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The image above depicts how one should grasp the fly rod. This is similar to shaking hands with someone. Align your thumb at the top of the grip so as to provide greater force in shorter casting strokes. There are alternative styles as well. You may also place your index finger along the top if it is more comfortable. This technique will help you avoid cocking your wrist - a common rookie mistake. Lastly, you can also wrap all fingers around the grip if you prefer. The first option not only provides the most strength, but it is usually the most comfortable and least tiring. Go with whatever is most agreeable. We're here to have fun.
The proper technique for the basic cast is to think of your arm and wrist creating a V shape. Your elbow would be the bottom of the V and remains stationary. The bulk of the work is done with the forearm. Imagine your forearm is the big hand of a clock. Striaght up is 12:00 o'clock. You want to keep the motion of your cast between 11:00 and 1:00. The wrist should be slightly above your shoulder and elbow at breast height. Going from 12:00 to 11:00 is described as the backcast. Proceeding in a forward motion from 11:00 to 1:00 is the forward cast. Let your forearm do all the work and keep your rod tip following a straight line through the air. The non-dominant hand is going to play an important role in controlling the fly line distribution and retrieval. We will discuss that in further detail in a different section.
---- Shooting and Stripping the Line ----
First, we want to pinch the line between our pointer finger and the grip as seen below. This will allow for greater control of your line.
Release your pointer finger (on the rod hand), also known as the trigger finger, and strip the line with your off hand. Strip approximately 10 feet of line then apply pressure again with your trigger finger. After you are all set stripping the line, give a few false casts then on your forward cast unpinch your trigger finger, as well as your off hand thumb and pointer finger guiding the line with your remaining fingers - this will shoot the excess line giving you 10 more feet to your cast. Be sure the rod hand thumb is aimed toward your target and the rod tip stops at the 1:00 position for higher accuracy. The double haul and roll cast are two important variations to have in your bag of tricks. The former provides higher line speed giving you more distance. The latter is good to use when your back is against trees. We will cover these in further detail in the near future.