Article - Hall of Fame

The fabulous famous FWK Wallis Cast

By Phil, added on 31/05/2007

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No fishing Hall of Fame could be complete without the most famous fishing cast of all…The Wallis Cast. The mythical, mystical, magical and majestic.

It is synonymous with split cane rods and centre pin reels and most traditional anglers have tried to master it at one time or another and with varying degrees of success.

Here we have the Wallis Cast in photos and demonstrated by the great FWK himself for the Lonsdale Library’s publication Fine Angling for Coarse Fish, published in 1930 by Seeley, Service & Co.Ltd. and featuring such notable contributors as A.E.Hobbs, Eric Taverner, Edward Ensom ("Faddist"), the eponymous A.J.Rudd, and the splendidly named Alban Bacon Barrister-at-Law.

To be perfectly frank, I don’t consider that FWK really did "invent" the Wallis cast. Nor do I think he would have claimed to. In reality, he was simply an outstanding exponent of "The Nottingham Cast" and his chapter in the aforementioned book is titled "The Modern Light Float Cast from the Reel – Nottingham Style" and this style of cast evolved from first emergence on the Trent in the 1850s. The Wallis Cast is not so much an invention as a variation.

It was in 1904 that Wallis won the International Casting Tournament freestyle float casting event. Using a David Slater (of Newark) rod and Slater’s new improved "Wallis Zephyr" centre-pin reel, Wallis flicked a 1 ½ drachm load 235 feet. I conjecture that this feat set off an association of the name Wallis with the Nottingham cast that grew and grew until it became inseparable from "Wallis Wizard" and "Wallis Zephyr" and became "The Wallis Cast".

Wallis wrote:

"Fishing in the following style, the angler who has the art thoroughly mastered will have no difficulty in propelling the float to a distance of 100ft and this with an easy grace and very little effort".

An easy grace and very little effort. That’s the secret, surely. No snatch. No jerk. No force.

Wallis’s instructions were very specific…but it should be remembered that they relate to the Nottingham Cast as he did it, which is to say the way that he was most comfortable with and which was best suited to his own build and manual dexterity.

So when he starts by saying that the reel should be fitted ten inches from the top of the rod handle, it’s because this is where it was best balanced for him. And when he describes the positioning of the fingers it was because he was most comfortable with flicking the spool with his little finger. If you are not comfortable with either of these "basics" it’s unlikely that you’ll cast with "easy grace and little effort", so be prepared to adapt Mr. Wallis’s instructions or you’ll become frustrated before you become fruitful.

That said, here’s how to Wallis Cast paraphrased from the pen of the great man himself:

  1. Position the reel 10in from the butt.
  2. Hold the rod and reel seat firmly by the first three fingers and thumb, leaving the little finger free to brake lightly the rim of the reel.
  3. Drape the terminal tackle across the palm of the other hand and loop the thumb of this hand over the reel line.
  4. Holding the rod horizontally cross your rod arm across your chest, still holding the terminal tackle in the other hand and still with thumb looped in reel line and little finger of rod hand holding the reel rim in check. Now you are positioned to make the cast.
  5. Firmly but smoothly sweep the rod around until it points below which you want your float to land. All but simultaneously (you’ll get the timing with practice) open your palm to release the terminal tackle (but keeping thumb looped in line) and sweep that arm down and slightly behind you, splaying your fingers as you do so. The thumb that you have looped over the line will tug the reel into a spinning motion and splaying your fingers will release your hand from the line.
  6. Break the rim of the reel with your little finger to control its flight or to stop the reel spinning as the float gently splashes down…hopefully where you want it 100 yards away!

The easiest way to render a millipede immobile is to ask him which leg he moves first when he starts to walk. It’s somewhat similar trying to learn the Wallis Cast. The more you think about it how to do it right, the more difficult it becomes.

In fact, I doubt that there’s a perfectly right way to do it. Pull the line or flick the reel? What matters is which comes most naturally to you. Personally, I hold the rod below the reel, forefinger on top, and batt the reel into action (and brake it) with my thumb. I find it simpler that way but others may not.

In conclusion, I guess you have to be Wallis to do the Wallis cast. Me, I’m happy with the Nottingham Cast.

Wallis style.

Sort of.

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