Like many saltwater fishing lessons, I first learned the importance of a back cast (aka over the shoulder cast) the hard way. I was fishing the Sea of Cortez side of Southern Baja for Roosterfish and Jacks. For those of you who have been lucky enough to experience this, you known what I mean when I say it is a “left handed fishery”. The winds in Baja during the spring and summer months are always out of the South. This means that if you cast left handed, you can comfortably double haul without worrying about a large mullet fly smacking you in the back of your head. As a righty, if you do a traditional double haul, the Southern wind would be blowing the fly right into you. This gives you two options, either change your body angle to try and avoid the wind gusts blowing the fly dangerously close to your soon to be pierced ear, or to simply present the fly on your back cast.
I say the word simply just because that is how I want you to think of casting over your shoulder, keep it simple. You already know how to present a fly on your forward cast, do all of the same steps, just change what direction (ie when during your cast) you let the fly go. When learning to cast, beginners commonly try to add some extra muscle or force right before they shoot their line. This is a habit that can quickly get corrected when one begins to see that a consistent casting stroke before shooting the line (a smooth acceleration, followed by a sudden stop) will result in a better cast. Keep this in mind when casting over your shoulder. Do exactly what you do on your forward cast. When you go to present a fly on your back cast, do not try to muscle it, just keep the same casting stroke before letting it go.
Another tip that will improve a back cast is to keep the fighting butt of the rod firmly placed along your arm just below your wrist. At the end of the day, you want a bruise from holding the rod’s butt so tightly against your forearm. This will stop your wrist from breaking too much throughout your cast and will increase the power of your back cast. If you are having a hard time with this, consider putting a rubber band around your wrist and over the butt of the rod. I have also seen people wearing long sleeve shirts that tuck the butt of the rod into the end of the sleeve. This will help serve as a reminder to keep that fighting butt firmly placed along your forearm.
Adding the back cast to your arsenal will help improve your saltwater fishing game. You wont have to worry about wind direction affecting your body’s orientation to cast. You also will be able to make a back handed shot when the guide on the polling platform suddenly sees a bonefish cruising in behind you. Just remember to keep the back cast simple. What works on your forward cast (tight loops, level casting plane, smooth acceleration) will also work on your back cast.
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