Fly Casting- The Foundation Casting Stroke

before anything else, i want to extend a great big thank you to Jason Borger for sending me this video to share here on TLC ! first described in drawing form in his seminal book Nature of Fly Casting, today’s treat is as far as i know, the first animated rendition of the Foundation Casting Stroke.

let’s first have a look at the video in ‘real time’. enjoy !

ok, with all the other styles of fly casting around what makes this so special ? there are several aspects.
– firstly, as opposed to most other styles i can think of (with the exception of say, the 170° or other distance competition-specific methods), the FCS is the only stroke/cast/line path that all works in one plane.
as a reminder, most other styles are somewhat based on a more elliptic stroke. some more, some less elliptic but the main result is typically a back cast where the line travels behind the caster beneath the rod tip or at least much lower than the subsequent forward cast.

lifting the elbow literally ‘lifts’ the line over the rod tip.

JB 'Pistoning' FCS
its purpose is to track throughout the stroke as true as possible which means effectively having a higher BC trajectory keeping the line and fly away from obstacles and also a greater degree of fly placement precision.
– the FCS necessitates the full use of the caster’s arm. the stronger shoulder joint and muscle groups do most of the ‘work’, the quicker-to-move elbow adds a bit of speed and rod butt angle change to the stroke and the wrist and fingers finalise both speed-up and stop of the rod butt while refining the movements the bigger/stronger groups initiated.
this ‘big to small’ approach not only makes perfect sense bio-movement-wise but also greatly reduces the risk of injury, discomfort and fatigue.
– actively engaging the whole arm during the strokes and particularly the up and down ‘pistoning’ motion of the elbow makes getting a narrow and/or super-controlled loop thanks to SLP ‘Straight Line Path’ of the rod tip a piece of easily repeatable and consistent cake. among all the aspects of the FCS, that alone should get most casters interested.
another aspect i find invaluable to the FCS is it prevents what i term ‘arm laziness‘. this laziness is common amongst casters of all levels for what might be one of a million reasons but one thing i’ve noticed throughout the years is it’s often the root of many problems. to put it another way, exaggerated arm movement rarely leads to anything worse than a bigger than normal loop whereas not enough or just-at-the-limit movement very easily leads to casting nasties.

is the FCS the end-all of fly casting ? no and yes. it most definitely is not the kind of cast we’d want to do when casting big, heavy flies or teams of flies and most casting styles don’t rely on casting in a single plane to be effective and people definitely catch fish without casting the line over the rod tip.
learning the FCS however takes our casting game to a whole other level. once we’ve assimilated it to our bag of tricks we’ll be a more complete and therefore more efficient caster. it’s well worth the extra play/work to get this one down pat.
as a final note, i personally don’t consider the FCS in the least bit to be a purely vertical overhead style. we can use the exact same elbow up-and-down ‘pistoning’ as Jason calls it to any other plane in various degrees from completely horizontal and from one side of the body to the other by simply replacing the up-and-down movement of the elbow to one that goes out-and-in. as a supplement to this article, i’ll try to make a video of the ‘out and in’ motion in the near future.
for more on the SLP aspect of the FCS click here HOW STRAIGHT IS STRAIGHT LINE PATH ? and check out the comment section.

here’s  a slomo gif that’ll hopefully help to completely assimilate this all-important movement.

JB's FCS 303fps slomo

i’d like a mention that Jason’s upcoming book Single-Handed Fly Casting is in the photo/drawing stage and that the list for the 1001 signed and numbered copies is filling up quick. be sure to click HERE to reserve your copy soon, the casting world’s been waiting for this one and i’d expect them to go fast…

10 thoughts on “Fly Casting- The Foundation Casting Stroke

  1. […] video with Jason Borger on how to cast properly. We recommend that you read the whole article on Marc’s page. But you cant still watch the video with […]

  2. Interesting how close the elbow is to the body at the start of the cast and how quickly it’s returned to that same position in the downward motion. Also, and it may have to do with the distance of this particular cast, there is very little use of casting stroke length (translation). It would be interesting to see how the action might change with a longer cast.



  3. hi Rob !
    the idea here is cast right over the shoulder joint. the best way to get used to this is to simply drop the whole arm, extended down inertly by gravity and only go straight up and down from there.
    to get used to this new motion i highly recommend pantomiming with either just a rod butt section, pencil or finger as Jason does in the drawing.
    at first, some may have a certain apprehension in staying so close to the body with the idea that the fly will be closer to the caster and therefore might clip them. it’s because we can see the line/leader/fly come straight at us as opposed to the impression that the fly is somewhat going away from us when casting more to the side.
    however ! when done properly, starting off the cast with little to no slack and keying in on the elbow lift completely avoids this as the fly gets lifted over the rod tip, most often actually further away from the caster than the stroke they used before !

    as for the casting speed/pause/tempo/rhythm, it’s just as any other cast:
    short line-short stroke
    short line-faster stroke-longer stroke

    longer line-longer stroke
    longer line-faster stroke-longer stroke
    i hope that makes sense ! the faster stroke element (when using the same amount of line) is infrequently talked about in casting literature but it’s a non-argumentable fact that every caster should incorporate in the understanding of how fly casting works.

    the lift is very much part of translation. in fact, it’s what makes SLP (straight line path) so easy in the FCS.
    if it weren’t for the lift, the whole cast would basically be a rotation from the elbow and a little more added by the wrist.
    as mentioned above, a longer or faster cast (with the same amount of line) would need a longer stroke.

    i hope this helps !

  4. here’s a little more on the slower/faster (per same amount of line) stroke stuff from buddy and colleague Peter Hayes from Tasmania:

    “The speed that you move the fly line.
    If you move the fly line slowly then the rod does not bend very much. If you move the same length line faster then you will find the rod will bend more. So, depending on how fast you are moving the fly line the casting arc will have to be of an appropriate size to accept the rod bend depth. If you tow the line more quickly and you do not increase the size of the casting arc then you may get a tailing loop !”

    click here for the complete article

  5. Hi, which is on your point of view the best way to cast bulky fly and heavy lines?
    Best regards
    Happy New year

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