Fly Casting with Laura Palmer


~ Ein Laura Palmer film~ presumably named after everyone’s favourite girl-in-a-bag -at least that’s my guess- well, caught my attention. whether it has to do with an inexplicable interest in like-minded producers what give weird titles to their stuff combined with a good dose of fly casting… i’m happily digressing just to get to this: here’s a really nice, short and sweet video of Wolfgang Heusserer demonstrating an equally nice variety of single-hand spey casts.
Circle-C, Snap-T, Jump Roll/Switch cast, standard roll cast, wiggles and probably fourteen others i missed because i was too busy watching the line being first manipulated, then flying about. all the great presentation skills a river fisher should imo, have down pat.

not a how-to tutorial, this one’s just eye candy. more than the line dancing itself, we’ll notice how effortlessly every action is done. it looks easy and that easy is a sign of someone who’s worked a lot on their skill. i hope you’ll enjoy.

Fly Casting- Drawing a Fish

graciously sent in by London-based casting colleague Alex Titov, here’s some lovely fly line art in the form of a fish.
fly fishing, there’s so much more to it than simply catching…

Alex Titov 'drawing a fish' 27-1-16_edit
thanks Alex !

Fly Casting- Explaining the Double Haul

by Stefan Siikavaara

originally written in 2009, here’s an interesting approach on the subject that stands up well to time. intended for casting instructors, this ‘frame of mind’ or maybe ‘perspective shift’ should be of  interest for fly anglers of all levels.

when talking about or teaching the Double Haul we tend to simply say “it speeds up the line” and often just leave it at that. Stefan digs a little deeper and i thank him for it.

“You want to keep it simple while teaching, but this is sometimes easier said than done. While teaching you sometime get really tough questions from your students. I’ll give you an example: I’ve been asked a few times about what the doublehaul does to your cast

When I get this question all sorts of things go through my head. I am thinking about what I read in Mac Brown’s excellent book, Casting Angles. The haul is a necessity to master because it enables the caster to conserve energy throughout the fly cast. It entails putting all the various casting fundamentals together for a cumulative effect of attaining higher line velocity on the stream. The line hand pulls on the line. This causes the rod flex to increase which leads to greater rod deflection.

I am also thinking about a great essay in physics that doctor Grunde Løvoll published a while ago. Mr Løvoll’s findings show that the catapult effect, the actual unbending of the rod only equates to about 10% of the total line speed in a cast.

Among the other things that go through my head are a few of the traditional views of the double haul. That it increases the bend of the rod and that it also reduces slack line in the cast.

I am tempted to answer all of this. But as you already figured out, these explanations question each other. On some points they even contradict each other. And most importantly, handing this big package over to my student is not simple enough; therefore it is not good enough.

Let’s have has closer look at them. My conclusion of Mac Brown’s explanation joined with Løvoll’s findings is that the haul gives additional speed directly to the line. I like it, let’s leave it at that.

If I would go for the traditional view of the haul reducing slack in the cast I would risk planting a casting fault in my students head. Why is that you ask? Well, if there is slack in the line it would most likely manifest itself the most early in the cast, while the loop is unfurling or after the line has turned over. The idea of using the haul to reduce slack would incite starting the haul early. Well, if I start the haul early I risk finishing it too soon. And what would that give me? I run a considerable risk of adding a tailing loop to my students cast with that explanation.

So, all these things buzzing in my head and the student still waiting for an answer to his question: What does the double-haul do to my cast?

So what do I say? Do I go for the technical explanation or do I go for a traditional description? This student had not read all the literature and joined in on all the threads on the internet boards. He just wanted to brush up his casting for hunting seatrout down the Swedish coast.

No, instead I’ll choose an explanation by Lefty Kreh that I think sums them up: The line hand is the accelerator. You drive your car, you shift gears and you press the accelerator. You start your stroke, you speed up and then you haul.

Being able to abstract and condense a huge amount of information and different theories into a short and simple answer proves that you really know your stuff. Read everything, evaluate everything and learn from it all. But keep your explanations clean and simple. The mark of a great teacher as the late Mel Krieger is to make complex things simple. Use few words, use your body language, use examples that your student can relate to. Keep it simple.”

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…

how cool is this ?

fly casting finess cover

needles to say, it is an enormous honour to have TLC‘s fly casting reference page mentioned in this recent book by John L. Field !

funny thing, and i sincerely hope you’ll pardon my ignorance, John…  is until now i’ve never heard of this gentleman but that’s all about to change as i just downloaded the book through Amazon/Kindle and it’s coming with me on a short trip in the higher Pyrenees tomorrow where i’ll be not only reading in the shade, hiding from the heat wave we’re currently going through if the fishing is slow but also trying out an absolutely fantastic small-stream jewel of a 6′ 3wt Superfast bamboo rod hand made by Monsieur Hulot umm, Luke Banister lent for review along with a too-nice-for-me hand-made wooden scoop net by Mark Leggett of Alternative Tackle just last week in Cumbria, England.

there’s a real home-mattress in the back of the fish-van and chocolate and coffee is packed: this should be fun.

fly casting finesse reference

click either image to access Skyhorse Publishing’s page for more info on John’s book.
and a big thanks for the heads-up on all this to buddy Will Shaw !

Spey Casting from the angler’s Point of View

some really nice footage from T.A. for us to enjoy and analyse today.

filmed both in real time with supplemental slomo for each type of cast, this little film gives us the opportunity to observe a pretty wide range of casts as if we where the caster.
sure, this is pretty close to how we all see it as we’re performing them but it’s really hard to say, have the global view that a wide-angle video camera can give because we tend to focus our attention on one single element in sequence: line lift, anchor placement, swing trajectory and timing, rod reversal and forward stroke and this is where video shines as we can easily pause, rewind, fast-forward and inspect all these elements one by one.

apart from the nifty line-dancing casting as added bonuses we’ll also notice that contrary to aerial mends, on-the-water mends don’t really have much of an effect on the fly line body or head itself (and leader and fly) but only on the running/shooting line.
also highlighted, the annoying fact that shooting/running line just loves to wrap itself uncontrollably around the rod just below the stripping guide when shooting line when we completely let it go…

it’s all good, enjoy !

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- The next Level ?

as the Advanced Fly Casting Demonstration title alludes to, is this advanced casting or not ? well, yes and no. let’s start with the no.

the no-casters will be quick to point out that all this fiddly-fancy rod waving is completely unnecessary; its just ‘trick casting’ to impress the peanut gallery which would probably scare off fish anyhow.
fine. assuming that the angler has decent control of their rod/line/leader/fly combo and can place the fly to the intended target with reasonable regularity, then that’s probably good enough for them. after all, a good chocolate cake doesn’t really need a scoop of ice cream or sauce to make the cake any better does it ?

well, i’m the kind that likes good ice cream and good sauce on good chocolate cake. they enhance the experience, offer a variety of tastes with the overall result of having a more complete dessert. ditto for fly casting.
now, i know very well that all this extra fiddly-fancy rod waving in itself isn’t going to lead to any more landed fish and to be honest, i’ll refrain from doing all this excessive stuff when actually fishing but !, its all going to make me a more efficient caster if i know how to do it at practice time plus, its a lot of fun and fun makes casting sessions a lot more productive than doing simple, basic movements over and over again.
but why ? casting as Klaus displays in the video needs a highly developed sense of spacial and temporal awareness and the ability to act/move very precisely on several planes in sequence with different rhythms and speeds all the while controlling varying degrees of slack in the line. in real-world situations, these capabilities allow the caster to improvise in real time, a little plus considering all the continually changing variables that happen when we fish.
this is hard-core multi-dimensional traverse wave casting and one that needs visualisation before and during the casts to not mess up ! very much akin to Zen-like activities, in a sense, movement needs to happen before thought or maybe more precisely, movements need to happen based on pre-visualisation and not a more ‘traditional’ step-by-step as-it-happens method. i don’t know if that makes sense but i can’t find a better way to describe it with words.

so, is this Advanced Fly Casting ? you bet ! but when/if acquired, we can consider it a hidden skill set that pops up when needed most, when situations get tricky and we still want to stay in the game while pleasing one’s self and not the peanut gallery. whether we chose or not to get to this level is a personal choice and most definitely non-necessary. at worst its eye candy but its a lovely candy that won’t make us fat like the ice cream, sauce and cake… enjoy !

Rod Cam: a medley of Spey casts from the rod’s perspective

nifty to watch and quite informative if we’re interested in seeing how rod blanks behave when they’re at work.
with a variety of casts such as the Double Spey, Snap T and Snake Rolls, we’ll also get to relive the beautiful, angelic symphonyish sound of a loop-to-loop connection being pulled into the rod guides. its all good, enjoy !


Ambidextrous Double Hand Casting

some super-nice advice, tips and a casting drill to get you off on the good hand when it’s time to cast off the non-dominant shoulder by Hywel Morgan via Fieldsports Channel
primarily based on double-hand casting, its not too hard to figure out that the very same exercise will be just as effective and beneficial with a single-hand rod.
like i always say, its pretty rare to see someone poke their eye out or stick the fork in their ear when they eat with their non-dominant hand meaning, that unless the person has serious motor skill issues fly casting with either hand is just a matter of getting over the mental ‘ican’t do it’ block and simply practicing a little. most of us are blessed with having two arms and hands, why not be a Ninja and learn to use them both ?

J.P.’s Single Spey

J.P. asked me to help him out with his double-hand casting in preparation for a salmon trip to Russia. being the sporty type (rugby), he’s quite in tune with how his body works but for us casting instructors, we know that the brain-order/body-movement correlation can be a long process… and sometimes not.
here’s his upstream, non-dominant hand-up Single Spey after ten minutes of explanations and demonstrations of what is generally considered the most difficult of Spey casts. sure, there’s a few things to smooth out and work on but he’s ready to safely fish.
as my UK mates say, i’m properly chuffed and very much look forward to seeing the progress he’s made since. casting instruction days are always a treat and this one was one of the treatiest.

JP SingleSpey beginnings