Fly-fishing: Expert takes ‘hope’ out of casting

You won’t find many people who have thought as much about fly-casting as Ed Jaworowski.

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You won’t find many people who have thought as much about fly-casting as Ed Jaworowski.

The author of “The Cast” and “Troubleshooting The Cast” has spent 35 years figuring out how to make a fly line go exactly where he wants it to go.

Just typing that phrase — make a fly line go exactly where he wants it to go — gives me a little vertigo. Like many of us, my casting consists of a lot of effort and a lot of hope.

Jaworowski, a professor of classics at Villanova University, doesn’t believe in hoping one’s line goes as far or as straight as they want it to. If you can’t cast far enough, if your line piles up or hooks to the side, it didn’t do so on its own, and your troubles didn’t happen by chance. If your line didn’t go exactly where you wanted it to go, it’s because you didn’t cast it properly.

Everything is physics, cause and effect.

“Every fly rod casts better than the person holding it,” Jaworowski said Sunday, when I and five other guys took in a casting clinic with him at The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, N.J.

Jaworowski gets paid for such one-to-one instruction, but I don’t think I’ll be giving away his trade secrets by recounting his main points here as best I can. They are, after all, explained in detail in his books. Nor do I presume to be able to explain these as well as he does. But I came away from the session with a few valuable insights, and I’d like to pass them along, in case anyone finds them useful.

His approach to casting includes four principles. In no particular

order, they are:

u Slack must be eliminated from the cast before the rod can begin to load. When you lift your line off the water to make a back cast, point the tip right at the water and pull out any slack. If your line hand is two feet from your rod hand, and the line is dropping between the two, that’s slack, too, and your rod won’t start to load until it’s pulled out.

By the way: On your back cast, you pause until the line has straightened out behind you, and then start your forward cast, right?

Not quite. If you wait until the line straightens out, you’ll have a little slack back there — usually enough to cause shockwaves in the line that rob energy from your forward cast. Start the forward toss just before the line straightens out. If you have enough zing on your back cast, the pause can be almost indistinguishable.

u To load the rod, you must

accelerate through the casting stroke, both on the forward cast and the back. Start slow, finish fast. And finish hard.

I asked Jaworowski about the advice I had been given to “decelerate quickly” at the end of the stroke. He shook his head. “Never decelerate,” he said. Stop your hand in no uncertain terms, and keep it stopped until the next stroke.

u The line can only go in the direction the tip is moving when it stops.

Does your cast pile up on the

water, short of the target? You may be stopping with your rod tip pointing slightly downward, and not even realize it. Make the tip of the rod travel in a vertical plane, or even a slight upward incline. You’ll gain distance.

u The longer the stroke, the more acceleration you can develop and the more energy you’ll transmit to your line. Ten o’clock and 2 o’clock?

That works for short casts. When you need to whale out a 60-footer, go ahead and reach way back. Then make the forward cast before any slack develops, starting slowly, speeding up and stopping hard, with the tip going in the right direction — and watch how nicely that line unrolls in front of you.

Of course, these are oversimp­lifications of Jaworowski’s

approach. I heartily recommend his books, which are beautifully written and illustrated. A personal session with him is better yet.

Crosson Remembered

Many Capital Region fly-fishers were fond of Phil Crosson of Ballston Spa, the burly, mustachioed, retired customs agent with the New Yawk accent who worked in the fly-fishing department of Goldstock’s Sporting Goods in Scotia. I was saddened to learn that Phil died of cancer

Jan. 23 at age 65.

It was always a pleasure to drop in the shop and find Phil behind the counter. He dispensed excellent advice about fly-fishing and fly-tying, along with colorful tales from his days “on the job,” delivered in an ex-cop’s no-nonsense, street-savvy style, but with an easy smile and a twinkle in his eye. Phil made customers feel welcome, and shared their enthusiasm for fly-fishing. He was a gentleman, and he will be missed.

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