Getting lost in Mr Hardy’s lost World

if like me you’re a little befuddled by the present and consterned we can’t go into the future, then maybe a little trip in the past might do the trick and balance things out.
at one hour and thirty-seven minutes long, be sure to set aside the time to see it in full, it’s a nice place to get lost. enjoy !

Fly Casting- The Wiggle / Horizontal Hump / Fly Dryer Pick Up

as the title suggests, this technique has several names but in my heart it’s the Wiggle and since i like things that wiggle… i’ll stay with the jiggly moniker !

just as in Pavel Kupstov‘s description and super-excellent video below, its main purpose is to easily and very quickly shake/fling off water from a waterlogged dry fly or emerger during the backcast lift without having to bring the fly back to dry and/or treat it with more floatant or powder.
as we’ll see in the slow-to-fast sequences in the video, the Wiggle sheds most if not all residual water on one single backcast enabling the angler to complete the cast and present the fly with one p/u and lay down instead of having to whip the line back and forth, false casting to get the same result.

how does it work ? just as with a standard casting loop, most of the water is shed when the fly goes from one direction to its opposite direction (back to front/front to back) but in this case, there’s a whole lot of direction changes before going into the actual backcast loop and this latter one finishes flinging off whatever water was left. pretty ingenious when you think about it.

the Wiggle also sheds water from the leader and fly line, something that will greatly help when using a silk or textured line and furled or braided leaders but ‘standard’ mono leaders and plastic fly lines aren’t immune to ‘water retention’ either.
in both cases, fly and line(s) won’t be spraying fish-spooking residual water droplets upon presentation, something to keep in mind in slower flowing pools or stillwater.

as for this pick up’s history and other names, i have no idea if other authors have talked about this p/u method previously but Joan Wulff writes about it in Fly Casting Techniques and Jason Borger in Nature of Fly Casting.
Joan calls it Horizontal Humps and Jason, Wiggle Pick Up. i might have missed it but interestingly, neither one mentions the p/u’s fly-drying attributes as its described as a way to effectively pick up fly and line from vertically oriented snaggies like grass and brush without, well, snagging them so there you go, yet another reason to add this technique to your bag of tricks.

as for how-to’s, wiggling is pretty straightforward but i always advise to start off the lift with the arm extended, rod tip pointed directly at the fly and start wiggling as you’re drawing the elbow back towards you whilst lifting the rod tip and then going into the backcast propper. this avoids ‘running out of casting arc’, leaves more space and time to get it all done correctly and smoothly and generally leads to a better backcast loop. Pavel’s one of the finest casters there is and despite that we’ll see backcast loops that aren’t picture-perfect but that’s not important as long as we don’t lose control of the line and flop it around.

last note: in her same Pick Ups chapter Joan also writes about a variant; Vertical Humps. basically the same thing but instead of wiggling (humping?) left and right, the waves are created by jiggling the rod tip down and up during the lift and since it doesn’t really matter which plane the waves are going, there’s yet another option for you.

there might be more but i can only think of one potential minorly negative aspect: all that spray goes straight towards the caster but then humping usually involves some kind of, ehhhh, nevermind….

Fly Casting with Laura Palmer

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.

Once you’re finished sucking out the marrow

you can go all DIY and carve your very own EDC BoneFishing rod ! coming out soon will be a carbon-reinforced sinew reel to complete this outstanding outfit, until then, let’s enjoy something quite novel.

ps- note the complete absence of bone loading yet very nice and tight loops. it kinda makes one wonder why loading and unloading a fly rod is so often referred to as the end-all in fly casting.

Fly Casting- the Vertical Hoop drill

a lot of fly casting practise involves using rings, a hoop or any other object placed on the ground. this teaches us target distance acquisition and of course, accuracy.
the next step up from there is placing that hoop or something similar vertically and casting through it. (in her fantastic book Fly Casting Techniques, Joan Wulff offered the idea of casting through a car window and later varying the opening of that window by making it go up or down) this vertically-oriented target, or rather ‘loop passage space’ adds loop size to the previous learned skills.

what’s the point ? apart from variety, fun and a nice game to play with other casting nerds, learning to control loop size is really important when casting into the wind because a small loop takes up a lot less physical space and is less influenced by wind. casting into the wind needs a higher line speed as well and we can just add the extra line speed drill to the ‘through the hoop’ exercise.

the other very obvious reason is when having to cast with obstacles either in front of us or behind. those obstacles will vary greatly but maybe the most common are trees and their branches as in the pic below.'between the branches m.fauvet-TLC 11-2-16
this was a while back in deepest-darkest Sweden and if memory’s correct, the only available back casting space i had was a little tunnel about 1 metre and a half wide. i put this pic here as a reminder of how important it is to do the hoop drill on the back cast as well as in front. it goes without saying that turning around and aiming for the empty space is the only way this is going to happen with success.

 

this great little clip from Chris Morris shows the hoop drill in both real time and slomo. variances of the drill could be varying the casting distances, how much line is shot through the hoop, side casting with loops at various angles and when you get good at this, casting at an angle instead of straight on. (the hoop’s height remains the same but its width ‘ovals’ and narrows, for lack of a better physics term) that one’s tricky !

practise never really makes perfect but it always makes gooder so here’s hoping this will inspire a few to do just that. enjoy !

Presentation Casts- DownStream Dry Fly

here’s another great presentation casting tip from Aitor Coteron.

along the lines of Jason Borger‘s downstream presentation ‘Undercut Drop’ (see diagram) and similar in concept as Jim William’s upstream ‘Pull-back-Slack‘, Aitor’s videos show us a super-easy way to get better drag-less drifts.
the common denominator casting-wise is these casts are all based on the same principles and casters of all levels can rejoice because there’s no need to learn and practice any fancy twists, curves, unreliable and wind-dependant tricky piles or wiggles either during-or-after-the-cast movements.
the bonus here is these casts are real, effective fishing casts of great value to any fisher: bread and butter stuff we can consistently rely on and not some iffy maybe-may or maybe-not presentation. in other words, the simpler the better.
everyone who knows me knows how much i love fiddly, curvy casts. outside of the fun factor, i firmly believe it make us better casters because we need to get creative and try to deal with several exterior elements like wind or body movement inconsistencies or whatever else you’d care to add but as more time goes by i try to get the same results in simpler, more easily repeatable manners and today’s videos are super-fine examples of just that kind of practical/effective reductionism.

Jason Borger ffw-undercutdrop

with either one we’ll want to:
– cast directly in line with the current. this is the key to making these casts work and means the angler needs to position themselves in the seam or just to the side of the lane to be fished prior to presenting.
in river fishing we’ll almost always have micro currents to deal with but the big nasty drag issues happen when we have to cast across conflicting currents and the most difficult part of dealing with drag is eliminated, or at least greatly reduced when the fly line and current seam are the same. it just makes sense.
– as previously mentioned, cast straight to the target and the best part about that is just about any fly angler already has that skill down pat. the only thing to keep in mind and as in any other slack line cast, we’ll need to plan the use of more line than when presenting ‘straight to the rise’.
– last somewhat denominator (but i’ll still put them in the same cast family because all rod tip mend movements are basically vertical) is all three casts require either keeping the rod tip high, where it stopped at the ‘stop’, (Jason’s Drop), or drop the rod tip (Jim’s Drop and Pull-Back) or Zeljko’s ‘Drag-Back’ after the ‘stop’ and before line touch-down.

“Very conflicting currents, like those shown here, are a killer for fishing the dry fly with an upstream presentation. Using a downstream approach (when conditions allow it) leads to incredibly long drag-free drifts. Master fly fisher Zeljko Prpic shows how to do it right.” and he sure does… enjoy !

 

and a variant with the very same ‘in-the-seam’ presentation as above but using a reach mend, rather handy when getting into the seam is difficult to wade to or off of the bank.
one last thing, the video says dry fly but this’ll work just as well with whatever fly you have tied on, wet, nymph or dry.

 
ps- Jason’s blog Fish, Flies and Water is currently under reconstruction but be sure to check it out regularly if you don’t want to miss out on the good stuff and, if you’re not familiar with Aitor’s blog One More Last Cast, you should be…

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- Casting by hand

although very cool to watch, casting fly lines by hand (without a rod) isn’t anything new. i’m not sure they where the first to develop this but Lee and Joan Wulff wrote about it eons ago and if i remember correctly, they got the idea of trying this out when they ended up stream side one day and realised that even though they had their reels, lines, flies and other stuff, they hadn’t packed their rods ! it saved the day, they caught fish, probably had quite a few laughs along the way all the while coming up with an ingenious learning/teaching method that’s as good now as ever because by removing the rod and forgetting about the all-too overly emphasised ‘loading the rod’ mantra from the equation and focussing on moving the line which is the whole point of fly casting, we either instantly or very quickly understand just about everything there is to understand about line tension, casting rhythm/pause, force application, straight line path, stroke length and forming loops (in other words, Bill and Jay Gammel’s Five Essentials of Fly Casting) and all that with just a simple piece of yarn or thickish string.

today’s video via allcastcomp (i don’t know the fellow’s name. if you do please leave a comment below, thanks !) is in two parts.
in the second, our mystery cowboy explains and demonstrates some really nice hand-only line control and accuracy and in part one, and the part i find the most interesting teaching-wise is the concept of getting people, specially beginners but something a lot of us could benefit from as well, to do exactly as explained in the video and mentioned above and learn or relearn to do all the moves without a rod.
in the same sense as pantomiming teaches our body to easily repeat a movement, casting a short length of line by hand will not only get us familiar with that movement but we’ll get instant feedback on our results and those results don’t lie. in my eyes, this kind of no-nonsense and ultra-simplified teaching and learning is simply brilliant as the caster can only get better when they put that rod together and string it up.

i have no idea if he fly fished or even considered such seemingly menial things as playing with strings but if he had, i’m sure George Orwell would have said “Triple plus Good”. enjoy !

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- Throw Away your Watch !

or (Where to Stop the Rod)

as we’ve already seen in Jay and Bill Gammel’s The Five Essentials:
4. The length of the stroke must vary with the amount of line past the rod tip.
“If you are casting a short line you will need a short stroke to move the rod tip along a straight line. If you are casting a longer line the extra weight causes the rod to bend much deeper, and a longer stroke is necessary to keep the rod tip moving in a straight line.” or to make it even simpler- Short line, short stroke – Long line, long stroke.
here, Chris Myers explains and demonstrates this principle very well.

keep that in mind at all times and you’ll pretty much have this ‘Where to Stop the Rod’ business down pat without having to resort to some nonsensical watch face (which hardly if ever works in the real world anyway).
people usually know where 9, 12 and 3 o’clock are, that is, if they don’t invert the 3 and 9… but are typically wrong by at least a half hour and usually a full hour or more if you ask them to point at a given time when compared to a real watch face. i’ve done this experiment many times with a clock face printed on a clear sheet of plastic which i could look through and superimpose both the caster and the clock face. i’ve never kept precise results but at least 90% where off by at least a half hour. that probably doesn’t sound like it would make a big difference in the real world but if this half or full hour (or more !) are off when casting we end up with either a casting stroke that’s too short or too long and it might even tilt the casting plane up or down instead of the intended angle.

now, as fine and unquestionable as the Gammel’s number 4 rule is, there’s still something missing and that has to do with casting tempo/rhythm/cadence/speed. let’s take the example of 30ft of line carried with nicely controlled 3′ loops.
with the same fixed length of line we’ll have a much shorter casting arc and stroke if we’re casting slowly than if we’re casting the exact same 3′ loops with a faster tempo as it needs a longer stroke to avoid having problems.
so, to complete no. 4 we should add Slow cast, Shorter stroke – Faster cast, Longer stroke.

after reading this the beginner might be thinking, “great, it used to be more or less simple and now i have to figure out and combine two principles to get this ‘stopping’ stuff sorted ?.. “ but don’t fret ! because the solution is very simple.
as Chris explains in the video above, simply watch what the line’s doing and adjust from there.
– if the loops are too big, reduce the stroke length.
– loops too small or even colliding, lengthen the stroke.
– if you’re casting faster or slower than usual, lengthen or shorten the stroke accordingly.
– what works for me and what i teach is the stroke (by that i mean the rod tip’s travel) is simply a straight line that gets shorter or longer: ‘more or less’ or changes speed: ‘slower or faster’
its simple, everyone understands this and it doesn’t need a watch to get right. besides, who wants to worry about the time when we’re out by the water ?

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.

IMG_0977.JPG

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
tension…”
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
made).
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- Santa’s Underpowered Curve

if like most people you’ve always wondered what Santa Carlos (Azpilicueta) looks like when he’s fly casting here you go.SantaCarlos' Underpowered 180° Curve

often referred to as a good upstream presentation cast, the Underpowered Curve goes directly to the bottom of my list of actual casts to use. even if the final line layout seems really good from a theoretical point of view we’re throwing a whole lot of line directly over the fish whilst false casting and at final presentation and we’re left with an enormous, even ridiculous amount of slack to attempt to tighten up if we didn’t put off the fish and managed to get a strike. if we don’t get a strike, the whole leader and all that line will pass over the fish on its way back downstream before we can pick up and cast again and if that doesn’t put off the fish then its a really dumb fish not worthy of being caught !
accuracy wise, its also probably the most difficult cast to get just right in any repeatable manner even in ‘ideal’ conditions. any kind of wind severely compromises its success. in a sense, its one to keep in your bag of tricks as a last-resort presentation. at best.

none of that sounds very good, right ? but here’s the but and the however: just as with the underpowered Controlling Casting Stroke Force (please read or reread as both articles are directly connected), the Underpowered Curve is a more than excellent manner to learn to use the correct amount of force in your other casts. just as with the overhead version: “practising to cast lines that don’t turn over completely and ‘relearning’ to add a little more force, just what’s necessary to get the job done as we go along. this is an additive method. we start with ‘not enough’ and add-on little by little until it’s’just right’.  it’s quite easy to control because adding-on seems to correspond better to human nature than subtracting; we tend to ‘want more’ as opposed to ‘want less’ is equally valid and productive and might even be considered as the next step, or part II of the overhead drill as it’s trickier.
we need to adopt a slower casting rhythm while casting off to the side in a lower plane all the while keeping line, leader and fluff from hitting the ground. on the delivery cast, the underpowered bit needs to be controlled very precisely. although we can’t push strings or in this case fly lines and this will get the physics geeks tsk-tssssking, it helps to think of it as if we where pushing the rod leg only. (i know, that might be a weird way to visualise the motion but it works for me and hopefully for you too)

as in the gif, don’t forget to ‘kill the cast’ by immediately lowering the rod tip to prevent loop unrolling. be sure to try the exact same cast with and without lowering the rod tip to see how it greatly affects line layout/turnover.
lastly, similar to the overhead drill, the Underpowered Curve also teaches an important aspect that’s rarely brought up; varying the casting force between the back cast and the front cast (or vice-versa). a typical but non-conclusive example of this casting force variance would be when fishing with a strong tail wind. we’ll need  to have a higher line speed on the BC going into the wind, requiring more force and a greater casting arc and less speed, force and arc on the FC where the wind will help push it out.

since practicing without any kind of target is generally pointless, as with the overhead drill, place little targets or reindeer here and there in front of you and place the unrolled loop over them.
even if it’s just a few minutes, do yourself the favour of including both drills every time you’re out practicing. these are seemingly strange and quirky things to do but they really pay off. i guarantee.
whether or not you decide to don the Santa suit is up to you but keep in mind that it would make the occasion that much more special.

video graciously provided by Carlos Azpilicueta. thanks buddy !

post note- i’ve always wondered what the person strolling by in the background of the gif was thinking as they saw this…

Hey Ho, Let’s Go ! – Skunking down with Gink & Gasoline

its not like i’m attracted to this type of music but this song came to mind when i was trying to come up with the name for the new and long overdue ‘shoutout’ section here on TLC. over the years i’ve been honoured by quite a few of these shoutouts by some really cool blogs so the not very liked song title comes up after-all as a high energy reminder to get my stuff in gear… and as an invitation for you to Hey Ho, Go ! visit some of these awesome blogs.

first up and one of my all time faves, Gink & Gasoline: this one’s hotter than a hot-rod.
always on the move, whether it’s off somewhere cool fishing or finding great ways to share thoughts on our activity, today’s gem by Louis Cahill stands out from the crowd. no glim, no glamour but a real sense of honesty, despair, steelhead fishing and humour and it’s about our great friend, Le Skunk.

Skunk-G&G Hey Ho, Let's Go!

“The cost of this mania, as anyone who has ever done it knows, is the ever present risk of getting skunked. It’s always right there with you. It’s on the plane next to you. It’s in the boat. It’s low-holing you in every run. It snuggles up next to you in the bed, its awkward boner pressed against your backside. It’s in you dreams. Dreams where suave Disneyesque skunks bring you heart-shaped boxes of goose eggs. From the minute you pick up the long rod with two feet of cork, the skunk is riding shotgun.”

want more ? click on Pepe and Go ! 

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…
elephant-in-boa-SLP


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.

tailing-loop-backcast-a-bit-slower-than-real

” 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- have Fronton, will cast.

Fronton rod m.fauvet-TLC 23-2-15last weekend was spent in the Basque region of Navarra, Spain with friend, casting instructor colleague and someone i could consider to be my mentor in these fly casting shenanigans, Carlos Azpilicueta.
the weather couldn’t have been any worse (well, technically it could have been much-much worse) but trying to figure out some intricate casting stuff while there’s very strong wind gusts, rain mixed with slush snow and the consequent quite low temperatures that make slush snow while having fun and working on casting repeatability just doesn’t do it. having the option of hanging out at the local café and just talking about it was the first plan but all of a sudden an indoor fronton appeared out of the sky giving us the opportunity to do some actual swishing and slinging instead of blowing hot air and getting the jitters from too much coffee.
when i was living in Sweden i had had numerous casting sessions in the enormous indoors sports arenas that are in just about every town or city. the biggest i saw was able to have four simultaneous full-sized football/soccer games going on at the same time. that’s big. way too big.
our little fronton/basketball/multi-sport complex was a much more intimate affair, just perfect for anything except for the long-longest competion-style distance casts. i couldn’t care less about comp-style distance casts anyway so this was a real treat on several accounts:
– not being able to cast far forces one to cast at closer distances. i know, that’s an obvious ‘duh… ‘ but ! take some casting geeks to a big field and nine out ten times they’ll instantly peel all the line off their reels and try to cast it all and even if generally speaking, distance casting makes for better overall casting, that isn’t the complete picture.
– although we may bring our own cones, hoops, measuring tapes, golf balls or whatever to a field, we tend to place them, work on a few casts and challenges/games but there’s a horizon and that horizon always seems to beckon that full line again and we’re back to square one.
– this fronton, apart from being indoors protecting us from all the weathery crap had two distinctive features that made it all the more special and productive and they where both on the floor. first, the surface was incredibly slick (not slippery as in sliding and falling over when moving about but in the sense that the fly line had much less grip than field or artificial grass might give). this made for a perfect manner to study, observe and demonstrate the effects of the anchor for roll casts and Speys by effectively removing the anchor from the equation while still getting good casts. not only that but it was yet another perfect way to demonstrate and disprove the too often common notion, that the anchor loads the rod. (it doesn’t because it can’t. more on this ‘anchor loads the rod‘ nonsense HERE)

– the other and real eye-openning feature to this super-slick floor was that we could execute and demonstrate all sorts of casts on the floor itself similar to what several colleagues such as Aitor Coteron and Lasse Karlsson have been demonstrating with bead chains to great effect but this time, with real fly casting equipment: a rod, line and leader/fluff combination.
to be perfectly clear, i have the highest respect and gratitude for all the work my friends have done with bead chains and they’ve contributed enormously to the contemporary understanding of fly casting but there’s always been something missing, something always nagging me in the back of the mind and that mostly has to do with tapers or, different weight distributions along the whole fly line/leader/fly system. bead chains have a continuous mass and profile from one end to the other whereas our lines, leaders and flies don’t. in a nutshell, tapers make fly casting easy(er), predictable and get the job done. anyway, in my opinion the slick floor and real kit can only make any experiment or demonstration a bit more realistic. if nothing else, we’re using equipment that any fly fisher can really relate to and not something that seems to always get in the way when we’re trying to brush our teeth.

different loop shapes; tight, open, loop-fronts rounded or pointy, big uncontrolled loops and tailing loops where a breeze to execute and we could show them all in a slower-than-normal fashion making for an easier way to study them. if we underpowered the cast the loop would not completely turn over but retain the loop’s shape giving us a real-time casting drawing or video pause effect as if they where suspended in mid air. very cool.
we can’t do any of that or rather, lets say that its a lot more difficult to get the same results on grass because grass grabs the line, curves it out of shape because its irregular and nowheres near as smooth as this deluxe surface.
the darkish floor made for increased contrast with the bright orange lines making this all one of the best visual experiences i’ve ever seen or can imagine. i tried to film some of these casts but although it looked really cool to the naked eye, the low camera angle from head height didn’t do this justice. i’ll be back with a tall ladder next time to film them from above. can’t wait !

i’m fully aware at how geek this must sound but for someone like myself, this is extremely exiting stuff. its like several doors and windows opened and let in the light. of course, i want to learn more and more for myself because i crave this casting-geek stuff but a lot of those windows and doors that opened up will help my students see a bit more light as well because in the end, its all about sharing.

if we manage to not get distracted by unexpected phallic shapes, all these lines, lanes and curves open up a lot of casting-challenge possibilities. the mind’s the limit.
Fronton Floor 1 m.fauvet-TLC 23-2-15
trying to control a weighted and very air-resistant fluff-puff with a standard 6wt ‘trout-sized’ rod/line/small-fly leader: i’d say he’s damned good at it. of maybe more interest than casting overweighted fluff, we’ll notice how overall supple and fluid Carlos is when he casts. this makes for super-smooth casting that’s a real necessity with this kind of challenge but also translates to silky-suave-smoothness and line control when casting a normal fly. awesome !

and just another of the myriad game possibilities; keeping the fly line and leader on top of the white line. well, almost…fronton 3 m.fauvet-TLC 23-2-15

Single Hand Spey Casting- An Enlightening video

always on the research to find quality, inspiring casting videos to share here sometimes leads to real gems that don’t fit the quality and inspiring criteria at all and this one might be the gemmiest of them all.
i can’t decide whether this guy’s a very good actor or… so, let’s just take it for what it is, something funny to watch and just in case it isn’t a joke, lets be sure to completely disregard anything said or demonstrated. enjoy !

Fly Casting Practice- Controlling Casting Stroke Force

experience tells me that apart from improper wrist control, the second most common difficulty many fly casters struggle with is force application throughout the stroke and to be more precise, they use too much force. way too much.

there are several ways to create tailing loops and they all have to do with the rod tip rising after dipping below the standard straight or slightly convex tip path in one manner or another but i’m firmly convinced as well as many of my instructor colleagues that the main cause is improper; too early or too much force application and often both are combined.
leaving aside for the moment that rod rotation (where most of the force is applied and the rod tip is going its fastest) should be done at the end of the stroke, today’s casting drill tip is about force quantity and to understand the point of the topic i’ll ask you to consider these two questions:
1) how many times have you seen a fellow angler drive their fly into the water surface (when that wasn’t the intended presentation) or make tailing loops or have the fly kick back or hook to one angle or another before landing ?
2) how many times have you seen a fellow angler cast a pile at the end of the line when they wanted a straight presentation ?
i’ll be very generous with no. 2 and give it an approximate 10%. even if that approximation is just a roundabout figure its quite obvious that there’s an overall higher tendency leaning towards the ‘more than necessary/too much’.

now, there are two methods to adjust how much force is being used:
– the first is the standard ‘do your normal cast’ and try to apply less force until its all nice and smooth with super control.
this a subtractive method. it may work and there’s nothing wrong with it but its a hard way as its much more difficult to ‘hold back’ and ‘unlearn’ an engrained movement, specially when its something we’ve been doing for a long time.
– the other method consists of doing the exact opposite, practising to cast lines that don’t turn over completely and ‘relearning’ to add a little more force, just what’s necessary to get the job done as we go along.
this is an additive method. one that’s quite easy to control because adding-on seems to correspond better to human nature than subtracting; we tend to ‘want more’ as opposed to ‘want less’ and its a method that works very well for people of all levels in all the various types of fly casting whether it be close/middle/long range, stream to sea, little to big flies and single or double handed.

since years ago i had been working on an almost exactly the same presentation cast -the Dunkeld Dump– (named after the city in Scotland where i first demonstrated this cast to a group of fellow casting geeks) and of course using it a lot for river fishing but it was only last year that i realised what a gem this was as a practice routine on its own when friend, colleague and super-caster Aitor Coteron wrote this article that set off so many lightbulbs: To straighten or not to straighten. That is the question.

here’s a slightly different full-on angle of this drill from one of last year’s casting-geek meets in Spain.

to conclude, just as mentioned in the link, i highly recommend doing this exercise at every practise session, preferably at the beginning.
to add some variety and improve one’s force control while still working on accuracy, a great thing to do is place cones, tennis balls or whatever at different distances, even in a zig-zag formation and place the piles on the targets in sequence. dump and enjoy !