Video Pro Tip: The “Hammer” Method of Fly Casting

One of the toughest things to explain to a new fly caster is how important the hard stop at the end of each stroke is. In this new video from Trout Unlimited, my friend Kirk Deeter offers a tip taught to him by the late, great Charlie Meyers: When you are casting, imagine that you are hitting a wall with a mallet at the end of the forward and back casts. That hard stop releases the maximum energy stored in the bent fly rod, and it will help you achieve tighter loops and more accurate casts.

13 thoughts on “Video Pro Tip: The “Hammer” Method of Fly Casting”

  1. Hi folks,

    I understand that any deviation from the straight line path / straight tip path is bad. But, although I accept the abrupt stop could be an efficient concept for teaching beginners, please explain to a poor physicist why the total energy transferred to the fly line is higher (“maximised”…) when you stop the rod more abruptly. I basically don’t get it.

    Cheers & TL, Paul

    1. Paul –

      The abrupt stop is what engages the flexing action of the rod, which is what ultimately transfers the energy from the motion of your arm to the fly line. It makes your casts more powerful with less effort from you because you’re letting the rod take over.

      I don’t know if it makes sense to focus on whether the “total energy” is more or less, but you can see for yourself by just false casting an unstrung rod, that if you gradually slow down your casting stroke before you stop, it won’t flex nearly as much as with an abrupt stop because you’re losing some of the momentum by slowing down.

      It’s not that you can’t cast without the abrupt stop but you’ll cast better if you let the rod do as much of the work as possible. I hope that makes sense


  2. I agree with Andy but there’s more to it. The fact that your hand is moving along a horizontal plane means that as it is decelerating, it is also acting as a shock absorber of sorts, thereby reducing the engineered affect of the graphite and thus the resulting line speed. Stopping short like a hammer helps to compensate for the energy absorption when the brakes are being gradually applied on a longer horizontal rod motion.

    1. Phil, Andy –

      Since Orvis recently put the video up on FB again, I read the comments on my post. “The abrupt stop is what engages the flexing action of the rod”? says Andy. Well, I have to say: no. The flexing comes from the acceleration before you “stop”. Acceleration means energy transfer from our muscles to the rod/line system. 2/3 is translation energy, 1/3 is rod flex (spring energy). Energy is transferred to the line by accelerating it, the smoother the better (thus the very important concept of SLP). Energy will not be transferred to the line by stopping anything, in fact around this “stop” the energy transfer to the line has taken place already. So, although this “abrupt stop” seems to be quite a helpful advice for absolute beginners, it simply is not fair to put a windscreen wiper motion, AKA a casting error, opposite to the “stop”. The not so beginners amongst us may well take a relaxed attitude and practise a healthy drift (BTW: Mrs. Wulff calls it “follow through”).

      Cheers, Paul

      1. I get what you’re saying, but I also know that when I have an abrupt stop in my casting stroke, the fly goes where it is supposed to and when I get lazy and allow my casting motion to drift it just doesn’t work as well. I also know that when I slam on the brakes in my car and the junk goes flying forward and when I slowly apply the brakes the junk stays just where I left it. In my cast, I want the junk to go flying forward so I slam on the brakes and watch it go. The flex does seem to come before the stop to an extent, seems why a roll cast works, but you can also feel the rod flex (load) after the stop at the back cast. Wherever the load truly comes from to me is somewhat irrelevant, I am more concerned about the unload. With an abrupt stop on the forward cast the load is transferred into the line/fly. With a slow stop, the load is dissipated.

  3. Awesome. I am working on teaching fly casting to my 7 year old son, and this will be tremendously helpful. The hard stop has been something that has been difficult for him to get.

    1. I was watching a Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club video and they said to squeeze the rod’s grip at the stop. Since they’re a rather impeccable source on fly casting technique I plan to give it a try.

      1. Larry the best casters relax the grip at the end of the process of stopping (slowing to zero speed) the rod, BECAUSE this supports damping the flexing back and forth of the rod after loop formation. You better aim for this.

  4. Think of the difference as what happens to your body when you slam on your brakes and when you gently apply pressure to your brakes and you slow to a stop. Motion is transferred faster by slamming on your brakes.

  5. Hello Orvis,
    So this video is for teaching beginners, right?
    Excellent UNINTENTIONAL teaching (beginners often learn by watching) of rotational body movement.
    The last thing I want to teach a beginner for casting a short to maybe medium length of line.

    Besides that, if you are loosing the energy in your rod…. Send the ant-man into your rod and have him find it for you maybe. 😉

    From a physical point of view there are some parts incorrect in that video.

  6. That’s a pretty good tip, but the best, most evocative tip for the hard stop i’ve seen is this: Pretend you’re flicking paint off a loaded paint brush.

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