Being able to present the fly quickly and effectively on the back cast is one of the most important casts to know on the flats. Presenting the fly well on your back cast enables you to cast safely when the wind is on your right shoulder (or left shoulder for you leftys), as well as cast to fish on either side without repositioning the boat. Don’t take our word for it however, let saltwater guru, Bruce Chard, convince you in video form, here.
Most of the time at Andros South, our shots at bonefish are really close, usually only requiring casts in the 30-40 foot range. However, should the need arise to cast a bit further, or with enough energy to punch through a stiff wind, being able to while presenting the fly on your back cast can make all the difference.
This is one of the more difficult casts to make on the flats, and because of that, we reached out to the legendary Gordy Hill for his take on the most common mistakes made while presenting the fly on the back cast. Gordy is a true pioneer of saltwater fly fishing as we know it, an FFF Master Certified Instructor, and a member of the FFF board of governors.. So yeah, he knows a thing or two about casting. Thanks Gordy!
Presenting on the Back Cast – 3 Common Mistakes
- Bad Setup. “For a standard forward presentation, the back cast provides the set up for the forward cast. A bad set up leads to an inefficient next cast. When making a back cast before a forward presentation, almost all casters have at least a slightly less efficient narrow loop. Now, when we make a true back cast presentation cast, we can actually take advantage of that fact by making the forward cast with as much line speed as possible along with a very tight loop. That provides a nice set up for a good back cast presentation. Of course that won’t work when casting a heavily weighted fly…”
- Wimpy Hauls. “For many casters, the haul made on the back cast is a bit “wimpy” when compared to the ones the same caster makes on the forward cast. To solve this, be sure to make well timed, rapid hauls on the back cast, the length of the haul being commensurate with the distance desired. (“Short cast / short haul – long cast/ long haul”).”
- Don’t Forget the Forward Cast! “Some fly fishers concentrate on the back cast presentation to the point that their timing on the preceding forward cast suffers. That sometimes results in the back cast presentation beginning before the loop of the forward “set up cast” has fully unrolled. This results in some of the energy which should have gone into the back cast presentation actually helps the preceding loop unroll. It happens because part of the casting arc for the back cast presentation is used up before the oncoming line comes tight and the rod begins to load (bend). When that occurs, it is the same as having too little casting arc for the amount of line carried and the bend of the rod, sometimes causing a tailing loop.” This is a common casting fault we see a lot of on the forward cast as well called creep.
When either of these faults occur, the caster often feels as though “something isn’t quite right” causing them to apply more force to the rod. This can result in an erratic casting stroke which is inefficient, rather than having a stroke with almost constant acceleration. This can also cause a tailing loop.