Casting: Breaking the Wrist
January 15, 2015
Many casting instructors teach anglers not to break their wrists during the cast. Breaking your wrist prevents the rod tip from traveling in a straight plane, and most importantly, can create tailing loops on the back and forward casting stokes. While this is true, many anglers don't realize the benefits of breaking their wrists to create power during the casting stroke. They lose the chance to make a quick cast that can shoot numerous feet of line with one back and forward cast.
I realized the benefits of breaking your wrist on the backcast while watching those Best of the West distance-casting championships at the International Sportsmen's Expo.
Some of the competitors would use what looked to me like an incorrect backcast—then they would make a 115-foot cast with a 5-weight rod. The sheer power they were storing in the rod made it possible to cast so far.
Here's how it works: When you pull the rod back on the backward casting stroke, briefly pause the tip at two o'clock and allow a tight loop to begin rolling behind you.
Then, instead of keeping the rod in this position, allow your arm to drift back while you begin to break your wrist. Stop the rod at three o'clock, with the rod tip pointed straight behind you. Once you reach the flat-rod position, stop and begin the forward cast by rolling your wrist forward until the rod is back in the straight plane of two o'clock.
Then push the rod forward on the front casting stroke while performing a haul. Stop at ten o'clock in front of you, and then extend the bend from breaking and rolling your wrist and match that with a haul. Stop abruptly at ten o'clock in front of you. The rod will bend so aggressively it looks like it is going to snap, and low-quality graphite will do just that.
This method provides a huge advantage when using streamers or casting heavy nymph rigs in tight quarters or when you need to cover a lot of ground without overcasting and spooking fish. When using streamers you can strip line into the bank pickup with one broken wrist backcast and shoot 20—30 feet with one single casting stroke.
Landon Mayer is a guide on Colorado's South Platte River and is the author of Colorado's Best Fly Fishing: Flies, Access, and Guide's Advice for the State's Premier Rivers (Headwater Guides, 2012). This feature is an excerpt from his most recent book 101 Trout Tips (Stackpole Books, Headwater Books, 2014)
Breaking the Wrist Step 1 of 5
Starting with your line taut behind you on the backcast, allow your wrist to break with the rod at the two o'clock position. To visualize the proper position of the wrist, imagine you are holding a baseball bat with the top of the bat resting on your shoulder. Photos: Jay Nichols
Breaking the Wrist Step 2 of 5
Push the rod straight forward with your elbow at your side. At the same time, push your thumb straight forward as if you are trying to pinch your index finger through the cork handle of the rod.
Breaking the Wrist Step 3 of 5
Your wrist should roll and 'œbreak' forward, increasing the speed and power of your cast.
Breaking the Wrist Step 4 of 5
Stop the rod at ten o'clock on the forward cast in the direction of where you want to present your rig. A tight loop will begin to unroll in front of you.
Breaking the Wrist Step 5 of 5
If you cast correctly, the line and loop will travel at maximum speed, without any shock waves in the line from power being applied too early or too late in the cast.