Presenting the fly on your backcast is one of the most important casts on the flats. Not only does it allow you to make effective casts without the need for the guide to adjust the boat, its also a great option for presenting the fly under one of the most difficult casting scenarios; casting with wind on your dominant (casting) shoulder.
The ability to deliver the fly on the backcast is a game-changer. That’s why we’re kicking off a multi-tip series of posts on how to make better backcast presentations. Today’s topic? Bracing!
Better Backcast Presentations – Part 1: Bracing
A challenge most anglers face when attempting to deliver the fly on the backcast is that the muscles used to drive the rod tip backwards are not nearly as strong as those used to drive the rod tip forward (as in a typical forward cast). For the majority of casters (those who prefer to cast with their thumb on top of their grip), the thumb is also positioned on the underside of the rod on the backcast, making a weaker grip than that of the forward cast as well. Therefore, its not uncommon for anglers to feel they’re unable to muster up the power/strength on the backstroke required to bend the rod deep enough to drive the ‘backcast’ towards their target. This is especially apparent when attempting to present the fly on the backcast into the wind.
To remedy this, an effective technique to increase your strength on the backstroke (in turn increasing the bend you’re able to put into the rod) is to brace the butt of the rod against your forearm on the backstroke. Doing so offers more leverage against the rod, allowing you to better control the rod with the stronger muscles in your upper arm and shoulders than by only your wrist and forearm. It’s known as ‘bracing’ and it works wonders to increase the power of your backstroke, particularly when dealing with heavy salt water rods, wind-resistant flies, and windy conditions.
Keep in mind that the same principles apply when presenting the fly on the forward cast with a stiff wind from behind. Bracing on the backstroke can help straighten your backcast for better forward casts too.
Give it a try!