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Secrets of Fly Casting with Jim Green

December 21, 2018 By: Marshall Cutchin

Producer: Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club

Jim Green made this 16mm instructional film in 1975 and it was used by Fenwick and later by L.L. Bean. A pioneer in modern rod materials, Jim Green invented the patented Feralite ferrule for Fenwick. Jim also made significant contributions to two-handed and tournament fly casting. Jim authored the book Fly Casting: From the Beginning, in 1971. Jim passed away in 2004. In his memory we annually celebrate him at the Jimmy Green International Spey-O-Rama at the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club.

“in 1937 Jim Green won the international fly casting championship in Paris France.  He was 17 years old at that time, and he’s been casting and fishing ever since. His whole life revolves around fly casting. He’s written a book on his method titled Fly Casting: From the Beginning,” and he was instrumental in developing the first HMG fly rods for Fenwick.

Jim has given hundreds of demonstrations and anyone who’s had the opportunity to watch him cast has to marvel at the smoothness and ease with which he delivers a fly. Jim Green is not a big man and he doesn’t exert himself but the line forms a tight graceful loop and carries a fly further with less effort than most of us use in pounding a nail. Perhaps Jim has a secret to casting. If he does he’ll be happy to share it with you.

We find Jim at his casting pond near the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

‘Hi, good morning. I’m feeding my fish this morning. I come out here every once in a while and catch a few. I use the fish for testing Fenwick rods. In fact the very day of filming, a rod is finished, it’s a brand new one of some kind, where I can bring it out here and play a couple of fish. It’s nice to have this kind of property up here in the northwest where we can build upon like this and be able to enjoy a little fishing and testing rods. Also I understand you’re having problems with your casting.

Let’s take a few minutes this morning here and we’ll go through some of the problems that the beginners as well as some of the people who have been casting for a long time encounter. Casting is really not very difficult. It doesn’t take any more strength to make bad mistakes as it does to do the correct movements. So let’s see if we can’t go through some of these problems and straighten it out for you and make your fishing a lot more enjoyable….

The first thing in fly casting is to grab the rod comfortably. Put it in your your hand in such a manner as to wrap your fingers around, and I usually put my thumb sort on top of the rod. You don’t have to put it exactly on top, but a little bit too left or the right just so it’s comfortable. You don’t have to grab it tight but just just hold it in in a comfortable position. The first problem that we encounter in the beginner in making a back cast is if the caster holds his forearm in one position rigid and he opens and closes the wrist. Now when you do this the tip of the rod travels in an arc and the line does not like to follow an arc. It has to follow the movement of the tip in a straight line. So the beginner, you’ll notice, will do this, and because the rod goes in an arc then his back cast will hit the bottom behind him or hit the water….

Now the proper movement is to move the rod or the hand back and forth in a straight line. Make believe that you have a imaginary line here. Now look at the difference of the correct movement. You move the hand back and forth in this manner. You see here’s the bad movement. Here’s the correct movement. Now it doesn’t take any more strength to make this correct movement as it does this bad movement.

Now the next thing that beginner does is, if he doesn’t open or close this wrist you might open and close the elbow movement. You can accomplish the same thing by opening and closing the elbow by moving the elbow.  The tip of your rod is still traveling in an arc. Again let’s look at the right movement. Move your rod back and forth in a straight line you notice I’m keeping my wrist closed when I first start the movement. The wrist is closed back and forth in a straight line as opposed to this or this. This is the correct movement here. Now when you make a back cast you want to come back on this straight line, and just as you get to the point where you want to stop the rod so the line will roll from that point you stop the rod. Then you open the wrist….”