.
Instead of casting over the top of the rod on both the back and forward cast,
we cast in an oval.
This cast is known as a constant tension cast because,
surprise surprise, the line is in constant tension. This is very handy for the
salt water fly fisherman for two reasons. The primary reason is Kick. When
we get to the end of the stroke and the loop flies off into the distance there
will come a time when the line straightens ready for the cast in the other direction.
No matter if we cast a narrow or a wide loop a big fly is going to kick over at
the end and not be in line with the fly line. It will be below or to the side
depending on the cast made. Either way it is bad for the next cast because it
will upset the line and cause wiggles and bends and all sorts of other undesirables.
The other reason is slack line. At the end of each casting stroke when the line
is fully straight, there is a point where we are no longer in control of it. The
point where the line is stopped and we are ready to pull it in the other direction.
At this point the line is stationary in the air and we have no control. Add in
the kick at this point and you can see where the problems start.
So how does using an oval stroke help? Well, with
a constant tension the line is always in control. Not only this, but because the
line is travelling in an oval there is much less kick from the fly. The line doesn't
get shocked at the end of the loop unfurling because the line doesn't stop. Very
So in using the Belgian cast (or Austrian cast)
we reduce or even cancel the two main problems involved in casting big flies.
Kick and control as the loop unfurls fully.
Well, now we know that, I'm
sure you are just bursting to know how to make this wonderful cast. Very easily!
On the back cast just the line under or off the side of the rod. Now, because
we require the line to be under constant tension the timing is a little bit different
for this cast. We start everything going the other way a little bit earlier. We
don't want the line to stop at the point where the line is fully unfurled. Start
the forward cast as soon as the line is straight and the leader is still looped.
There is another benefit to this cast that comes
quite by accident. Because the loop is effectively flying in it's side, the fly
no longer kicks downwards at the end of the stroke meaning you have more ground
clearance for the fly on the forward cast. Very handy when casting with a big
seaweed covered rock behind you. With a little bit more practice it is possible
to actually cast the loop under the rod rather than off the side of it and this
has the effect of lifting the fly even further up as the line straightens.
What could be going wrong? If you are making the
cast and the line is going no where on the back cast you have forgotten the hard
stop. Just because the line is travelling in a curve, doesn't mean we can do without
the flick at the end of the stroke. Also make sure your back cast is 180 degrees
from your forward cast because if it isn't the cast will not be efficient.
Getting fancy! For those that pick this cast up
in no time (that's all of you right?) you can add in a little "rotation"
of the wrist. On the back cast the stop can be made using a flick of the wrist
to the side in the exact motion you use to turn off your car with the key. The
wrist is opened not by moving the wrist up (like lifting the thumb) but by the
action you would use for revving a motorcycle. This will give a very efficient
flick and produce a very nice pointy loop.
Any problems - See you in the
Carl Hutchinson is a qualified instructor
with the FFFE and FFFUSA and runs saltwater fly fishing Mullet with www.corporateflyfishing.com
He is a member of the board of the British fly Casting Club and has fished extensively
in many saltwater locations and specialises in saltwater fly fishing for Salmon