How Far Can Superman Cast?

How Far Can Superman Cast?

Plus, what you can learn from wiggling a fly rod

  • By: Buzz Bryson
  • and Paul Guernsey
How far is it possible to cast with a fly rod? What is the longest cast ever made? Is any distinction made between casts with floating lines and those with shooting heads?

Well, to find the longest casts made with a fly rod, we will have to go to formal casting competitions. This is true primarily because the best casters are there (at least those who enjoy competition)--but also because the casts in these competitions are accurately measured, not eye-balled.

The American Casting Association has several distance events (and accuracy events as well). For distance, there are three contests, with "Angler's Fly Distance" being the most representative of "normal" casting. In that event, the caster uses a head of between 28 and 31 feet, weighing no more than 310 grains, and a shooting line of at least 0.015 inches. The rod is limited to 9 feet, 1 inch, and a leader of between 9 and 12 feet must be used. Finally, there is a standard "fly" that must be used.

With the above gear, the ACA record is 190 feet (shared by Steve Rajeff and Rene Gillibert). If that's not impressive enough, the other two contests, one-handed and two-handed fly distance, use stouter equipment. Record distances there are 236 feet (Steve Rajeff) and 290 feet (would you believe Steve Rajeff again).

More representative of what "normal" distances can be reached are found in the casting competitions held at various sport shows throughout the country. Those events require the competitors to use a production 9-foot, 5-weight fly rod and a WF floating line plus leader and "fly." The lines used are standard production lines with the exception of having more running line. Distances vary, depending upon the venue and conditions, but several winners have cast over 110 feet. From this, it's clear that shooting heads and skinny running lines can be cast greater distances than standard WF floating lines.

If you think you're ready for taking on these guys, hop on down to your local ball field with your 5-weight, stand on first base, and try to drop your fly on home plate. You might find out that a measured 90 feet is quite a far cast. --B.B.

At fly shops, fishing shows and elsewhere, I always see people wiggling fly rods, as if wiggling causes a rod to reveal all its secrets. Can you really tell anything at all important by wiggling a fly rod?

You certainly won't want to make a final decision on a rod by wiggling it, or even waggling it. But in some cases, you can form general impressions. Some rods are so soft or so fast that a good first impression is enough to make you want to cast it--or put it back in the rack quickly. Sometimes a quick wiggle will give you an idea of whether a rod is very light- (or heavy-) feeling, particularly in the tip section.

Beyond those general impressions, however, I don't think wiggling a rod is much of an indication of its fishing performance. In fact, I think it's very important, whenever possible, not only to test-cast a rod, but to test it with the line, leader and fly type you'll normally use, and to test it at the distances you'll typically be fishing. Lighter line-weight rods, in particular, can be very sensitive to changes in these variables.

I guess I'd suggest wiggling a rod provides as much information about its ultimate "fishability" as revving a car's engine at the dealership tells about its handling. --B.B.

Please settle an angling etiquette question for me. When you arrive at a popular fishing spot, one that has room for a single angler, and someone is already fishing there, how long should he continue to fish before he offers to let you have a turn? And, if he doesn't take the hint, how long should I wait before I say something to him about being a "hole-hog" or just ease in alongside him in order to share in the bounty? Also, if I fish a spot regularly, doesn't that give me some rights to it that a newcomer or less-skilled angler doesn't have?

Why waste your breath saying anything at all? If the other angler doesn't immediately vacate the pool when you show up, just throw a rock into the water…

I have to tell you, in other words, that I strongly disagree with all of your implied assumptions here, and I believe most other anglers would disagree with you as well. In fact, your questions have left me wondering where--and how--you grew up.

To begin with, if someone arrives at a spot ahead of you, you don't get a turn. The other angler gets to stay there as long as he likes. Not only do you not get a turn, but nagging the other angler, standing there staring at him or--horror of horrors--crowding the other person, marks you as nothing but a no-class bully regardless of how good a fisherman you are. And the fact that you fish there frequently or that you think you have more technical skill than the other angler does not change things a bit.

The only exception to any of this would be on private water where formal rules of some kind are in effect. And of course, if you actually own the property, that makes all the difference in the world. But apart from these two scenarios, your only ethical choice is to move along and find your own fishing spot. So, please start doing that.

Remember that fly-fishing is supposed to be a relaxing sport. You should leave the office politics, your personal frustrations, and your high-school locker-room manners at home--or at least keep them to yourself. --P.G.

Got questions about anything under the fly-fishing sun? Write to "Ask FR&R," PO Box 370, Camden, ME 04843, or e-mail us at