In the past, translation used to be considered as a minor element inside the casting stroke; a stylistic choice. Fortunately, this view seems to be changing. Failing to give translation the relevance it deserves looks weird to me, if only because being late rotation generally accepted as an important element in fly casting, the only thing you can do before starting rotation is translating, that is, you are never going to get late rotation without some translation first!
We call casting stroke to the motion described by our arm and hand to propel our rod butt during the cast. In this way, we talk about back and forward casting strokes. The casting stroke has two main characteristics:
It has to be an accelerated motion, that is, the speed of the rod butt should be increasing over time.
It is comprised of two different elements: translation and rotation.
Stroke length and stroke angle —or translation and rotation, if you choose to be more technical— are two of the key elements of the casting stroke. Good technique asks for those two elements to be used in the proper sequence —that is, starting with translation only and applying rotation at the end of the stroke—, what has been called delayed rotation, although my mate Bernd Ziesche prefers to say:
“It is not delayed rotation, it is rotation at the right time.”
One of the greatest things about fly fishing, in comparison with other sporting activities, is that it can be practiced through our whole life; old age not really being a serious obstacle. In fact one of my fishing buddies is 70+ years old now, and it takes some serious effort to follow his rhythm on the river. Paradoxically, aging as a fly fisher is a sort of advantage, as it is the passing of years what makes our experience and technical abilities grow.
I think that, apart from extreme distance presentations, the same is applicable to fly casting, an activity in which you never stop learning and improving. In my view, along this path there are some significant milestones, like steps in the ladder of proficiency. Thinking about it I distinguish four of these “stages of enlightenment”. There are probably more, and you surely will have your own list if you reflect about it; feel free to comment your views.
So let’s go with the first stage of enlightenment.