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Tony E

20 Sept 2023

The 'Elliptical Cast' is an Efficient way to Cast in a Tailwind

A light tailwind is every angler’s dream and makes for easy casting, but a strong tailwind can create significant problems, especially when casting weighted nymphs. As a tailwind increases in strength, the inability to efficiently keep the rod loaded on the back-cast becomes an issue. This can be downright dangerous with a heavily weighted nymph whizzing past the ear.

Normally on the back-cast, we are taught to cast over the shoulder in an upward motion, which exposes the underside of the line to the force of any tailwind. This slows the fly-line and stops it from fully loading the rod. Good presentations become increasingly more difficult and inefficient as the wind intensifies and casting distance increases. The solution is to keep the line as low as possible on the back-cast, and then use the force of the tailwind on the front-cast. This is achieved quite easily by creating an elliptical under-and-over motion with the cast, rather than the more traditional lift-and-push usually employed.

To start the back-cast, first open the wrist of the casting hand away from the body, so that the rod-tip is tilted almost horizontally away at right angles.

Then draw the line backwards with the casting hand below the shoulder, raising the hand slightly as it nears the limit of rearwards motion. This will ensure the line travels backwards under the wind and well away from the body.

This phase of the cast relies on continuous movement to keep the rod loaded. Accordingly, there should be no significant pause at the limit of the back-cast. At the backward limit of the cast re-cock the casting hand into the normal casting position, rotate it forward with a snap and roll the line over and forward, which creates an open loop that will catch and maximise the benefit of the tailwind.

Flies can be efficiently false-cast this way by rotating the casting hand under on the back-cast and over on the forward cast in an elliptical fashion (hence the designation ‘elliptical cast’). There should be a definite snap to the forward-cast, and a pause at the frontal limit to allow the fly-line to extend and reload the rod for the back-cast.

Even when there is no tailwind, the ‘elliptical cast’ is also an efficient way to cast a short line with a long leader, a great way to safely cast very heavy flies at any time and an effective technique to quickly dry off a dry-fly. NB: It is not however an efficient motion when casting ‘into the wind’ … refer to the ‘Ping Cast for Casting into a Headwind’.

This style of cast also goes by several other names including; the ‘Oval Cast’ and the ‘Continuous Line Tension Cast’. It is also sometimes known as ‘the Belgian cast’, which is really a misnomer. The first angler to develop the elliptical style of casting was Austrian angler and river-keeper Hans Gebetsroither, in the 1930s, who taught it to accomplished anglers like Charles Ritz and Belgian casting champion Albert Goddart. Over the years many great anglers have incorporated the elliptical style into their casting for use in a wide range of situations, including famous US anglers, Lee Wulff and Lefty Kreh.


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