See The “U”

CoverWatching how your line behaves during the cast will tell you if you’re making mistakes. It’s tricky to self-diagnose the exact nature of a problem, however, and even harder to make the fix. Before you get bogged down in complicated physics lessons, try watching your casts from a fresh perspective. Dan Wright taught me this exercise: To help develop the proper feel for a cast, first tilt your rod sideways and cast from waist or chest level on a flat plane above the ground. Use a measuring tape stretched straight along the ground as your benchmark. Start with small flicks of line, maybe 15 feet long. As you look at the line shooting back and forth, you’ll be able to see and feel both good U-shaped loops and tailing loops. Make both forward and backward casts from a dead stop. Eventually, link those casts together. Build line length gradually. As the good loops become uniform and systematic, you’ll be able to lift that cast 90 degrees over your head, still watching, and feeling, how the line shapes. If you tail, start over. The key is keeping the tempo even. Good loops grow in distance with practice. —K.D.