Learning the Constant Tension/Oval Cast with Justin Duggan

Justin Duggan fly fishing in Sydney Harbour
Table of Contents

Hello there, fellow fishing enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving into a vital technique from the knowledge of Justin Duggan, known as the constant tension, or oval cast. Whether you’re tackling formidable winds or hefty flies, mastering this skill is a game-changer. In fact, Justin, a seasoned guide and certified casting instructor, considers it the cornerstone of effective fly fishing. So, let’s check it out. 

Why This Cast Matters

Picture yourself on a breezy day, casting your line on the water. If you’re accustomed to vertical casting alone, you may encounter challenges. The wind can easily push your fly back towards the rod, especially when using heavy flies, which can lead to mishaps. Here’s where the constant tension cast comes into play. It’s purpose-built to keep your fly clear of the rod’s plane, preventing accidents and enhancing your casting efficiency.

The Basics of the Constant Tension Cast

Let’s break down this cast into its fundamental steps. The key to this technique is to maintain constant tension on the fly. Start by making a circle in the air with the fly, which causes it to ascend behind you. Next, adjust this circle into a more oval shape. This flattens the top and bottom of the oval, preparing for an effective cast.

The Importance of Loop Direction

In the constant tension cast, the direction of the loop is crucial. Instead of the loop curling over as in a standard cast, it ascends, resulting in the fly turning over with an upward trajectory. This technique involves moving the fly rod out to the side of your body, ensuring that the fly remains at a safe distance.

Executing the Front Cast

Now, it’s time to transition into the front cast. By bringing the front cast over your head, you maintain the oval shape while executing a more standard front cast. This results in the fly being out to your side and above your head on the back cast and then transitioning smoothly over your head on the front cast.

Common Mistakes and Tips

But angler beware! Justin has observed a few common errors in this casting technique. One significant mistake is starting the back cast too low, which can create a dome-like trajectory. The key is to pause briefly at the highest point of your back cast before moving into the forward cast. This brief pause is crucial for maintaining control and precision.

When Should You Use This Cast?

This casting style proves exceptionally effective when dealing with heavy flies and fast-sinking lines. One common challenge in such setups is the shockwave effect, where the fly tends to bounce back, causing disruptions in the line. The constant tension cast, characterized by its ascending motion, effectively minimizes this effect, resulting in a smoother and more controlled cast.

Watch it Here

Well, there you have it – Justin Duggan’s take on the Tension or Oval Cast. This brief introduction provides valuable insights, but there’s much more to explore in his masterclass. If you’re serious about improving your fly fishing skills and want to learn all of Justin’s secrets and techniques, consider enrolling in the full class. It’s an investment that can boost your skills, enhance your fishing experience, and lead to more rewarding adventures on the water.

Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors

Anchored Outdoors is an ever-growing network of fly fishing experts who’ve been brought together by podcaster and fellow outdoorswoman, April Vokey.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related Stories

Mending is not just a technique but an art that significantly enhances your ability to present flies - be they dry flies, nymphs, or streamers - in a manner that entices fish, transforming luck into skill. One person who knows a thing or two about this topic is Mickey Finn.
Ryan Brod is a seasoned writer whose essays have graced the pages of numerous prestigious publications. In this episode, we discuss fishing in Maine, how to fly fish from a canoe, fishing for carp in tidal waters, what makes us hunters (as anglers), choosing passion over profit in this day and age, and more.
There are a number of casting faults that most new Spey casters tend to make, but today we're going to focus on two of the most common culprits: The Bloody L and the Creep.