Fly Casting films- An experiment in White

having recently aquired a decent video editor has lead to a lot of playing around, a lot of confusion, a lot of “what the hell, click that button to see what happens !”, a lot of D’Ohs ! and so far, at least one ah-ha ! and that ah-ha is visible in this little gif.

see, that’s a standard black carbon fibre rod but one of those random clicks magically turned it into a glowing white, extremely visible, just perfect for demonstrating how fly rods move throughout the cast, rod.
a lot of us casting instructors already have white or high-viz rods for just this purpose but the magic button brings the visibility up several notches, really attracts the eye and will enable me to get the same after-the-fact high-viz rendition with anyone’s rod making this gizmo a super-nice tool to demonstrate and analyse anyone’s casts. yup, that’s all quite geek but i’m a casting geek… so i’m also quite excited ! as this magical surprise gives me lots of ideas for upcoming casting videos which is why i got the editor for in the first place.

technically, i’m somewhat of a digital editing newb but the old-school photo student in me tells me the rod turned white through some kind of solarization. why the magical button decided to reverse the tone of just the rod and not other similar dark tones is a complete mystery but one i’ll live with as i love a world filled with an equal balance of magic and science.
as for the cast, this is just some old random footage used for the editor-learning process. the seemingly random rod wiggling is a C pick-up towards the left followed with an aerial Snake roll to the right. being a metre or so above the water level doesn’t help to get an ideal anchor but it worked just fine. besides, casting just for the sake of casting is always fun and rewarding. funny thing with this one is the reward came several years later.

SloMo Spey

from 2013’s Nordic Fly Casting Championships here’s a little slomo ballet gem staring buddy, colleague and super-duper caster Magnus Hedman from Sweden doing a left-hand up single Spey with an 18′ rod.
we don’t get to see the line fly but the emphasis here is body movements and coordination. judging by a lot of little details such as body weight shifting, the D-loop’s position and what seems to be a perfectly placed and very short anchor it’s a fair bet that line went far… enjoy !


don’t be surprised if the Hedman name sounds familiar as we’ve seen brother Fredrik’s wicked ‘Crouching Tiger’ single-hand distance style a while back. bad-ass casting genes in this family are rather strong…

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…

Fly Casting- The Anchor does Not load the rod.


when talking about rolls or Spey casts how many times have you heard that it does or that we load the rod against the anchor ?
probably many, many, many but all those manys are wrong because the anchor can not load the rod, it’s as simple as that. let’s see why this beastie doesn’t have any magical properties, its real role and why we use it.

because slomo videos don’t lie and have the wonderful habit of debunking myths here are two eye-opening videos from Aitor Coteron with a few words first to guide you along.
– firstly, take note of the equipment and location used for this demonstration. the rod is an Echo MicroPracticeRod with its synthetic rope and yarn line and the hallway’s floor is like most hallway floors; super-slick.
in other words, the rope/yarn/floor combination offers so little grip that it’s almost irrelevant to bring up any notion of a ‘real’ anchor. i’m a dummy when it comes to physics but the only conceivable ‘anchor’ i can think of in this particular case would be gravity’s effect on the yarn and considering its mass that can’t amount to much.
i can’t put any figures to this but let’s just say that an equivalent anchor on water and its subsequent surface tension gripping qualities would be hundreds or maybe thousands of times more than this kit on this floor yet the cast works perfectly.

– as noted in the video, we’ll easily see that the anchor doesn’t move until the rod is already fully loaded and if it isn’t moving it’s because there’s no tension on it: it’s not being pulled.
if we where loading the rod against the tension of the anchor, line tension would need to start and continually increase before the rod could start to bend.
line tension is gained and the fly leg only seriously starts to move backwards in the direction of the D-loop once the cast is completed.

now that that’s done and over with and hopefully the notion that the anchor loads the rod is wiped from the slate for good, let’s consider what the anchor actually does when we’re on the water and why we need it.

the anchor’s functions are twofold and interrelate. it prevents the line end/leader/fly combo from swinging back behind the caster where it might snag something or someone while simultaneously allowing a more efficient cast because there’s a loss of line energy efficiency if part of that energy is going in the opposite direction of the intended cast. in other words, we’re pulling the line in one direction (forward) but part of that line needs to go in the opposite direction (backward) before it can turn around and go towards our target and that’s no good.
when performed on water, even if there’s a very slight reversal of the line end going backwards towards the D-loop it’s negligible compared to a slick surface. (we see this on slomo video analysis, it’s not impossible but not so hard to see this slight reversal on water with the naked eye if we look carefully)

just to give another perspective to the smooth-floor casts here’s another sample filmed from the side.

ok, with that said we’re left with the obvious question: what am i loading the rod against if it isn’t the anchor ?
well, that’s easy. it’s exactly the same principle as when we’re doing aerial casts, we’re loading the rod against the combination of the rod itself (its actual physical weight and swing weight ) and the weight of the line outside of the rod tip except for one difference, with rolls and Speys the effective line weight we’ll be using isn’t all of the line outside the rod tip but only the rod leg- A and B through C. the fly leg- C to D doesn’t contribute significantly to the loading process.
here’s further clarification on this last point from Aitor:
“Just another common misunderstanding is that the anchor + fly leg of the D loop don’t load the rod because there is very little mass in that part. That isn’t the reason. The fly leg doesn’t load the rod because it isn’t accelerated by our stroke: no acceleration = no force; no action on the fly leg = no reaction from it on the rod.”
from the second video above Side View “See how the anchor starts sliding when the stroke is almost finished. And this even on a polished floor and with a very short line between loop apex and “fly”. If the anchor doesn’t move is because nothing is pulling it.”Spey D-Loop & Anchor
the anchor D to E is disregarded which goes to explain why we don’t take into account the weight of sink tips when we’re figuring out line weights for Skagit or other shooting head line systems.
having most of the weight near the rod tip A to C also explains the typical profile of just about every Spey line there is.

and here, the very significant contribution by Grunde Lovoll.
“in another discussion on Aitors wall I was challenged to elaborate on
this statement:
“The main benefit of the anchor is preventing the fly leg from going
“backwards”. _That_ effect actually lowers rod load, since greater
velocity difference in fly- and rod-leg would result in more line
The statement above has two claims about anchors in
roll-/spey-casting (from now on spey-casting).
1) The main benefit of the anchor is that it “stops” the fly-leg from
going backwards (i.e. in the opposite direction of the cast being
2) In roll casting a slipping anchor will in fact give higher line
tension in the loop than a static anchor, and thus more rod loading.
Before I explain these two claims I would like take a step back and
talk about line tension and rod loading. Frankly I think that the
focus on rod load is causing a lot of confusion and it is anchored
(pun intended) on the “false believe” that the main driver in casting
is the rod giving back potential energy when it unloads. This may
explain why people think the anchor is responsible for rod load; a
slipping-, crashed-, skew-, misplaced-, whatever-anchor is indeed bad
for your cast; therefore the conclusion is that it also is crucial for
rod loading (which we all know is complete and utter bullshit, yeah
English is also my second language).
Now we also know that what’s loading the rod is line tension. This is
off course also correct (ignoring self loading, air resistance and
gravity), but what isn’t correct is that the tension is the same along
the whole line. This is only correct in some static cases, if the line
(or parts of the line) is accelerated the load is not the same along
the line. In the D loop of a spey-cast the tension is highest at the
rod tip and decreases as we move (along the rod leg) towards the loop
(because the line pulls on less and less accelerated mass). The
tension in the loop itself is caused by the moving rod leg, and it is
given by the momentum change in the loop. Change in momentum as the
line is accelerated from fly- to rod-leg. It can be shown that the
tension in the loop is proportional to the velocity difference of the
fly and rod leg. So as the speed of the rod leg increases the tension
in the loop also increases. This tension from the loop then pulls on
the fly-leg, and the higher tension from the loop, the higher will the
acceleration of the fly leg be.
Now we can discuss the initial two claims.
1) The purpose of the forward stroke is to get enough inertia/energy
into the rod leg so that it is able to lift the fly-leg up and forward
and still have enough energy to unroll the line and get it nice and
straight. Any line mass moving in the opposite direction is therefore
bad for the cast as it takes energy out of the cast.
2) This statement is in essence explained above. The tension in the
loop is proportional to the speed difference between the fly- and
rod-leg. A slipping anchor gives higher speed (in the opposite
direction) of the fly leg. Thus higher tension in the loop and higher
tension in the rod leg. Now; this effect is probably very small, since
the tension in the loop is small, and any benefit on rod loading is
canceled by the backwards moving fly-leg.
All in all the tension in the fly-leg is quite small in all
spey-casting, and focusing on it and how it affects rod loading is
therefore quite a diversion for understanding what actually goes on in
spey casting. Also; Aitor has brilliantly demonstrated exactly this
in many of his casting videos, so nothing new here… “

and that’s about it !  if you’re still sceptical about the anchor thing go out and try this slick floor experiment for yourself with your standard rod and line, it’s a no-brainer.
to add to that you could always consider that although not exclusively, many of the International Federation of Fly Fishers casting instructor exams are performed on grass and the roll and Spey tasks may be done there as well. i and many of my colleagues have done both the basic instructor and master level exam without water and have performed spot-on rolls and Speys without a ‘proper’ anchor. why so many have passed their exams on grass and continue to ascertain that the anchor loads the rod is beyond me… but that’s another story i guess.

Fly Casting- How straight is Straight Line Path ?

Making Adjustments on the Fly B.Gammel

a very astute casting student asked me recently, “I think I’m having difficulties keeping a Straight Line Path throughout the stroke. I must be doing something wrong ?”

i love these kind of comments. it shows the person is curious, really pays attention to what they’re doing and shows they’ve studied well. at this point i should say that his loops where ideal, nice and smooth, very close to parallel very nice loops, as nice as what we see Andreas Fismen performing in the 500fps slomo gif below. so, what was the problem then ?
since his casting was spot-on it obviously wasn’t anything he was doing wrong (loops don’t lie. they can’t) but simply his understanding of how rod tip travel should be for a textbook straight line cast but who could blame him ?
diagrams, books, videos and even in real, most instructors explain that just as in the diagram above, SLP (Straight Line Path) is a constant from one end of the stroke to the other. even in Jay and Bill Gammel’s awesome reference construct The Five Essentials of Fly Casting, this straight all-the-way-through concept is very easy to accept and take for granted.

“3. In order to form the most efficient, least air resistant loops, and to direct the energy of a fly cast toward a specific target, the caster must move the rod tip in a straight line.”

but is that what really happens ? lets take a closer look.

'SLP' Borger:Lovoll FC

first published in 2010, these findings aren’t anything new to some of us casting geeks but might be a sorta eye-opener for the non geeks, shedding some light for those who have asked themselves the same question as my student. just as we’ll see in the still below, in this study cast SLP is roughly a little bit more than a third of the overall stroke, most of the rod tip’s path has a mostly domed/convex shape with a somewhat flattened top. *
SLP length Borger:Lovoll

i won’t risk any absolutes but as far as i can tell, the only time we’re going to see a true, all-the-way-through SLP and its resultant tight loop will be when a non-flexible rod (the proverbial broomstick) is used to perform the cast. but even if the broomstick is somewhat frequently brought up in casting-geek circles and is a wonderful tool to understand a lot of casting concepts, it’s not something we use.
our ‘real’ rods bend, react to the forces we apply to them, get shorter as they bend and go back to their original length as they unbend and there’s the caster’s biomechanics and probably a billion other factors that are involved when considering rod tip path and even if they all where within my understanding, they’re not about today’s subject.

to conclude, after having shown this video and image to my student (ah, the beauty of bringing an iPad to lessons!) with a few explanations and demonstrations, you’ll most probably have already guessed it but here was the furthered response to his query.

– knowing this isn’t going to change your life, its just one of those ‘what we thought we where doing isn’t necessarily what was going on’ things.
– does this not-as-straight-as-we-thought SLP change anything in the way we should cast ? nope.
– provided you get the loop shapes you’re wanting to create, should you be doing anything differently ? absolutely not !
– if you want a straight line cast, keep on imagining your complete casting stroke is a straight one (and do all the other elements correctly) and you’ll get that tight loop and a straight line layout.

which in a certain manner, makes it resemble Saint Exupery’s elephant inside a boa drawing a lot more than your everyday ruler. at least in my eyes…

top image from Bill Gammel’s brilliant Making adjustments on the fly
regiffed video and adjoining image via Grunde Løvoll. click HERE for more of Grunde’s slomo studies on Jason Borger’s site: Fish, Flies & Water
elephant/boa drawing from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Le Petit Prince

note- although the loop shape in the gif is textbook ideal, Andreas’ casting stroke seems to be quite long considering he’s only false casting 10m (32.8ft) of line. my guess is he was casting at a fast rate which necessitates a wider casting stroke, perhaps something to do with getting a good visual result with the 500 frames per second camera.

Fly Casting- Tailing Loops, those Oh-So Mysterious Creatures !

here’s yet another inspiring casting analysis gem straight from the creative mind of Aitor Coteron.
more than worthy of careful study for fly casters of all levels, i’ll venture to say that this one’s specially important for anyone teaching casting.


” for although that dip/rise is somewhat of a “concave path of the rod tip” it has nothing to do with those big bowl shaped tip paths so many drawings depict. For years those bowl shaped explanations were to me as perplexing as the tailing loops themselves: however much I looked whenever I saw a tail in someone’s casting I couldn’t see that big concave path everybody was writing about. Not even on the casting videos available. Reality is much much more subtle, so subtle that seeing with the naked eye the expected anomaly in the tip path -even knowing what to look for- is really hard. Here we have a tailing loop in full glory. It is played at a slower pace than real speed. The tail could be used to illustrate a casting handbook; can you see the “bowled rod tip” anywhere? “

this last point is quite important. most (all as far as i know) video analysis of TLs has been done by casters staging them just as us instructors do when certifying. they’re over-exagerated and very non-realistic interpretations of what’s really going on when its an involuntary fault. or in other words, studying bad examples can only lead to bad conclusions… 
“P.S. The tailing loops shown here are real ones, nothing staged for the camera but involuntarily produced.”

i’ll not add more. click HERE for Aitor’s complete article including different gifs at different speeds and rod tip path overlays. enjoy !

Fly Casting- Dual personalities psychedelically hauled and non-hauled.

created a while back by some casting-tech geek on a casting-geek forum and slomoed and giffed for your over-and-over pleasure, this little film originally created by the Jason Borger – Grunde Lovoll duo at the Fly Casting Institute was made to show the casting stroke difference between a hauled and non-hauled cast and if i remember correctly,  the whole idea here was to show that contrary to popular notion, there wasn’t a whole lot more added rod bend to the hauled cast.
the guy in red is hauling, the same guy in green isn’t.  we’ll notice a remarked similarity between the two strokes but, as good as some casters may be and Mathias Lilleheim, the caster performing in the video is definiteley one of the more than good ones, humans simply aren’t machines. our motion repeatability skills can’t compare to those of say a robot meaning that to this guy, its not a fair comparison and not something i would use to come to any conclusions.

so with that in mind, lets forget all about the tech stuff and get to the important:
even when its not overlayed and high-teched and whatnot, fly casting; watching a line fly back and forth through the air is not only a thing of beauty but its also a trippy thing. fancy colours or not, it’s psychedelic or rather, can expand consciousness in a rather mild and safe manner that doesn’t necessitate any imagination additives and this, whether we’re doing it ourselves or watching someone else. i’ve often had feedback to this effect by people who have never picked up a fly rod themselves or who have never watched anyone cast previously and its this last part that mostly explains why i feel what i feel when casting: a strange sensation of expansion that has nothing to do with the one happening at my waistline.

i do hope you’ll enjoy this little rod-weilding visual escapade. beyond the hauled – non-hauled aspect its exemplary casting and the flashing lights in the background well… make the whole thing all that more special.

Dual-Personality Psychedelics M.Fauvet:TLC

Fly Casting- The lowdown on Tailing Loops

Mysterious Creature by Aitor Coteron

very well and simply explained, this is the best i’ve read on the subject.
more than worth the read (actually, studied), Aitor’s article includes explanations, the how and whys of Tailing Loops backed up with the help of gifs and video. this is a must for any fly fisher of any level.

“Tailing loops have the aura of a mysterious creature. Currently we know pretty well how they are generated but, at the same time, we can’t help to surprise ourselves when we get a tail now and then, no matter how experienced we are.
Aitor's Tailing Loop
I mean that when casting for perfect loop control in mind I will immediately detect any error in the stroke, my hand will easily feel any deviation of its intended straight line trajectory. The view of the fly leg getting out of plane in relation to the rod leg at the latest stages of the loop life does nothing but confirm what I already knew before stopping the rod: that I had messed up the stroke.” 

click the gif or HERE to access the complete article. enjoy !

Fly Casting- What does a Tailing Loop look like ?

upon seeing this image on a casting discussion board recently i instantly replied “that’s not a tailing loop !”, further reminding me of just how many people have a false impression of what a TL looks like.
all of these images where easily found on the net, have been displayed on sites and forums and seem to be eagerly accepted by a large percentage of those posting and viewing them.
my point here isn’t to go into the causes of tailing loops but of identifying them because to work on a casting problem first requires properly identifying what needs to be worked on before doing anything about it.

more examples by different sources but basically the same as above.

pic1this one’s getting there, could be considered a ‘tailing tendency’ because of the slight dip of the fly leg but most probably won’t lead to any problem. it does however get a few bonus points for having nice background colours.tailingon this one they managed to draw/put the tail on the rod leg !
most definitely a first as a TLs happen on the fly leg of the line…


now, before explaining why those aren’t tails and why they’re not half as bad as some might have us think lets have a look at some real ones: the really bad nasty ones.
unlike the ones above, tailing loops with a big dip in the fly leg that like to collide with the rod leg and really mess up our cast, scare fish, make friends laugh and sometimes make knots in our leaders. tailing loops can serve no good or creative purpose. they are faults and this is what they look like.

with great help from Bruce Richards and images graciously provided by David Lambert, editor of IFFF’s TheLoop,  first up are two graphic overlays taken from the video with easily understandable ‘rod tip path throughout the stroke, line path and post-stroke rod tip rebound’ colour separations to help us see what’s happening in real, not something born of imagination.



what we’ll notice right away compared to the previous images is that the dip in the fly leg crosses the rod leg twice. the dip in the line is there since the rod tip dipped and came back up during the stroke and this very same dip is reflected in the line and propagates down as it unrolls. at best the line and leader unrolls poorly and if the unrolling dip is too close to the rod leg there’s collision making bad worse.
some casting-geek colleagues might disagree with the crossing twice part as a for-sure sign of of a TL and indeed, line collision is the real nasty and isn’t dependant of how many times the line legs cross themselves however, my point here isn’t to go into minute subtleties or go against their way of thinking but to help out casters of all levels to differentiate between crossed loops and tailing loops. they’re different beasts.

i won’t go so far as to say that the first images demonstrate ‘ideal’ casting form (whatever that is) but even if some of the drawing authors bothered to include a concave path of the rod tip during the stroke hinting to what is ultimately the cause of real tails, ultimately, what we’re seeing in the drawn line paths are crossed loops and crossed loops are not a fault as long as the line legs don’t collide.

its not very common to see all-in-one-plane candy cane loops, specially with longer lengths of line carried.
crossed loops constitute about 99% (that’s just a guess but the percentage is very high) of all casts from casters of all levels, irregardless of casting school styles, casting overhead or off to the side.

crossed loops are an obvious necessity for all roll and Spey casts, many non-linear presentation casts or simply to cast out of plane to not risk banging ourselves in the back of the head with a heavy Clouser.
the Gebetsroither-Austrian-Belgian-Italian, Kreh, saltwater and almost every style of casting is based on casting in two planes and the result is a crossed loop. to put it another way, on a global level its the norm.

hopefully these few words will be of help, specially to those that might be worried because they’re not casting perfectly parallel-legged candy-cane shaped loops.
unless you’re doing big nasty Bruce-Type tails you’re probably not doing so badly after all…

Jim’s Reversed Spey

casting and film editing by Jim Williams

when learning or brushing up on any fly casting techniques, one of the better ways i’ve found is to (at least try to) analyse both theory and actual casts from as many perspectives as possible: reversed, inside out, diagonally, on different planes, through ‘third person’ video and in today’s case, backwards.
this kind of casting study might not be everyone’s cup of tea but at least its interesting to see the fly line defy the laws of physics by being pushed instead of pulled. enjoy !

btw, the cast is a Snake Roll off both shoulders.

Fly Casting- Bruce Richards helps prepare the IFFF-Certified Casting Instructor Certification: UPDATED

just a little heads up to inform potential candidates that since the original Fly Casting- Bruce Richards helps prepare the IFFF-Certified Casting Instructor Certification was posted, the good folk at Silver Creek Outfitters have added two more videos to the series bring it to a total of four.
my CCI was a while ago but if memory’s correct, apart from a few tasks that’s almost the whole test or at least the ones to focus on the most.
pretty much handed on a platter….
click the link above for the refresh.

after rereading this i thought a 3 sentence post seemed kinda bland so here’s an untouched pic of me that one of my examiners took while doing the MCCI exam near Munich in 2010. i’m hoping the IFFF will include Basic Photography 101 in future curriculums as this is anything but Masterful

hitting a wall

whatever activity it may be it happens to all of us at one point or another. in fact, it happens to me several times a day… but ! today’s fly casting analysis video, while still remaining a bit obscure to me shows us a creative test of doing this wall-hitting on purpose with a fly line:

“Fly leg momentum after the loop is obstructed”

interestingly enough, i’ve done the very same thing many-many times in more of a “i can, therefore i will” mood and because the loop ‘crumpling to bit’s looks cool but there was never any actual study of fly line dynamics type of thing intension involved. leave it to the creative curiosity genius of Lee Cumming‘s brain to try to come up with a purpose with things like this. i’ll view it a few hundred more times to see what i can get out of this before smashing me own head against the wall…

the perfect Jump Roll

performed by Christopher Rownes

also known as a Switch cast and Dynamic roll by some, i prefer not to use those terms because of all the confusion they usually create.
simply put, a Jump roll is the other form of roll cast.
instead of dragging the line back on the water to create the D loop, the ‘jump’ part means lifting the line from the water, placing the anchor, creating the D loop in line with the intended front cast direction and going into the forward cast before the D loop crashes on the water.

although hard to disassociate from the Spey cast family, it really isn’t one because this isn’t a change of direction cast. sure, we can deliver the line in a slightly different direction than where the line was lifted but that angle change is very limited.
however, the Jump’s siamese twin of sorts, will be the Single Spey which is based on the same principle but involves a curved sweeping motion and consequent D loop angle change during the ‘Jump/Lift’.

in his dvd set ‘Modern Spey Casting’, Simon Gawesworth highly recommends practicing this cast regularly and to use it to warm-up to start off the day. i couldn’t agree more. it’s not the most useful of actual-fishing casts as it means putting the fly back where it came from and usually causes some commotion on the water’s surface during the lift but ! getting it down right involves good and proper everything: power application, timing, rod tip tracking, smoothness and probably a whole bunch of other elements that’ll come back to me once i’ve published this post…

more than just ‘line-pretty’, this image shows excellent anchor placement involving anchoring only the leader and not the fly line. this provides more than enough ‘stick’ to not blow out the D loop and makes the front cast more efficient and quasi-effortless. superb form indeed.
in this image we’ll also notice that the ‘kiss and go’ principle is far from being a rule or even a necessity as we clearly see the forward cast was started and finished well before the line anchor touched down: a ‘go and kiss’.

’nuff said, here’s some line-candy. enjoy !

'the perfect Jump Roll' Chris Rownes

Fly Casting- The Pull Through

here’s part two of yesterday’s Some thoughts on Instruction and Descriptions from Mel Krieger about the often brought up Pushing vs Pulling which basically consists of:

– when Pulling we’re translating the rod throughout the majority of the stroke and rotating it at the end: Late Rotation
as Mell notes below, an easy way to see this is if the rod tip is behind the hand throughout translation.
Pulling requires a greater (and more efficient) involvement of the arm. the shoulder muscles do most of the work and the elbow leads the hand and either goes up and down (overhead casts) or out and in (non-overhead casts).

– when Pushing we’re starting the rotation much earlier and counter to above, the rod tip will be in line or in front of the hand throughout most of the stroke: Early Rotation
Pushing doesn’t require as much whole-arm work. not all casts require a lot of arm movement but on the other hand,  arm-lazyness is a really good way to mess up and make lovely tailing loops. an added unwanted bonus to these screw ups is that Pushing/Early Rotation may/can/might promote creeping.

breaking down the basics of the movements involved to these simple definitions means that this is easily observable regardless of casting style: overhead, side casting, casting in different planes or with a single or double-handed rod.

now, what’s the point and why the vs as if they where at battle ?

well, Pushing isn’t a crime in itself but it leaves us with more limitations if that’s the only way we know how to cast, specially when we’re aiming to cast in tight places, create tight loops, trying to cast farther than usual or maybe into the wind.
what Pushing/Early Rotation generally does is give us bigger loops but that’s not a sin either because bigger loops (i mean nice purposefully formed and controlled loops, not ugly, fat out-of-control blob-loops) are often a common sense safety necessity when casting heavier/bigger flies or when fishing teams of several flies or simply on the front cast when there’s wind from behind. (the bigger loop gets pushed by the wind and line, leader and fly(s) land nice and neat, the wind does a big part of the ‘work’)
just to show that pushing isn’t all evil, it’s probably the best trick of all for good, consistent casting at accuracy target rings. most if not all the better accuracy competition casters do this. these comps aren’t about delicate presentation as the line is slapped down to the target and rotating throughout the stroke also enables a better judgement when hovering (judging the distance to the ring) but wait ! doesn’t this sound like terrestrial imitation ‘plopping’ or when casting streamers to the banks from a drift boat ?

i believe that by now we’ll agree that Pulling Through the stroke is what we want to learn and have as default style and change over to Pushing when the need arises. (i really like Mel’s term ‘Pulling Through’ as it leaves an immediate understanding of the action. thanks Mel !)
i hope you’ll benefit from my ramblings and Mel’s wisdom. enjoy !

” And now to one of the most elemental and important aspects of a fly casting stroke, often overlooked by experienced caster and even many instructors. It is a pull through motion – the casting hand preceding the rod tip through most of the casting stroke – the turnover and stop taking place only at the conclusion of the casting stroke. A push through movement in the casting stroke has the rod even or ahead of the casting hand through much of the casting stroke – somewhat akin to a punching motion. While it is possible to cast fairly well with this push through motion, especially with the stiff powerful fly rods that are currently popular, the pull through casting stroke is superior.

Some analogies might be useful to more fully understand this concept. Imagine a brick on the end of the line. A hard push through motion will very likely break the rod, while a pulling motion could easily move the heavy weight. Imagine a three foot length of rope pulled through to smack a waist high board. Pulling the rope through could almost break the board while pushing the rope through would be futile.
A bio-mechanical company working with Olympic athletes and professional baseball teams concluded that the closest athletic event to a distance fly cast would be a javelin throw. Try this: Lay out 70 or so feet of fly line on a lawn behind you, fly rod pointing to the fly, and throw a javelin, turning the rod over only at the very end of the throw. You may be pleasantly surprised with this extreme pull through casting motion. Now try the same cast with a push through casting stroke, noting the significant reduction in speed and the very likely resulting tailing loop.
Shorter casts are more subtle, utilizing a fairly short pulling motion at the beginning of the cast. Many instructors teach a pulling down with the caster’s elbow or hand during the casting stroke, resulting in an excellent pull through movement. Longer casts however, require pulling on a more horizontal plane; the longest casts very close the same plane as the projected forward cast.

Start all fly casting strokes with this pulling motion – a short pull with short casting strokes and a long pull with long strokes. Combine this pulling motion with a good rod bend and you’re almost assured of an efficient cast. “

Good luck!
Mel Krieger

Fly Casting- Thoughts on the Drift, Rotary and Parallel

some excellent analysis by Steve and Tim Rajeff via Fly Casting Forum

as a reminder, here’s the generally accepted definition of Drift:

Drift: To position (or reposition) the rod between casting strokes.
Moving the rod (tip) to adjust Casting Arc, Stroke Length or Casting Plane. Drift applies little or no force on the line.

although not a necessity for every casting situation, we’ll see from the second part of the definition above that this technique should be well engrained and in every fly angler’s bag of tricks.
some purists will state that it’s not needed even for the longest casts but i can’t think of a single distance caster that doesn’t drift on at least the last back cast before delivery… besides, without going into the specialised world of competition-style distance casting, simply put, drifting makes  a lot of casts easier and cleaner. something we all aspire to, specially when fishing. why miss out ?

apart that it negates creepy creeping and greatly reduces tailing loops, parallel drifting promotes (actually necessitates) a greater involvement of the whole arm and its joints which leads to fluidity and smoothness for both the caster and line path. pretty darn good results considering how easy and effortless this action is.

if drifting isn’t part of your repertoire do yourself  the favour of practicing and keeping it in a near-to-access part of your casting brain. it will come in handy. promise !


The puzzle of  every teacher is how to introduce drift without ruining the short stroke that has been taught. The best answer to this is to teach drift way after the student is thoroughly grounded in casting and hauling etc..The interesting thing about drift is that first of  all there are two ways to drift and second, drift adds so much power and control when distance is on the menu.
The first type of drift ordinarily discovered by the caster is rotary drift – produced by angular motion of the rod from wrist action. This drift can be found in any length of stroke and tends to open up the loop in both directions.

This wrist generated angular drift is frequently followed by a tailing loop as well.

The other kind of drift is what I call the parallel drift. This will be seen in many illustrations of casting strokes and is the gem of the drift game. I don’t see it as much as the rotary drift and the reason is that it is hard to do from a mechanical standpoint. Every caster starts out wanting to cast with the wrist and one reason for that is that it is less effort to rotate the rod from the wrist than to put out the foot pounds needed to move the whole rod back, by the use of hand movement, thus adding a few inches or a foot or more to the space available for loading the rod on the forecast. The hand has to be out by the shoulder and moving from a point a foot or so in front of the head to a point as much as six inches or a foot behind the head, depending on how limber the caster is. This requires work and requires rotating the wrist forward, rather than back in order to keep the rod moving parallel to itself as the forearm is moving and rotating backward.

There are various degrees of this motion available depending on how far out from the body the cast is being made. For accuracy casts with the rod side foot forward the hand will be beside the head and moving back and forth in a plane that misses the ear, just barely. For great power, with an open stance, the rod might be outside of the shoulder in the baseball throwing motion used for great distance. In either case conscious effort to make the rod run back parallel to itself is needed . The wrist will resist cocking so far forward while the hand is moving backward. There will be instances where after the limit of  parallel drift has been reached  some rotary drift will be added to the back cast. This can get the rod back almost horizontal and in a position to come forward with the leading elbow motion that helps produce line speed. While the elbow is leading the hand forward the rod is moving forward parallel to itself before finally going into rotary motion again, leading to the final tip snap.

So, the parallel backward drift is mirrored on the leading elbow forward stroke.

This parallel drift will loosen up the arm and shoulder joints in time and should be approached gradually. It is amazing how the body wants to return to bending the wrist back rather than to perform the arduous parallel drift maneuver. But in time, the very pleasing results from this move will produce a conditioned response. If I do this uncomfortable parallel drift I will have a great back cast and forward cast.

The final dividend from  the parallel drift is that  it allows the caster to feel the tug of the line better, because the rod is closer to perpendicular to the line. The closer the rod is to ninety degrees from the line the easier it is to feel the line straighten out. Sometimes you can  drift a little more with the wrist as you feel the line straighten if there is enough speed on the back cast.

Spey Casting: Anchor/D-Loop Location and Angle and how it affects casting efficiency.

Aitor Coteron once again brings us a very insightful and thought provoking casting lesson all through the simplicity and non-arguable use of slo-mo video analysis.
as noted in the video, if the fly and rod legs aren’t parallel prior to the forward cast there’s a great deal of ‘misplaced energy’ needed to straighten the D-Loop out before the line can actually start moving forward. in a way, this is the equivalent of having slack in the system even if this slack isn’t apparent and it all seems nice and tight.
the beauty of slo-mo analysis shows this clearly when the apex of the D is moving perpendicular to the casting plane instead of inline with it.
sure, even with a sloppy anchor placement the casts still works (up to a certain point and this will be greatly influenced by the length of the line’s head) but who wants to be sloppy ? it’s much less efficient and regardless of head length we’ll notice that since the leader and fly are off to one side, once delivered, they’ll swing to the other at the completion of the cast just like when we swing the rod tip throughout the stroke in an aerial cast. in extreme cases, this will lead to line collision, a somewhat equivalent of a tailing loop.  not good.

what this all tells us or rather reminds us of is how important it is to learn and work out how to be as efficient as possible by regularly practicing getting anchor placement not only in the right location but in the right angle relative to the direction of the forward cast.

to finish off i’ll add what may seem as a minor rant but it’s intended to deepen our understanding and progression through analysis of this subject. go on Vimeo or Youtube and check out the casting hotshots and also your fishing/casting mate’s anchor placements and angles when on the water when out with them. i can’t put percentage numbers to this but you’ll notice that the vast majority have less-than-desirable anchor/D placement. work on doing it better than them 😉

a loop too tight

too often touted as the ‘nec plus ultra’ in fly casting, the ultra-tight loop can sometimes have its disadvantages as seen in Niklas Erikson’s video below. the image isn’t of best quality but we can clearly see the arrow-point loop-face consecutively collapse and reform seven times by the time the line has fully turned over. (ok, it doesn’t turn over very well but hey, this is championship-level distance casting… :mrgreen: )
kidding aside, this is a fascinating example of loop propagation study. of special interest as well is watching the caster’s movements throughout the delivery stroke. that’s about as ‘Oooomph‘ as Oooomph gets.
be sure to watch it in full screen and HD. enjoy !

Fly Casting Physics: Casting Mechanics, What Do We Need To Know ?

the world of fly casting, and it’s subsequent contemporary research has by necessity (and thankfully) gone past the ‘touchy-feely’ to further understand and explain how all this actually works.
for sure, an angler doesn’t need all this to go out and have fun but the inquisitive fly angler will greatly benefit from having a few notions of basic physics because simply put and to reduce things to the core, everything about fly casting is about physics.
if anything, the article below will be of great benefit to understand how casting is explained throughout the different medias, books, articles, at shows or with instructors but also goes a long way in understanding the equipment we use: fly lines, rods, leaders, etc. non-neglidgable as well is this knowledge will also help sift through all the BS that’s randomly but unfortunately spewed right and left in so many ways on how fly casting works.

Mark Surtees, IFFF Master Certified Casting Instructor from England has kindly offered to share his wisdom with us here with what i personally consider to be a monumental reference work to be bookmarked and shared.  thanks Mark !

Mark Surtees TLC 15-10-13


There are parts of angling instructor examinations that require a candidate to have a basic understanding of casting mechanics.
What does this actually mean ?, What, after all, is Casting Mechanics ?
There seem to be as many interpretations of what constitutes casting mechanics, what makes a cast work, as there are authors, bloggers, magazine journalists, TV presenters or DVD producers out there in the Anglerverse.
In the world of the professional and the published, where cruel commercial reality dictates that personality and self promotion matters, differentiation from the rest is critical in order to sell the product, this is what puts bread on the table. So, no terms are quite the same, the explanations often in conflict, one with another, and there is an underlying, but perfectly natural, predilection to promote neat and highly personalised instructing techniques or concepts.
I think this is great…… I freely admit to the regular breach of the intellectual rights of these authors. I mercilessly steal and adapt teaching techniques and simple field fixes because they are better than any I can think up on my own.
But, if you look closely, some of these quick rules of thumb work by being pithily memorable rather than having any bearing on what may turn out to be inconveniently complex physical facts.
No-one disputes the benefits that can arise when we use these things from an instructional point of view. They can be a fantastically effective means of communicating a difficult concept and, in the hands of a good instructor, they are invaluable. However, being effective doesn’t make them “true”. They often turn up, on closer examination, to be completely at odds with what really happens in the world beyond the pages of the book in which they are written. Some, if published in more academic circles, might merit a Nobel nomination for the uncovering of entirely new and, no doubt very exciting, principles, which would turn the world of physics on its head.
Does this matter? Well, that’s up to you to answer…but it’s always mattered to me.
So, if we do decide to look beyond the one liners, how far do we go ?
Is there a limit on the things that an instructor should know about Classical Mechanics? When is enough, enough?
At what point does the subject become so complex that it becomes terminologically impenetrable for anyone but a trained physicist to understand?
For me at least, the simple answers are, in order…”its up to you”,.. ”no, not really”,… “don’t know” and “pretty quickly”.
Obviously, we set our own limits on our pursuit of knowledge, no-one is going to tell us when we have had enough. For most of us, who are untrained but nevertheless interested in these things, we set our own pace and plough through the arguments with a supplementary dip into the internet for explanations which in themselves can introduce confusion as a by-product of their generality. It is too abstract, out of context, mathematically testing and the unfamiliar terminology will trip us up early if we do not know how it even applies to the world about us, let alone how we might apply it to simple casts.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to ask direct questions of our better informed peers without appearing irredeemably stupid….almost no-one wants to be seen this way and so we don’t ask…the prospect of a highly public, id savaging polemic from an advanced theoretician is too much for the vulnerable soul of a simple instructor to take and, so, unravelling the terminological mystery of mechanics continues to elude us.
In order to try and help avoid these embarrassments, this is a basic glossary of terms with a vastly oversimplified explanation of what they mean and how they might relate to basic casting mechanics.
Most of the things we are going to look at have a “value”, they are quantifiable, calculable, measurable and they are often inter-related. Some relationships between terms can be represented by simple equations. In the case of the key relationships there is nothing of any challenging complexity, however, the connection between each term is explained in words so as to avoid the possible onset of an algebraic crisis.
For each term, its value is measured using an international system of units called SI Units. These units represent the amount of stuff something might have, a quantity. Where relevant I have put the SI units in but, mainly, I have left them out. I’ve started with “quantities”, gone on to “stuff” and then moved into “motion”
There are no equations anywhere…there are, however, some elephants.. If you can….please..

Some quantities can stand alone, a “Kilogram” or a “Meter” or a “Second” for example. Others require a combination to produce a more complex value such as “Meters per Second” or “Miles per Hour”. These sorts of quantities have a simple magnitude and are called “Scalar” values, basically they have scale.

Quantities with magnitude only.

Some quantities have an added element of direction. This implies that whatever scalar value this quantity has, its size… it’s going somewhere or it’s pointed somewhere. These are called “Vectors”.

Quantities with magnitude and direction.

Vectors give us a means of placing, or describing the movement of, an object in a three dimensional world and explain its direction of motion. They can also be used to indicate the direction of a force and thus the direction something will move under the influence of that force.
To demonstrate the difference between scalars and vectors we can use two other common, inter- related terms.

The distance travelled by an object over time.

For our purposes speed can be measured in Meters per Second, or Miles per Hour…or Meters per Hour or Miles per Second, whatever we want. We measure the Speed of Light, Speed of Sound, Cars, Rabbits etc. in terms of distance and time. Speed is Scalar, that is, it is just a quantity with magnitude, but, rightly or wrongly, it is often used interchangeably with…

The speed of an object and the direction in which it is travelling.

Velocity adds a direction to the scalar quantity Speed and so represents Meters per Second or Miles per Hour perhaps, but in an easterly direction or south or up or down or left or right or a combination of these sorts of things.
Velocity is a vector. Velocity is a term that will re-occur as we move on. It is used to describe rod tip velocities, line velocities, angular velocities, linear velocities, loop velocities.
When talking about velocities, or any other vectors, force vectors for example, you will often hear the term “Component”.
In most casting contexts components are simply used to represent the amount of “upness” or “forwardness” of something, by displaying it graphically and using the X or Y axes of the graph to measure it. Usually, the X axis is the horizontal axis and the Y axis is the vertical axis, so when you hear someone talking about the X component of a vector they mean how much it is travelling forwards or backwards and the Y component is how much it is travelling upwards or downwards. Combined, these two “components” form a “resultant” which is the actual direction of the object in motion or the direction of the force being applied.
Imagine you’re on an ice rink, one person is pushing on an elephant in the X direction, in Fig 1 this would be to to the right, while another person pushes on the same elephant in the Y, upward, direction. The resulting motion, if any, is exactly the same as single person pushing the elephant in the direction that is upward and to the right,… none probably but you get the idea I’m sure.
Figure 1 shows how the X and Y components of a vector can be added to generate a resultant vector.



What about the inherent properties of the things we are trying to describe? The rod, the line and the fly attached to the end.
First and foremost …all these things have Mass

The amount of stuff in an object, how much “matter” it contains.

For all practical purposes this value is most commonly equated with, and, even though strictly speaking it shouldn’t be, it is used interchangeably with Weight.
Mass is measured in SI Units of Kilograms and its sub divisions, it is Scalar.

Is a measurement of the mass of an object under the influence of gravity
Weight is the mass of a thing multiplied by the force of gravity.

It is very important to understand that when we are standing on the earth, or any other planet you can stand on, things fall down. No matter what other forces are influencing an object there is always a force pulling down on it, and we will look more on this later.
Because it has a direction, Weight, Mass times Gravity downwards, is a Vector Quantity. What of this terminological confusion between Mass and Weight?
Well, just as with Speed and Velocity, most of us make no real distinction between the two terms. Weight is properly measured in SI units of Newtons. Because most of us don’t leave the surface of the planet, the force of gravity is treated as constant and we don’t weigh ourselves, or beans, or rice or anything else in Newtons….we save these units for something else and we blur the distinction further by using the SI units for Mass, Kilograms etc, when we weigh something.
No non physicists use Newtons for weight, in fact no one I know, physicist or not, knows their weight in Newtons, though I dare say they could work it out….however, these units are not wasted and become more relevant later in this discussion.

Just as a matter of interest, more massive things like the earth have more gravity than less massive things like the moon but less gravity than even more massive things like the sun….in a non fishing context this explains why exceptionally large tie knots attract more fluff and airborne detritus than small ones… .
Anyway… This leads us to…

The mass of an object by volume.

For a given mass, the more space the mass occupies the lower its density, the less space for the same mass the higher the density.
It is differences in density that explain why a floating line floats and a sinking line sinks when they both have the same mass or weight. A #5 floater floats because it has less density than water, and a #5 sinker sinks because it is denser than water, even though the two lines weigh exactly the same.
As our lines get denser, for any given weight, the volume decreases and so too does the surface area. The less the surface area, the less water resistance the line will have and the quicker it will sink. Fly fishers call this the sink rate of the line.
(A physicist would call this the lines “terminal velocity in water”, but, if you speak to a physicist who fishes they will know what you mean when you say “sink rate”… in fact, anyone who uses “terminal velocity in water” instead, should, in all probability, be repeatedly hit with a heavy skillet until they agree to stop.)
Rods are tapered, this usually means that there is a regular reduction in mass towards the tip. Uneven or irregular mass through the taper may result in an odd action or tip wobble. This is usually referred to as Mass Distribution and is most commonly met with when discussing lines and line profiles.
We can see just by looking, that, for rods and lines, the mass and or density is not evenly distributed. A weight forward line has more mass towards the tip while a double taper has its mass evenly distributed for most of its length. A 5# floating line has less mass than a 7#.
We will see later that it is changes in mass and density, along with a few other simple concepts, that explain why a sink tip can kick like a mule, or a shooting head turns in to spaghetti, or a roll cast sometimes just won’t roll. The relationship between the mass in the line, the air or the water and the motion of the rod is often crucial to understanding how these things occur and how basic casts actually work.
Any object with mass has a ….

Centre of Mass
This is just like the centre of gravity.

In a sphere or a cube where mass is evenly distributed, the centre of mass is slap in the middle. Because we know that rods and line don’t have an even distribution of mass, the centre of mass isn’t necessarily going to be anywhere near the centre of the object. This is going to affect its balance, how it moves and how easily or difficult it is to actually move it.
In addition CoM is commonly used as a reference point for measuring purposes. When discussing forces and motions we can think of objects as being imaginary points, i.e. they have no size, so no matter where we push on the point object we are always pushing on its centre of mass.
Obviously, in real life, rods and lines are not imaginary points and we don’t always apply force directly against the centre of mass. In fact, we most commonly don’t, and, as a result, the rod may turn or twist in addition to moving away from the force we are applying.
If you know the relationship between an object’s centre of mass and any forces applied to the object you can determine if that thing will simply move away from the force in a straight line, turn, twist, or any combination of these things. We will talk about straight line motion as, “translation”, and turning through an angle as, “rotation”, later.
You can locate the centre of gravity of an object like a rod by finding the point that it balances on your finger. This is not so easy for a length of fly line…but it still has one..

Of course, things are never quite as simple as we would like, just describing the properties of an object isn’t enough.
Because we want to move these objects around, we have to take in to account certain rules that relate to getting an object to move from A to B. We have to get our rods and lines and flies moving and we may want to change the direction, or speed, that they are moving in once we have managed to get them in motion. If we are completely nuts, we also might want to be able to record or measure how we have made this movement happen so that we can repeat the process.
Three basic rules were outlined by Sir Isaac Newton approximately 325 years ago.
Just in case you’ve missed them, here they are… they are sometimes referred to as N1, N2, and N3. I have paraphrased Sir Isaac, he won’t mind I’m sure…

Newton’s Laws 1/2/3
1- An object will remain in motion, or not, at the same speed and in the same direction until acted upon by an external force.
2- Force equals mass times acceleration.
3- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Application of these very simple rules enables us to describe the processes involved in moving our rod and line.
Sir Isaac Newton should not be confused with Isaak Walton.
Isaak Walton was author of “The Complete Angler” and never mentioned Newtons rules mainly because he knew nothing about physics and he died before the other Isaac published his “Principia Mathematica” and this also probably why he never became an SI unit like Newton. (I would however like to recommend that forces used in angling contexts are from now on measured in SI units of “Waltons”.)
This disconnect between the great angling literature and basic mechanics has existed down the ages and whereas Isaak W..had a pretty good excuse on the basis of his prior demise…no-one else since can honestly play the same card…
Anyway, we can see from Rule One that nothing is going anywhere until we apply a force to it…

A pressure, a push or a pull, something which causes an object to move or deform.

A force, in a casting sense, is just something needed to make an object move. We apply a force to the rod, the rod applies a force to the line, and the line pulls the fly.
With objects that are elastic, a rod for example, a force is also necessary to make only part of that object move i.e. to deform it, like bending, and it is force that causes the line to stretch as we cast.
Forces are vectors, they have magnitude and direction and, like weight, are measured in Newtons too.
We know from experience that it’s not just any old force that is going to make an object move. Anyone who has tried to pull an elephant around an ice rink or push one out of the bathroom will know that it takes a lot of force to get it to move at all. How much force is dependent on the mass of the elephant, small elephants are easier to shift than large ones.
Based on the first rule, if an object is already in motion we need to apply a force to change its current speed or direction otherwise it will just carry on and that the more mass the object has, the more force we will need to apply to it to make it change its speed or direction.
This resistance to moving, or having a change in motion, is a property called…

The propensity of an object to resist a change in motion.

We already know from our experience of elephants in the ice rink that, when something is stationary we won’t be able to move it until we have applied a force big enough to overcome its inertia. This is not the same as overcoming friction or Gravity. Inertia is closely linked with mass, lots of mass, lots of inertia. We think of inertia usually in terms of things that are stationary and subject to other frictional and gravitational forces, but objects in motion also continue to have inertia. A rod or a line have the same inertia when they are moving as they did before you made them move and to change their speed or direction the force you apply must still be big enough to overcome that inertia. Of course the mass of a rod or line isn’t very big so you don’t need much force to overcome their inertia when they are moving…an elephant on the other hand is a different kettle of fish.
What we also know from Newton’s second rule is that, once we have overcome that inertia, if we continue to apply the same force then the object will accelerate.

The rate of change in velocity of an object.

We have to be a bit careful here because we are dealing with velocity and velocity has two elements, speed and direction. So, the force we apply can do one, or both, of two things. It can either change the object’s speed or it can change the object’s direction of motion. Either of these things would change the object’s velocity and so acceleration isn’t just about making something go faster, in physics an object undergoing a change of direction is also accelerating.
This is sometimes a bit difficult to grasp and it is further complicated by physicists referring to decelerations as negative accelerations. For the most part however, non physicists use acceleration when we are talking about increasing speed and deceleration when decreasing speed. It’s not right, technically speaking but it is what we mean.
If an object has mass and a velocity then it is said to have

The mass of an object times its velocity.

Momentum is about mass moving…a 5000kilo elephant in the bathroom has mass but no motion, so it has zero momentum. Because it is linked to velocity, momentum is a vector quantity, it has direction. Momentum is often confused with inertia but they are not at all the same thing.
A 5000kilo elephant shoved out of the bathroom at 10 miles per hour has a momentum of 5000kg x 10mph and is quite likely to be pretty hard to stop. Of course, if you get in the way of the elephant as it comes out of the bathroom it will, in turn, thanks to Newtons third rule, apply a force to you. Quite a big one probably, which will cause you too to either move, move and deform a bit, or, if you’re up against the opposite wall waiting your turn in the bathroom, deform quite a lot.
The more momentum an object has, the harder it is to slow it down. So, in the case of a fly line for example, the greater its momentum, the harder it is to stop and the farther it will go.
When discussing fly line trajectories, the fact that mass is commonly not distributed uniformly throughout the fly line means that the momentum of the fly line is not uniform either. For a given velocity, the parts of the fly line that have the most mass have more momentum than those with less mass and it takes more force to change their speed or direction.
This explains why the line doesn’t really follow the path of the rod tip, why a weight forward is easier to shoot than a Double Taper, the hinging effects of overhang, hooked line layouts, dangling leaders and the kick of heavy flies and sink tips as mentioned above and many other phenomena.
So, we have applied force to our line, overcome its inertia, accelerated it and it now has momentum…what stops the fly line carrying on indefinitely once we have stopped applying force to it?
If Newton’s first law is true then some sort of force or forces must be slowing it down and causing it to fall to the ground. The most obvious candidate is gravity. Gravity operates uniformly over the line and, irrespective of the magnitude of the line’s mass or forward velocity, left to its own devices, (which it isn’t, bear in mind we are holding one end up with the rod) it will all fall to the ground at the same rate. Obviously, the more velocity it has, the further it will go before it hits the deck. In this respect, if distance is your goal, velocity is king.
Also working on the line is air resistance, this is called…

The force exerted on an object in motion as a result of friction in air or water.

The greater the surface area of the thing in motion, the higher the drag will be as a result of friction. As velocity doubles the effect of drag quadruples – the higher the speed the greater the drag will be.
Also, the more line is in the air the greater the surface area and so the greater the drag.
However, remembering density, if we can squeeze the mass into less volume then we can reduce the surface area and thus reduce the drag. This is why a #5 sinking line will cast further than a #5 floating line… less drag.
Sometimes drag is referred to as “lift”. This is because drag opposes the force of gravity as an object falls to the ground. Since “drag” or “lift” increases with speed, something in freefall will continue to accelerate until its lift is equal in size to the force of gravity acting on it. At that point the object will have reached its “terminal velocity”. (It’s OK to use terminal velocity in this context so don’t reach for the skillet.)
Since there is more drag when an object falls through water than when it falls through air a sinking line will have a much higher terminal velocity in air than in water. This, if you are casting for distance for example, may have an effect on the trajectory you choose for your particular cast. A sinking line will go forwards faster than a floater because it is denser and has less drag but it will fall quicker because it has less lift and thus a higher terminal velocity in air than a floater.
You may have heard of Galileo’s experiment dropping cannon balls of different sizes from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In Galileo’s experiment the two cannon balls fell to the ground in exactly the same time. If he had replaced one of the balls with a feather he would have had an entirely different result.
Since drag is a result of friction with the medium the object is travelling through, would a feather fall at exactly the same rate as a hammer if dropped in a vacuum?
In fact, this experiment was demonstrated during the Apollo 15 moon mission and the hammer and feather did fall at exactly same rate. So, even if you are one of those who believe the Apollo missions were faked, you can take comfort in the fact that “they” must have built a massive vacuum chamber in order to also fake the hammer –feather drop experiment and so the money wrenched from the pay packets of hard working US taxpayers was spent in a way that genuinely represented real value for money….for people reading this in the US this must be a huge relief. (Sorry about the weight in Kilograms thing earlier too)
In this context, Drag is about the amount of surface in contact with the air or water, it is not the same as…

Form Drag
The force exerted on an object in motion in air as a result of its shape.

A ball with a given surface area will have less form drag than a cube with the same surface area simply because of its more aerodynamic shape. If Galileo had flattened one of his cannon balls out before dropping it he would have found that the differences in form drag would have changed the outcome of his experiment.
The line only has Momentum with which to work against the effect of drag….for a given mass, more velocity means more momentum, velocity is king…but sadly for the tournament casters, drag always wins in the end.
A fly line in motion is under…..

For our purposes tension is a force that attempts to stretch the fly line.

For tension to exist there has to be a force at one end and a resistance, or an opposing force, at the other end.
If you pull your finger it will go into tension. The tension in your finger will be uniform all the way from the end that you are pulling on, to the joint. This is because both ends of your finger are to all intents and purposes, fixed…this is not true of a fly line because only the rod end of the line is fixed (unless you’ve hooked a 5000 kilo elephant in your bathroom that is).
Discounting the effects of drag for the moment…, because only one end is fixed, we rely on the inertia of the line to oppose the force applied to the line at the rod tip, but, the mass and inertia become less and less as you approach the leader end…why is this we wonder ?
Imagine the line as a series of, let’s say, a thousand tiny interconnected balls and give each ball an equal mass. During a casting stroke the ball at the tip has to pull 999 balls along behind it, the next ball 998, the next 997 and so on until the last ball which is pulling on nothing but the fly and leader, so the tension on the last ball is 999 times less than the tension on the first. Basically, tension in the line is greater at the rod tip end than it is at the fly end and this fact will help us when we look at “waves” later.
For the moment let’s leave lines and look at the rod.
An ordinary single handed fly rod is both a spring and a lever. It is what is known as a “third class” lever which is, in this case, a device that goes faster at one end than the other and we use it to increase speed.
To make this happen we rotate the rod, as we do this the tip will travel a much greater distance than the butt in the same amount of time i.e., it has travelled faster.
We describe the motion of the rod in terms of…

The angular change in position of the rod.
The linear change in position of the rod.

To make the rod move we apply force to it at the butt end. To make the most of the lever effect, that is the magnification of velocity at the tip, this force needs to make the rod rotate. This is not a force which acts in a straight line, a linear force like the one needed to push the elephant out of the bathroom, or the tension in a straight fly line, this is a force which needs to act through an angle. This sort of angular force is called a torque.

An angular force, the force required to rotate an object.

A linear force, one which makes the rod translate and, an angular force, torque, one which makes the rod rotate can, and do, act on the rod at the same time. By combining these forces we are able to move the rod through a vast range of positions at various rates and it is the combination of these two simple processes that enable us to cast at all.
The use of our springy lever has the effect of converting the angular force, torque, applied by us at the butt into a linear one applied by the rod tip on the line.
Up to now we have used terms that are largely linear, the directions in vectors are unchanging. When rotations are involved, the directions in vectors change, the relationship between the x and y components changes constantly but the terms we use are very similar to those described above. If we are able to understand the terms as they apply to linear forces then it helps enormously when we try to deal with their rotational, or angular counterparts.
So from Velocity we can generate the term Angular Velocity.

Angular Velocity
The speed and direction of an object as it rotates.

In rotation, direction is measured relative to the axis or point about which the object rotates, e.g. clockwise, counter clockwise, positive or negative degrees per second. Speed is measured by the amount of arc travelled in a given time, e.g., degrees per second or revolutions per minute.
Changes in Angular Velocity are Angular Accelerations.

Angular Acceleration
The rate of change of angular velocity.

Because we are using a flexible lever, it gets lively with this one. If the rod were to be completely stiff then the rate of acceleration at the butt of the rod would be the same as the rate of acceleration at the tip. Even though the tip is travelling faster than the butt, the rate of change is the same, as the speed at the butt doubles, the speed of the tip doubles.
The rod isn’t completely stiff though, it bends when we apply force at the butt as we try to overcome the inertia of the line and the inertia of the rod itself. This means that even if the acceleration at the butt is constant the acceleration at the tip won’t be. If the rod has inertia which is its resistance to changes in linear motion then it also has a resistance to angular motion. If we were being consistent, this should be called Angular Inertia but it isn’t.. it’s called…

Moment of Inertia
The propensity of an object to resist a change in angular motion.

The mass distribution in the rod will determine how hard or how difficult it is to rotate it.
A rod doesn’t just act as a lever, it also operates as a kind of spring.
There are a huge number of reasons why a springy rod is easier to use than a rigid one which we won’t go into here, but, springy things have unique properties too and act in a regular and predictable way.
Springiness, that is, the way that the rod bends and unbends is a function of the properties of the material that it is made from and how that material is distributed through the rod.
The relevant material properties are described by using…

A quantity that numerically expresses the degree to which a substance possesses a property, such as…

Modulus of Elasticity
Modulus of elasticity is commonly used to refer to stiffness in fishing rods, it is the property of a material that describes how much it deforms and how it recovers from a deformation to its original state, its “elasticity”, so, the higher the modulus, the stiffer the material.
Elastic or springy things have been studied for centuries and one of the basic relationships is described by…

Hookes Law
In a spring, or elastic material, the extension of the spring, is proportional to the load.

So, for a rod, when it behaves as a spring, the bigger the load the more it will bend. This seems very obvious, but what, in physics terms, is a load…?

The forces that are working on the rod.

Load is commonly associated with the bend in the rod due to the weight of the line that we are trying to move and there is nothing inherently wrong in looking at things in this way. But it is also related to the other forces at work on the rod. The amount of torque and how we apply it at the butt will also influence how the rod bends.
The weight of the rod itself and the mass profile of its taper, its moment of inertia, its surface area and the effects of drag all influence the way the rod behaves when it is in motion.
Where there are multiple forces at work like this we can add them all together using the term…

Net Force
The sum of all the forces acting on an object.

This is like the resultant force we described earlier. Since force is a vector quantity we can sum all the forces acting on an object to determine the net force. In turn, this tells us which direction all of the individual forces acting on an object will tend to move the object. For example, if we look at the line the net force acting on it will be a combination of forces applied by the rod tip, gravity, and those caused by air resistance.
By the nature of springs they have a propensity to boing, that is, the load forces the spring to extend and then the spring boings back to its original shape and so on, there’s a whole lot of boinging going on here. And, if it needs a force to make it extend then it must also need a force to make it go back to its original state, this force is called a…
Restoring Force
In a spring or elastic material it is the force that works to return the spring or material to a state of equilibrium.
Since we have introduced the topics of tension and restoring forces it might be a good time to talk about waves

A wave is a disturbance that travels through a medium and transports energy from one place to another without moving the medium itself.

As the wave travels through the medium there is some displacement of the medium but the medium returns to its original position after the wave passes by.
If we drop a pebble in to the centre of a pool we create waves on the surface of the pool. The waves transfer the energy from the falling pebble to the edge of the pool. Obviously, the water from the centre of the pool does not end up piled along the sides of the pool so we know that, although we can see the
waves moving the water up and down, the water itself does not move laterally with the waves. As the wave moves the water is initially displaced upwards and then restored downwards to its original state.
When a wave travels through a medium in one direction and causes the medium to be displaced sideways or upwards or downwards the wave is called a transverse wave. Examples of transverse waves can be seen when we cast, in tailing loops, some types of mend and the irritating wobbles we occasionally get in the rod leg of the line.
If the medium is displaced in same direction that the wave is travelling then the wave is called a longitudinal or compression wave. For an example of a compression wave simply listen for that bead or fluff whipping past your head…sound is made of compression waves.
At this point you are no doubt wondering what tension or restoring forces have to do with waves.
If you have a guitar handy, pluck a string. You will hear a certain note. It doesn’t matter how hard or soft you pluck the string you will always hear the same note.
What do we have to do to get it to make a different note? The answer is to adjust the tension. By turning the tuning peg for the string we change the amount of force being applied to the string and this changes the tension on the string. Add more force and the tension increases and the note becomes higher because the wave moves faster. Reduce the tension and we get a lower note because the wave moves slower. Remove all tension and we hear nothing. Waves simply won’t travel along the string any more. Pluck the string and it just stays plucked. The wave just stays where it is. We have removed the tension and this removes the restoring force.
Why does this matter ?
Well, if you remember the discussion on tension in the fly line, there is more tension at the tip end than the fly end. We know that the greater the tension we have on a line the faster a wave will travel along the line. And without tension there is no restoring force to bring the material the wave is travelling through back to its original position.
So, a wave in a fly line will travel fast at the beginning and slow down as it approaches the fly end. Here it is now going so slowly, or the restoring force is so weak, that it can appear to get stuck. This is a wave that can collide with the rod leg during a casting stroke and produce the classic tailing loop.
That’s enough about waves for now. Let’s get back to our discussion on forces…
So, what do we want all these forces to do? Essentially we want them to do work to the line and the fly to get these things from one place to another. In physics work has a particular meaning…

Work is force applied to an object, times the distance over which the force is applied.

This term is closely linked with another….

Impulse is force applied to an object, times the time over which the force is applied.

Between them, these two concepts are crucial for understanding how we manage the variables, force, time and distance, to make the most basic of casts function in our favour.
Interestingly, work is measured in SI units of Joules. Joules are also used to measure energy and so work can also be used to describe the change of energy in an object. So, notwithstanding the effects of drag, we can work out the velocity of an object if we know what its initial energy level was and how much work we have done to it.
Managing the three variables using the concepts of work and impulse, we can say that a high force applied over a short distance, i.e., in a short time, will have the same final result as a low force applied over a long distance, i.e., a long time. In a casting situation we choose how we will mix this up to achieve the desired line velocity that we believe we need for the circumstances we find ourselves in or just to fit our own biomechanical preferences.
We briefly touched on energy as we looked at the concept of work. In this context we can look at energy as the ability of a thing, in quantitative terms, to do work on another thing. Energy is most commonly described in two forms…

Potential Energy
Energy stored in an object.

A rod that is bent has potential energy or PE, stored energy, and has a capacity to do work on the line. When that energy is released it is converted into….

Kinetic Energy
The energy of an object in motion.

Also called KE by people who have a hard time spelling, or saying, kinetic. The energy of the line when it is in motion for example. This is the stored energy being used.
We often talk about the combination of Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy as Total Energy.

Total Energy
The combined kinetic energy and potential energy of an object.

Most people can spell total so total energy is never referred to as TE. Usually totally energy is just referred to by physicists and clubbers alike as E.
Energy is said to be “conserved”, that is..

Conservation of Energy
In a closed system energy in = energy out.

A closed system is a construct used for analyzing interactions between objects and forces. In a closed system the amount of stuff or matter within it does not change. And, similarly, in a closed system, energy is neither created nor destroyed ie it is conserved.
If we are juggling elephants, as we throw our elephant in to the air we give it a certain kinetic energy. As is rises it goes slower and loses kinetic energy. The amount of kinetic energy lost is identical to the amount of potential energy it gains as its height increases. As the elephant peaks and begins to fall the potential energy is again converted to kinetic energy and by the time it reaches our hand again, it is going the same speed at which it left.
Whilst we are elephant juggling away in our closed system there is another property that we met earlier also being conserved…

Conservation of Momentum
In a closed system momentum is conserved.

A familiar example of this is Newton’s cradle. When two objects collide and bounce off each other, the momentum lost by one of the objects will be precisely equal in magnitude, but opposite in direction, to the momentum gained by the other object.
This has, historically, been used to explain the phenomena of a fly leg appearing to speed up toward the end of the cast but the jury is definitely out on that one. So, as a lay person, I think it’s best to watch the argument unfold slightly away from the bathroom door…just in case I get involved in conserving the momentum of a rapidly moving, entirely metaphorical, elephant.




As I re-read these things, garbled as it all seems, I wonder if it is particularly useful, from an instructional point of view, to be anything other than dimly aware that these concepts even exist.
After all, no-one is going to be explaining to a complete novice the concept of conservation of momentum or the value of KE in a line with a non uniform, mass distribution. In fact it is massively unlikely that they would be discussed with anyone other than like minded instructors.
However, for an examination candidate to express themselves properly and correctly to questions that might arise on these matters, they must have a clear grip on the basic terms and how they fit together to explain how a cast actually works without resort to those pithy one liners that we mentioned in the intro. Having said this, I still frequently use these teaching tools myself but, where necessary, I amend them in order to better fit the facts.
To do this properly I have tried myself to understand the relationships between Force and Work, Levers and Springs, Speed and Velocity, Momentum and Inertia and the choices made by us, the casters, in how we manipulate and manage them to our advantage because, without us, nothing happens at all.
Just for the record, I am no physicist and it has never crossed my mind to actually work out the values associated with these things on a cast by cast basis. From a teaching perspective I can see no useful purpose in trying.
There are others out there, however, for whom this quantitative analysis is a source of constant fascination…sadly, perhaps, it is not for me.
Thanks, Mark

© Mark Surtees

NOTE- originally published Oct. 15 2013, this article has since been revised by Mark Surtees: curent version Nov. 11 2016

“And who would have thought that analyzing fly casting could be so sexy ?”

for more on this most informative instrument of torture created to make fly casters go crazy and weep from ineptitude yet not-so-sexy thingy devised by the brilliant yet cruel minds of Bruce Richards and Dr. Noel Perkins click here- CASTANALYSIS

Fly Casting: Analyzing Straight Line Rod Tip Path and Shoulder-Elbow-Wrist Paths during the Stroke

here’s a more than interesting set of video-still overlay images of some of the World’s top distance casters created by Dirk le Roux who graciously accepted  to share his findings here. this is a real treat for anyone interested in fly casting mechanics. as mentioned below, this was a study on the final ‘up’ lift of the wrist common to many casters but it tells us a lot more than that.

“Watching video on distance casters I’ve been intrigued that often a seemingly small down-up flick of the wrist could be seen right around final rotation on the forward cast. Sometimes more like just an “up”. Thing is it’s hard to get a handle on what’s happening just by watching, even in slow motion. Trying to analyse that I started tracing the arm configuration and spline path of the wrist, and while I was at it also the elbow and shoulder paths, at various intervals of various casts.

A bit of explanation first
• The red and blue hopperleg graphs are back and forward positions respectively
• The spline* paths are generally: lower one the elbow, middle one shoulder and top one the wrist trace, except in Paul’s case.. 
• You can see which part of the spline paths are back or forward by checking which of the blue or red hopper-legs they correlate with
• I included wrist angles also (show rotation timing)
• All the figures containing interrupted line hopper-legs have been taken at exactly regular intervals, with the interrupted positions in between the regular solid line ones. From this some idea of speed at certain stages can be gleaned”

*  (spline curve ) a continuous curve constructed so as to pass through a given set of points and have a certain number of continuous derivatives.

Lasse Karlsson
Lasse Karlsson
Lasse Karlsson
Lasse Karlsson
Steve Rajeff
Steve Rajeff

rajeff 2

Paul Arden
Paul Arden
Paul Arden - Wrist Path
Paul Arden – Wrist Path
Bart De Zwaan
Bart De Zwaan
Bart De Zwaan
Bart De Zwaan
Fredrik Hedman
Fredrik Hedman
Stefan Siikavaara
Stefan Siikavaara

and maybe what it’s mostly telling us is no two people cast the same despite what we might think…
thanks Dirk !

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romanticized mathematics


source unknown, author ‘Barnes’

i have the feeling this was written a while ago. i would love to read what Barnes came up with but then, maybe a lot of the romance would have lost it’s way between all those numbers