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Backhand Casting – Adjust Your Trajectory

Posted on November 25 2016

Backhand fly casting tips.
Cast high on the forward cast and present low on the backcast. Photo Credit: Jason Whiting.

Presenting the fly on your backcast is one of the most useful casts on the flats. Being able to effectively deliver the fly on both the forward and backcast allows you to present the fly in virtually any direction without hooking yourself, the guide, or ever needing to reposition the boat – all good things.

In theory, presenting the fly on the backcast sounds easy enough.. After all, in a traditional overhead fly cast, barring outside factors (wind, obstacles, etc.), the timing and tempo of both the forward and backcast should be exactly the same. So, conventional wisdom might say when presenting the fly on the backcast, simply make a normal forward cast directly away from your target, and drop the fly on the backcast.. Makes sense, right?

However, in a purely fishing situation, we’re not casting in a vacuum. And, often times we’re attempting to deliver the fly softly from an elevated position (especially when fishing from a boat). Therefore, something must change between the forward and backcast when presenting the fly. In a word, that change is trajectory, and here’s why it matters when delivering your fly on the backcast.

Presenting on the Backcast – The Importance of Trajectory

Most experienced casters are aware that when presenting the fly from an elevated position it is crucial that the trajectory of the line is directed high on the back cast, and low on the forward cast, thus allowing the leader to straighten out just above the surface of the water. Without adjusting the trajectory, the loops are left to unroll parrallel to the surface of the water when presenting the fly, leaving the line, leader, and fly at the mercy of the wind before settlting on the water. Consider your height, plus the length of your rod, plus the height of the bow above the surface of the water. Without adjusting your trajectory, the fly and leader are left high in the air, where the wind is. Thus, for the majority of casts directly to a target, we must cast slightly higher in the back, and lower in the front.

However, what many folks forget is that when presenting the fly on the backcast, the proper trajectory on the forward and backcasts must be reversed! Otherwise, the backcast (which is now being used to present the fly) is lofted high into the air allowing the wind to take full control. At this point, the only way to compensate is to drop the rod tip all the way down to the surface of the water, creating a wide loop, that generally lands in a heap of fly line, leader, and broken dreams far short of your target. Sound familiar?

Instead, when presenting on the backcast, try reversing the trajectory of your cast by throwing your forward cast high (directly away from your target) and your backcast low. Doing so will allow you to form a tight, effiecient loop able to straighten out your fly line and leader directly to your target.

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