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 !

It is Traditional.

during my recent UK stint big buddy and today’s special guest blogger Mark Surtees invited me to fish two historical southern England chalkstreams; the Avon and the Wylie, both part of a handful of rivers in the Salisbury area that where some of the play and testing grounds for all the famous chalkstream fly fishing authors/forefathers: Skues, Sawyer and Halford the Weird just to name a few that still mostly established our manner of fishing as we see it today . although there’s a lot to learn from the past, i tend to not get all gooey when it comes to visiting historical places but i’ll have to admit that the day was a bit of a fishing highlight and i left it with yes, a certain mushy yet very pleasant aftertaste: the good kind, the kind that says mmmmmm… and brings a smile.
i’d heard of these famous waters all my life and they and their inhabitants, keepers and fishers have often been subjects right here on TLC but for one reason or another, never got to grace their exquisitely manicured banks.


i was lucky to just catch the tail end of the Mayfly season, the ‘real’ mayfly as it’s often considered in England, the big, milky-yellowish Danica. as another treat, the ranunculus where still flowering and we where able to enjoy them just in time as the weeding started just the next day. there’s a certain irony to this culling as the water weeds are a great breeding/hiding ground for all the insect groups the fish love to eat but these slow-flowing waters can get completely covered with the stuff making it unfishable. although i was an invited guest, keeping in mind the exorbitant prices it costs to fish one of these beats, i guess it’s understandable that fishers prefer to cast their flies on water instead of catching weeds on every cast. they do make life a bit difficult drift-wise…

i’m realising that my intended short introduction to the main event of this post is turning into a tirade… but i have to add a little more. hopefully you’ll consider my words as an appetiser or foreplay for the main course ! but since these rivers have special rules, and that’s what all this ‘tradition’ stuff is about i’ll be quick.
i didn’t get to keep the booklet that was allotted to me for the day but it basically goes like this: fishing from bank only (pretty cool not to have to wear waders) with either dry flies or nymphs (i’m equally cool with that specially that there was a decent amount of bugs flying here and there and fish where feeding happily on or near the surface) and the really weird and very unnatural one to me: upstream only.
from a practical point of view, considering the above rules, the slowish water with no special currents, the mowed paths above water level and easy casting space, my go-to approach would be my usual across-stream presentation while keeping a low profile. it’s by far the easiest and most efficient manner to get a great drift. if the fish takes the fly, great ! and if it doesn’t we can easily try another presentation or several without ever lining the fish or spooking it by lifting the line to recast. etc, etc, etc.
we had a good talk about the whys and what-fors with not only Mark but several other friends we met along the banks during the day and no other could come up with any other explanation apart from Tradition

“It is traditional, when discussing the southern English chalk streams, to speak, or even to write, in a tone of thatched and rose bowered wistfulness. It seems impossible to talk of these beautiful rivers in anything other than worshipful whispers. They represent an angling wormhole, a time passage back to the days of horsehair, cat gut and silk. Places where an angler, too twisted and tight wired by modern living, can kneel amongst the meadow flowers and cast at fat trout rising in the pale flint knuckled channels between the ranunculus beds, romancing across the years with the saints of the chalk streams who kneeled on these very same banks a hundred years ago.
Sadly, such a communion is beyond me because my knee isn’t up to bending much. This is due to a nasty “improperly ironed trouser turn-up” incident which caused me to whack it on the corner of the kitchen table last Saturday. Not being able to kneel and, with the added disadvantages of middle age and considerable bulk ruling out any possibility of demonstrating how to make oneself completely invisible behind a buttercup or a handy clump of meadowsweet, the prospects of a wistful riverbank commentary on the joys of chalk stream angling with a Frenchman seemed somewhat limited.
Via his book, Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice, Frederick Halford had an enormous influence over the regulatory framework for chalk stream fishing. For example, whilst some rules can seem a little odd to the uninitiated, it remains the case that fish in these waters have to be approached with some discretion or they will leg it in to the safety of a weed bed or under a reedy bank. They are exceptionally easy to spook. Applying a little common sense will tell you that in this kind of environment, if you stand upstream of a rising fish, wave a stick about and hurl a string at it, then it will generally clear off.
It is commonly believed that this perfectly rational thinking is the root of the “upstream only” rule. Astonishingly, it seems not, this more subjective analysis, scornful of the wetties, probably is:-
“On one point all must agree, viz., that fishing upstream with fine gut and small floating flies, where every movement of the fish, its rise at any passing natural, and the turn and rise at the artificial, are plainly visible, is far more exciting, and requires in many respects more skill, than the fishing of the water as practiced by the wet-fly fisherman.”

Mr Halford is also very firm on another matter, that of dress. He advocates that one should only ever fish these rivers in elastic garments made of wool. Stockinette stitched wool to be precise. Our Fred had an entire suit constructed from material which must have been a form of exceptionally hairy Victorian Lycra. It cannot conceivably have been comfortable, warm summer evening spinner falls must have been a distinctly tickly affair and it surely caused some significant difficulties with “unnecessary dampness”.
So, whilst his view of upstream casting remains influential and an amusing irritation to French visitors, his proclivities with respect to itchy elastic body wear have been discarded over time, no doubt due to irritation of an entirely different nature.
However, interestingly, a stockinette stitch is used in some forms of compression bandage and this would obviously be extremely useful for my knee. So, by channelling the spirit of Halford as my sartorial guide, and accepting that modern technology can better the fabric, I propose to have made a full body Lycra fishing suit decorated with butter cups and meadowsweet.
Although it may present some minor difficulties in the pub at the end of the day, or on the bus home, this will provide injury support and offer a perfect blending with the bank side vegetation. In fact, because it will make me all but invisible to the fish, I may even be able to cast downstream.
Just like Marc…  *
”vive la revolution”

and just to show that Mark is somewhat of a rebel himself, here he is performing a Traditional Downstream Grayling Release (untraditionally known as the Grayling Flop) on one of those very hallowed upstream-only chalkstreams…


* you’ve probably already guessed: i was fishing slightly upstream to a semi-regularly rising trout when all of a sudden a nice big boil happened straight downstream on my side of the bank no more than two rod lengths away. close to fifty years of instinct/habit/reflexes (and you can add every other knee-jerk reaction action to the list) instantly kicked in and i thoughtlessly did a Snake roll and placed the fly dead centre of the still small ring and had an instant take from a beautiful golden-bellied brown and i don’t feel the slightest remorse from my heinous crime…

thanks for such a lovely day, Mark. it’s always a treat to see you but this was really special.

BEWARE THE BACK CAST- or, More on Jean Dujardin

for the third time now, Pete Tyjas at Eat Sleep Fish asked me to send a little something to be included in issue 41 that came out last week.  this breaks the ‘more than twice’ barrier, meaning that ESF is kinda turning into a home away from home and i couldn’t feel more honoured because it’s a really nice place to be and i’m very grateful towards Pete for inviting me in.
so far my contributions have been fly casting related: the first was Poetry Grace Fluidity and the state of Relaxed Butt, the second on How to Loose your Fly in Trees and now this one about this goofy french movie actor.
here’s a preview-

“Fishing in tight spaces is always a tricky situation because casting and therefore fishing successfully involves thinking and more precisely, thinking before acting. What I’ve noticed in life so far, is that thinking after the fact usually doesn’t do much good because contrary to popular belief, most people don’t really learn from their mistakes.

Lefty’s still saying that God won’t let you cast this way or that, we still burn our tongues biting into a hot pizza and rap is still a popular music form…

When encumbered by trees and brush, cliffs, girlfriends/boyfriends and livestock, to get the fly out to the fish in an inciting manner the successful angler needs to look around and be aware of all those dumb things that nature surounds us with and puts between us and our slimy friends before going about it or they’ll just have to risk being as silly as the guy below.”

for more silliness briefly interspersed with hopefully-helpful mind-set casting/fishing tips click on the frenchman above and while you’re there, be sure to check out the whole edition for a more than fine as-always selection of great fly fishing related articles from around the globe. enjoy !

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 ?

Fly Casting Accuracy- Think Small

practicing to very small targets
think small m.fauvet:tlc 22-4-14

until a few years ago i was a keen archer and although i had to stop due to a shoulder injury and its consequent surgery, there’s a few things i’ve brought over to my fly casting world that have helped a lot in getting better and more consistent fly placement results.
whether we’re shooting arrows, throwing darts, balls or rocks or fly lines, there’s one constant we need to strive for or we might as well be blowing hot air and that’s accuracy because if we can’t get our flies to the fish, we’re not really fishing. productive and consistent fly casting isn’t just about waving our arms, we have this wonderful mushy thing called a brain. it’s kinda hard to forget it at home and it’s always with us so, let’s put it to good use.

hopefully some of these ideas will help you get your flies where you want them to go.

Archery_targetthe Invisible Target-
right in the middle of the yellow 10 point zone of FITA targets there’s a teeny-tiny cross that’s used to separate match finalists. even if the two archers get all their arrows in the 10 point zone, the arrow(s) closest to the cross gets the win. now, where this becomes interesting is this cross is impossible to see with the naked eye at 70m (229.65 ft) but in order to hit it or get very close to the cross the archer needs to envision it, see it with her/his ‘inner eye’ and to be really accurate in fly casting it really helps to do the same.

archery targets are angled to be in the same plane as the incoming trajectory of the arrows, the whole target is in good view of the archer but when fishing we’re faced with a different set of problems regarding perspective, target acquisition and target placement. contrary to FITA style archery we don’t have known and precisely marked distances and we’re casting to a horizontal plane target.
we rarely have a fixed target point to concentrate on, specially in moving water. we very often need to cast our flies above the water to enable them to land gently and not splash and spook the fish. even if we’re casting to a sighted fish, we’ll almost always cast somewhere away from the fish so that our fly will drift towards it or in the case of induced takes, have time to settle before being pulled in front of the fish. there are other variables like induced slack for specific drift qualities which is the most difficult accuracy-wise but for the moment let’s just concentrate on a standard straight line/leader presentation.

back to archery targets- one of the first things we learn when starting off is to not shoot for the whole target but for a very specific point within the target: it’s centre. (shooting for the whole target is very common among beginners)
when we shoot for the target we’re not focusing on a specific area and even if the archer has good form they’ll be lucky to place an arrow anywhere inside it. as soon as we train our focusing capabilities (i refer to it as ‘critical focus’) we start getting our arrows grouped towards the centre and get better scores. later on, when we learn to abstract the whole target and even the colours (in this case the yellow) and focus exclusively on the unseen-yet-known centre cross our arrows seem to magically and consistently get closer and closer to it.

of course there’s no magic involved, as predators our bodies are made to be most efficient in acquiring targets that are in front of us. our major acquiring/hunting senses: hearing, smell and in our case the most important, vision, are all geared to what’s in front of us. precise target acquisition: distance assessment, angle of projectile trajectory, etc first start with our eyes and to be very precise we need to focus on very small areas and in fly fishing, what’s maybe the oddest form of projectile throwing, we very often need to cast our flies precisely to an area that is not our target. just as with the little cross, to place the fly precisely we need to abstract everything that is not the very small target we are aiming at. this can be a challenge when there are distractions such as the targeted fish, peer pressure, obstacles, mooing cows, branches etc, etc, etc.
to regularly and predictably reach our target we need to be aware of and keep all of those distractions in mind but for a few seconds, keep them in the background and favour only the very small target zone until the fly has landed.
just as with the little cross, we’ll need to envision this target area and critically focus on the most minute area we can actually see or imagine where we want our fly to go.
on rivers we can sometimes aim for a bubble or something else floating downstream but most often this target area will be (if we’re lucky enough to have something to lock our vision on) something way beyond but in the same eye/target plane: the tip of a branch, a flower, a stone in the water, a far away tree top or cloud. the possibilities are endless and innumerable but there’s almost always something there, we just need to look for them.
and then sometimes there’s nothing at all to focus on and this is where the little cross and using our imagination comes in. we’ll need to make up/imagine the little cross in our mind.

just as with the arm-waving part of fly casting, teaching the brain to work in a different manner takes some practice and a little time but lucky for us, this time there’s no risk of sore joints, muscles, back pains or cramps.

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 !

Delving into the Different- FurBirds

in a world (mine) where fly fishing and everything else somehow manages to combine i’m often confronted with difficult mind-numbing decisions such as:
– will this particular food enhance my day on the water ?
– are socks made by a fishing brand capable of outperforming (whatever that means) or be more comfy than non use-specific socks ?
– shall i shave before going to the river and other mojo-enhancing or destructive maybe make-or-break weirdnesses like,
“where’s that lucky cap, i’ll blank if i don’t have it !”,
taking the 9′ 5wt that caught that big brown instead of the 9′ 5wt that’s only caught little perch so far,
the “wait, this spot’s never fished well when the wind’s coming in from the Mediterranean”,
“you could be going out on a lunch date but you’d rather go out and wave a rod around instead ?!”
(i’m single. going out on dates means a lot more to us than you married/hooked-up lot)(at least it should, among other reasons, we don’t have that roll-over, “wanna ?” taken for granted convenience)

and then realising that Tuesday wasn’t open to fishing after all as there where several non-fly fishing things spread out throughout the day planned well in advance that had been duly noted in the agenda that hardly ever if ever gets read which in the end leaves a dour D’Oh, a sour taste, a lingering smell of anticipatory sweat and several bags laying by the front door looking stupid and lonely that remind me of a dog one would have gotten all excited by telling it they where going for that long-needed relief walk, had grabbed the leash and then at the last moment yelled feckit all ! and deciding to watch videos that have absolutely nothing to do with fly fishing instead.
something like these FurBirds

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 Terms

another real gem for us shared here with Mac Brown‘s kind permission.

casting terms

first published in 2009, this is most certainly the most comprehensive list there is. beyond the definitions themselves there’s a whole lot of food for thought borne from an enormous amount of experience both on the water and whilst studying how fly casting works leaving us with not only the obvious written but also a lot to read between the lines for the inquisitive and creative fly fisher/caster.

titled as fly casting terms, we’ll notice how Mac’s list delves deeply into the not-so-usually talked about world of 3-dimensinal casting and presentation line layouts. we’ll also find a whole host of fishing and equipment definitions as well; there’s a little something here for everyone and it’s all yummy. (even if it gets super-geek at times but that’s a necessity as Mac’s on a whole other plane compared to most !…)
i’d recommend taking your time, chewing slowly and let it all sink in one mouthful at a time. bon appétit !


” These terms are not set in stone. I have modified many of the terms I use when teaching over the years and am always looking for better ones. These terms below have served me well for my own personal learning curve and in teaching over the years. Most of them I came up with when organizing my text, Casting Angles in the early 90’s. These are ongoing and always subject to changes and amendments. I believe that the terms below can be used to teach all styles of casting and have enough tools for discussion of mechanics for specialty casts. When teaching, we often have revelations that seem like they move us through dimensional leaps of faith into new discoveries. When we can get a global recognition of terms commonly used in the sport, it will no doubt be much easier to get instructors on the same page.

I realize that most folks do not need to even witness these terms for their own casting. The casting geek lingo is helpful among instructors and educators of fly fishing. There has been so much offered over the years in dealing with the straight line casting stroke that in some ways I feel this has stagnated the general casting public. You can not use two dimensional terms and models and apply it for the real world of fishing casts (regardless of single or double handed rods). The trend here in the states is to call all of the 3D, constant tension casts, live line cast, etc.. and lump them all into the world of spey casting. This is a tragic mistake for the next generation of anglers throughout the globe if we continue on this path. It is essential that organizations globally break away from this two dimensional ideology for fly casting because it is very limiting on the water (as well as teaching). It is my sincere hope that something in these terms will cause curiosity to increase with your own casting and or teaching. “

Casting Terms

180 Degree Principle: The aerial back cast or D loop is made in a straight line exactly 180 degrees opposite from the target. Useful for straight line casts for distance and accuracy.

Acceleration– The rate of increase or decrease in velocity, magnitude, or direction.

Active Presentations– A presentation when the fly moves at a different rate from the current in which it travels so the angler may represent the food organism’s behavior. Active presentations impart an erratic change of direction, magnitude, and velocity to the selected imitation that closely mimics the natural organism’s state of being.

Anatomical Advantages– Diagnosing the weaknesses and strengths of the body parts and how they apply to the mechanics of the casting stroke. Many casting styles make use of various individual physiques.

Anatomical Position– The position of your body when standing upright with your arms at your side, while your palms face toward the same direction as your body.

Anchor– The anchor is typically the fly, leader, and a tip section of line that is positioned close to the caster (often a rod length away and in line with D loop and forward cast) prior to delivery. Shorter cast uses less anchor and a long cast uses more line for the anchor.

Angular Thrust-The casting stroke is a combination of the whole body involved for applying force to the rod. However, all casts involve using one or more combination of six different wrist positions (see directly below).

Angular Linear Thrust– A concept for describing the rod hand always remaining parallel with the forearm. The basic vertical foundation cast (most commonly taught) is an example of angular linear thrust. The motion includes usually either wrist abduction or adduction.

Angular Perpendicular Thrust– A concept for describing the rod hand’s perpendicular relationship to the forearm. It encompasses both wrist extension and flexion. This is often performed toward the completion of the casting stroke and line manipulation.

Angular Rotational Thrust– The circular motion applied from the forearm during the cast or mend. The motion is performed by varying the thrust force in which the forearm rotates (pronates or supinates) clockwise or counterclockwise.

Back Cast – A description that usually has the fly line cast opposite of the target area. It changes as well to other directions depending on obstacles, wind, or other change of direction fly line setups.

Bag of Tricks– The complete knowledge of understanding and ability to master several varieties of casts which aid the angler in challenging scenarios. It includes the full spectrum of control and force used for fishing casts.

Body Plane– The body plane refers to the positioning of where the rod and line is used while performing casts. The positioning around the caster will be a measurement of degrees always in a clockwise direction with 0° always directly in front of the caster (see also on–side and off–side).

Cast– The projectile loop motion of line created by varying the amount of force during the stroke that is applied to the rod by the caster. This dynamic motion propels the fly line, leader, and fly to a specific position on the water.

Casting Analyzer– A tool invented by Noel Perkins and Bruce Richards used for looking at the smoothness of applied force during the casting stroke. It also measures the symmetry for the back and forward casts for casts that are translatory. It also contains data of elite casters to compare your application of power with many of the greats. (the castanalysis.com site originally linked to this article is no longer accessible)

Casting Arc– (also Casting angle) The angle of rotational change of the rod when making the casting stroke. For many years arc was described as clock face positions.

Casting Cycle– The complete motion of implementing two casting strokes. Usually this is referred to as a back and forward cast. It could also mean two back or two forward cast. Casting cycle varies according to tempo for dealing with obstacles.

Casting Mechanics– A study of force and motion during and after the casting stroke. The force and motion are so completely interrelated (like braids of a rope) that neither can be defined independently from the other.

Casting Planes– Casting planes include all of the various airspace the rod and line are worked through a three–dimensional space around the caster’s body (see rod, loop, and line planes).

Casting Stroke– When the angler applies force to the rod to form a loop of line. This includes hand path and casting arc.

Closed Loop– Refers to a loop in which the fly leg crosses the rod leg during the cast (also called a tailing loop).

Complete System Forces– A concept for viewing all of the internal and external systems in unison (big picture), and the relationship of the interaction of forces present on the objects of the system.

Concave Rod Tip Path– A U-shaped rod tip path where the rod tip falls below, then rises above the effective straight line path (SLP) of the rod tip. May be problematic for causing higher chance for tailing loops (depending on application of power). Most common cause for this shape is applying force to the rod too abruptly or too early in the casting stroke.

Conservation of Energy– The sum of the potential and kinetic energy within the system remains constant for the complete system. The gain of kinetic energy must equal the loss of potential energy in any process of the system.

Control– The intended application or lack of force to achieve a desired line layout. A full range of control includes the concept of application of negative force, normal force, and positive force, as well as the usage of all rod and loop planes. A higher understanding of line tension.

Counterflex-When the rod springs down at the completion of casting stroke (after RSP) toward the direction of the unrolling loop.

Coupled Plane Pendula– A series of three or more hinges that perform motion. This concept is useful for understanding how body hinges of the caster may apply force to the casting stroke for either translatory or rotary motion. It can also be used to describe the fly line loop unrolling during the fly cast. The line is cast through a specific plane and is coupled together with a series of frictionless hinges.

Convex Rod Tip Path– A domed shape rod tip path (windshield-wiper like path in extreme cases) that may result in larger loops. Negative casts (also called underpowered casts) often use a convex rod tip path for controlling large fly loops for curves.

Creep– An ill-timed (too early) forward drift movement of little power to the rod in the direction of the next casting stroke that reduces available casting arc and/or casting stroke. Creep is often labeled as a fault and is usually (but not always) unintentional for many casters. Creep typically increases tension of the rod leg.

D Loop-The D loop is a loop of line that forms behind the rod tip and it can be either dynamic or static. Usually Spey casts make use of a dynamic D loop. A basic roll cast often uses a static D loop.

Damping – a). A term that refers to how quickly a rod recovers to a resting position at the end of rod motion. b). Also used to describe the relaxing on the grip of the rod butt after the stop to minimize rod tip oscillations.

Dangle– The line’s position prior to the cast that is usually downstream of the caster.

Delivery Cast– The final cast that delivers the fly, leader, and line to a specific location.

Direction Altered Cast– A casting stroke in which the forward or backward cast does not end up in the same plane from which it started.

Double Haul– A line acceleration technique that increases rod load, tip speed, and line speed. It encompasses a haul on both the back and forward cast. Aids in keeping the rod tip straighter for a longer period.

Double Taper Line– A line that is tapered on each end and is uniform throughout the remaining length.

Downstream Wind– A wind that blows downstream.

Drag– a).The fly moving at a speed other than the current’s speed in which it is traveling.

b). Rod translation during early part of casting stroke that helps build momentum to the direction of the cast. It can be used to increase tension, take up unwanted slack, delay rotation, or assist casting stroke by starting to overcome fly line inertia. This has been called pull as well with some casting groups (see “Slide” also).

c). Casting geeks also refer to air/water friction on the coatings of fly lines.

Drift– a). Refers to the amount of drag implemented on the fly (sometimes called float).

b). A supplementary motion that takes place during the pause of the stroke for repositioning the rod. Drift also offers an advantageous position for shooting line at the completion of the casting stroke. Upward drift toward the unrolling line can also be an advantage for opening up the casting stroke and arc angle and makes it easier for shooting line due to rod position.

Effective Rod Length-Refers to the distance from tip of rod to the butt of the rod. Useful when looking at video analysis since the rod is bent when performing casts. The shorter the distance of (ERL) equates to maximum load.

Energy– A concept for the capacity of an object to perform work. Examples include potential and kinetic.

Enlightenment Casts– Creative and imaginative uses of various actions when performing the casting stroke. To gain an understanding on the full comprehension of the problems involved and their solutions on the stream.

External System Forces– A concept used for describing forces exerted to the objects of the internal system. Examples include gravity, surface friction of water, wind, diverse currents, obstacles surrounding the caster, and more.

False Casts– To implement multiple casting strokes without allowing the line to fall to the water or ground level.

Feed Lane– An area where food organisms are heavily concentrated in the water current.

Fly Leg-The part of the unrolling loop that contains the fly end to the center of axis of the unrolling loop (accelerating part of loop).

Follow-Through– To move the rod in the direction of the unrolling loop. It can accomplish easier line shoots as well as extending the overall distance of the haul. Follow-through may be either a form of drift or casting stroke.

Forearm Pronation– The rotation of the forearm in back from the anatomical position.

Forearm Supination– The rotation of the forearm in front when the palm faces opposite of the anatomical position.

Forward Cast– A cast that usually travels in front of the caster, but direction is often, but not limited to, a position in front of the caster.

Grip– a). The handle of the rod usually made of cork where the angler pilots the rod. b). Many various grips used to hold the rod depending on what you are attempting to accomplish.

Hand-Rod Path– A concept used for describing the path and distance that the rod hand follows when performing the cast. These paths include simple geometric patterns such as straight lines, circular, elliptical, triangular, and smooth curves.

Haul– A quick tug on the fly line with the line hand usually performed during the last half of casting stroke (used also with various timings for specialty casts).

Imitation– The fly pattern (also called the artificial or fly) attached to the end of the tippet. These typically include wets, nymphs, dries, and streamers.

Inertia– A property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force.

Initial Velocity– Refers to the velocity at which the rod begins the casting stroke.

Internal System Forces– The interaction of the mechanics on the objects within the system and the relationships they exert on one another. The internal system includes all components of the caster and the equipment used in performing the cast.

Kick– The abrupt, rapid or sudden turnover of a fly, leader, or fly line at the end of the loop becoming straight. Can be caused by overpowering a cast, having too much weight at end of leader, or by having no leader or a shortened leader. Positive casts make use of kick for driving a nymph down vertically into the water or when making curve casts.

Latent Rod Force– The slight potential energy (spring) of the rod when casting.

Layout– A concept used for measuring the displacement (initial positioning) of the imitation, the leader, and fly line following the casting stroke.

Level Line– A fly line that is a consistent diameter throughout its length (no taper).

Lift– A vertical form of sweep to lift line from the water prior to the the next line positioning move or casting stroke.

Line Hand– The hand that controls the fly line between the reel and the stripping eyelet. Example, if you cast holding the rod with your right hand, then your left hand is also called the line hand.

Line-Pull Cast– All casts that implement a haul after the stop of the rod has occurred for controlling the layout. This increases tension on the rod leg and causes the fly leg to turnover quicker.

Line Velocity (Average)– A measurement of the displacement of fly line divided by the time which it traveled.

Line Plane– The angle created of the fly line in relation to the surface of water or ground.

Load– To cause the rod to flex when moving the rod during the casting stroke. The resistance of the line weight and increasing momentum against the rod, usually when the line straightens or other similar tension is applied to the line.

Loading Move– The progressive buildup of forces applied to the rod that takes place after the initial velocity and before the stop of the stroke.

Loop– A moving length of line past the rod tip where there is a distinct rod/fly leg. Takes on a candy-cane appearance for the unrolling portion of the fly line. Loop formation always has two strands of line (rod and fly leg), that either may or may not run parallel to one another dependent on translation or rotary hand/rod paths.

Loop Morph–The loop is always changing shape and size during flight depending on overall velocity, tension, mass displacement of the line, and transverse waves put there by the caster.

Loop Plane– A measurement in angles from the perspective of the caster used for determining the relative position of the fly leg in relationship to the rod leg during loop travel. The loop plane is zero-degrees at vertical and is measured clockwise 360 degrees. Controlling loop planes often have hand-paths that deviate from straight (typically curved hand paths during the casting stroke). Learn to control loop planes on top, below, away, and toward the caster when using the same rod plane.

Major Drag– The fly dragging at a different speed from the currents, due to the whole leader tensioning the fly.

Maximum Rod Load– When the rod is bent (loaded) the deepest when performing the overall cast, sweep, mend, and other dynamic line positioning techniques. Usually maximum rod load is close to equaling maximum fly line acceleration.

Maximum Rod Flex (MRF)– The increased force that the rod possesses when it is flexed to near its elastic limit. Longer hand–rod paths, hauling techniques, increased rod arc, rod planes, body planes, equipment used, and optimal load placement (line planes) all influence the maximum rod flex.

Mend– A form of sweep used for manipulating the fly line in air or water that usually creates slack or removes slack in order to achieve a desired result with line layout. Used for placement of line position that typically takes place after RSP.

Micro Drag– The fly dragging at a minute different speed and direction from the currents because the tippet of the leader has increased tension (also called hidden drag).

Momentum– The measure of motion for a property of matter that relates the line’s mass and its velocity.

Narrow Loop– A loop typically with the distance between the fly/rod leg of less than two feet (since the loop is changing this is just a rough average).

Negative Force– A reduction of the net forces applied throughout the stroke by either releasing slack into the internal system or decreasing the amount of force from the rod hand toward the end of the casting stroke. The loop never turning over through infinite casting planes is characteristic of negative force casts.

Non-Parallel Loop– See “open loop”.

Normal Force– The minimal amount of net forces required for performing the cast which attains complete turnover of the loop through infinite casting planes (the fly line should be a straight layout).

Off-Side– The side of the body where the hand holds the line. Off–side includes everything from the ground to the caster’s center of the axis.

On-Side– The side of the body where the hand holds and pilots the rod. Example, a right handed caster’s on–side includes all casting planes from the caster’s center of the axis to ground level on the right (note: this angle is greater than ninety-degrees).

Open Loop– A concept used for describing the appearance of position and large displacement between the fly/rod legs of the loop (also called a curved line or non-parallel loop). This is a casting fault if the caster attempts a translatory hand-rod path. It is normal for rotary hand-rod paths to use an open loop (most negative force casts).

Optimal Line Length– A distance of flyline the caster has the ability and skill level to control when making the cast. To find your optimal line limit, perform several false casts and find the line distance that you can control with confidence. Measure this distance of line and divide the total by the length of the rod used. Beginners may find it practical to mark this point with a permanent marker or attach a nail knot for a reference when performing the cast.

Optimal Load Placement– The placement of flyline on the back cast which distributes the line’s weight most efficiently for bending the rod deep on the forward cast. This placement is critical for allowing the rod to perform more of the work during the cast.

Optimal Reach– A measurement of distance for the path in which the rod hand may travel. Mark a dot on an object to the rear and another far in front for finding your optimal reach distance.

Overhang– The amount of running or shooting line between the tip–top and the rear taper of the shooting head or weight–forward line.

Parallel Loop Legs-Refers to the displacement of the fly and rod legs of the loop remaining parallel. Useful for accuracy and distance casting (highly efficient for loop propagation).

Passive Presentation– Presentations where the fly moves at the same rate as the current in which it travels so the angler may represent the insect in a natural manner.

Pause-The time period between accents of applied force to the rod. Many claim casting strokes, but we have slight pauses for lift, sweep, circle casts, figure eight, etc… (see also rhythm, timing, tempo, and syncopation).

Perpendicular Rod– The rod’s position at the completion of the casting stroke which remains close to ninety-degrees in relationship to the target. This position enables the rod to become an action on altering the tension throughout the line due to rebound (common with positive casts).

Pickup– A form of drift to slowly lift the line from the water before starting the casting stroke.

Pop and Stop– A concept used to describe the amount of force applied to the rod and when it stops during the casting stroke (like paint being flicked from a brush). Has also been called the speed up and stop, power snap, speed move, power stroke, flicking motion, positive stop, and others through various casting circles.

Positive Force– An increase of the net forces applied throughout the stroke and the loop always travels back around to the opposite direction of loop plane in which it was created. Used for positioning angles in the relationship of fly, leader, and fly line (control). Use of greater force than needed for a normal force cast. Characteristics of positive force cast make use of a narrow loop that travels fast.

Presentation– How one presents himself, the cast, the imitation, stealth tactics, equipment chosen; your cumulative knowledge of the complete system for the deception of the fish.

Prime Lies– Areas in stream that offer fish food and shelter from predators.

Rebound– Refers to the rod bouncing back after counterflex (at completion of adding force to the rod with examples of casting stroke, sweep, mend, etc…).

Retrieve– Any method which pulls flyline in through the guides while fishing for controlling the amount of line outside and away from the tip–top.

Reverse Thrust– Any force which is straight away and in the opposite direction of flyline travel upon the completion of the stroke. Examples include pulling the line, backing the rod up, or perpendicular rod positioning (latent rod force) as soon as the abrupt stop occurs.

Rhythm– The movement or fluctuation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related objects to the system. The pace of a singular movement during the cast (line positioning sweep or casting stroke). Used to describe applied force during rod motion. Syncopation, timing, and tempo are a few examples that are encompassed by rhythm. Very important concept for any fly casting model for dealing with teaching advanced casts or line manipulations.

River Left– Is the left bank of the river when facing downstream. This is actually a boating definition that is useful for painting word pictures.

River Right– Is the right bank of the river when facing downstream.

Rod Action–A concept used to describe the features of the rod pertaining to where and how the rod bends when put into motion under load. Characteristics of rod action include but are not limited to frequency, stiffness, sensitivity, distribution of mass, dampening, and mcuh more!

Rod Arc– The angle of change when making the casting stroke (also called casting arc).

Rod Fade–A movement of the rod at the completion of the casting stroke downward toward the water or ground. Used to relieve tension on the rod leg and typically gain greater control over negative force casts.

Rod Hand– The hand which pilots (grips) the fly rod while performing the cast.

Rod Leg– The portion of fly line that runs from the center of axis of the loop to the rod tip.

Rod Plane– A concept used for describing the rod position during the casting stroke. It is a measurement of angles with zero-degrees directly vertical and plus or minus ninety-degrees parallel with the ground or water.

Rod Pointing– On the final delivery cast, the rod is pointed directly toward the target. Pointing the rod is often used while casting in the horizontal casting plane or when applying angular thrust to the cast.

RSP (Rod Straight Position)-A concept of the rod being straight toward the completion of casting stroke. Useful for video diagnostic of overall stroke.

Rod Wavering– The tip-top path of the rod moves away from the parallel reference plane throughout the stroke. The rod hand does not remain consistent for applying force in a straight line during the casting stroke. Rod wavering is used for describing faults in casts when the caster attempts to attain straight line motion (see tracking).

Roll Cast Pickup– A method of beginning the casting stroke in which the fly line becomes aerial to load the line in front and to break the surface tension bond of water. The pickup enables the casting cycle to be more efficient (shooting line on the pickup). It usually proceeds as roll cast pickup, back cast, and finally the delivery cast.

Rotary Motion– Motion occurring in a revolving manner which can be around a fixed point, a point in translatory motion, or a point in rotary motion which may serve as the axis of rotation.

Running Line– The long thin section of fly line that extends from the rear taper of a weight-forward line to the back end of the line.

Shooting Head– A short heavy flyline which that may be tapered or level which is not attached to a conventional running line. The running section is usually made from braided monofilament as opposed to thin flyline.

Shooting Line– a).The thin running line attached to the rear of the shooting taper which is also called a running line. b). The release of additional line to be pulled through the guides by the unrolling loop when the rod has stopped. Shooting line relieves tension in the rod leg causing the fly leg to turnover slower. Late or early shoots are also common for various control casts (also called slip line techniques).

Single Haul– A method of accelerating the rod tip and line speed that uses a haul on either the forward cast or the backward cast, but not both. It is usually performed on the forward cast.

Six Step Method– A very simple diagnostics tool used for instructors that was originated by Bruce Richards. It works by observing the fault in this order line, rod, body, to slip in with the correction of body, rod, line. Once you get lots of teaching experience you can use this tactic to quickly make adjustments. The real art behind it in teaching is to solve a couple of things that solve many. Often times new instructors want to solve many things at once especially with new casters that have many faults. Often a few subtle suggestions leads to progress for the student much quicker.

Slide– Rod translation during early part of casting stroke that does not alter tension when done correctly. When timed correctly, the rod hand and the line hand move back together (without rotation) hence no change in tension. This is what separates slide from drag (drag increases tension on the line). Both enable the caster to setup in a more comfortable or powerful position for rod rotation. Most styles that use drag also use slide first.

SLP (straight line path)-A term used to describe the brief period of time that the rod tip is traveling in a straight line. Smooth acceleration during the casting stroke and hauling the line help to achieve longer SLP (useful for straight line casting).

Snap Casts– A type of cast that propels the loop creation opposite the direction of acceleration. It is the inverse acceleration of typical casting strokes.

Stop– The butt of the rod stops to transfer the energy from the bend of the rod to the line leading to loop formation.

Spey Cast-A form of fly casting that takes advantage of change of direction casts through roll-type casting that remains in constant tension (also called constant tension casting).

Spline– The spline refers to the stiffer section usually on the back of the rod (usually opposite the guides).

Stance– The orientation of the caster’s body during the cast determined by the placement of the caster’s feet.

Stream Awareness-A concept that describes the anglers knowledge and understanding of the behavior, intricacies, and relationships of the stream flow and aquatic organisms and how they relate to the ecosystem. This is best developed through empirical lessons learned on the stream.

Stripping Eyelet– The largest guide on the rod that is also the first one from the grip.

Stroke– The complete casting motion performed by the rod hand that includes only one backward or forward cast, depending on the perspective. The pause is characteristic of the completion of all strokes.

Style– Includes form (such as hand, elbow, stance, etc…), descriptive word pictures for application of force or hauling, and many other unique methods used to achieve various loop shapes. It also includes ones effectiveness to connect with others for communicating these topics in a fun non-boastful manner. Mel Krieger offered the concepts of substance and style. As the sport grows it is a bit easier for instructors and students to convey concepts if we keep these separate.

Substance– Includes the fundamentals of timing, mechanics, all of the specialty fishing casts nuances, and many other key concepts. Sometimes there will be gray areas that have both style and substance. These examples are best stated by Krieger when he said “if you are very fortunate you will understand that the profound path towards teaching mastery gets two miles farther away for every mile you travel”.

Surface Tension– The relationship of intermolecular forces that exist at the surface of a liquid whose properties resemble those of an elastic skin under tension. This force acts heavily on the relationship of line on the water and emergence or egg–laying stages of insects.

Sweep-An action to position the line for the following casting stroke.

Syncopation– Syncopation is used when stressing a force in a normally unstressed location or a lack of force when it is normally accented during rod movements. It really comes into play for elliptical 8’s, snaps, and oval casting (but is very common for many things dealing with rod motion).

System Response Curve– A concept used for understanding the relationship of force and control for varying rod planes. It can be used to measure the system efficiency in explaining different casts.

Tailing Loop– Occurs when the fly leg crosses the rod leg and creates a closed loop (see also closed loops and wind knots). It should be observed past half way point in travel for the propagating loop (because many casts have crossover during setup of roll cast, distance cast, and others-these are not tails in the early setup stages). Since the legs can cross once, twice, and more is the reason for quantifying 50% of loop travel. I have yet to see one tail right at the rod tip that disappears before the 50% rule in flight (because the traveling transverse wave propagates down the line to the end). While it is true that many tailing loops are usually a fault, they can also be useful presentation casts for curve cast. There are many causes of tails but most of them stem from too early/abrupt application of force, line planes less than 180*, rod tip jumps above the oncoming lines path, improper haul timing, and many others. The fly leg wrinkle is the key for seeing the problem and you can easily go back to rod tip for the cause.

Tempo– The pace of the overall cast from start to finish. A beneficial concept to practice changes in tempo for dealing with fishing scenarios. As an example, a slow underpowered back cast static D loop followed by normal forward cast for missing obstacles right at your back. Practical for distance casting in taking tempo to the max for the amount of line carried.

Timing-The time period for each movement during the overall casting sequence.

Tension– Opposing forces that act on pulling the line apart. Make it a goal to really understand how your actions while making casts increase or decrease tension (very beneficial).

Three-Dimensional Casting Planes– A concept used for describing all of the air space around the casters body which the fly line and rod may be used in performing casts.

Tip-Top– The final guide at the tip of the rod.

Tip-Top Path– A concept used to describe the path that the tip–top of the rod scribes through the air when making casts.

Tip-Top Velocity– The velocity of the rod tip during the casting stroke.

Tip Travel– The total distance the rod tip moves when making a cast. This is the by product of casting stroke and casting arc.

Tracking-A term used to describe the rod tip traveling straight with out side to side wobble during the casting stroke (see also rod wavering).

Translatory Motion– A concept used to describe motion occurring in a straight line.

Transverse Wave– A transverse wave is a moving wave that consists of oscillations occurring perpendicular (or right angled) to the direction of energy transfer. One common example of a transverse wave occurs during rebound. Many specialty casts make use of transverse waves for presentations by initiating the wave pulse during the casting stroke which propagates down the fly leg for a desired result.

Upstream Wind– A wind that blows upstream.

V Loop– A V loop is a wedged shape back loop of line formed behind the rod tip that is more efficient than a D loop in flight. Offers greater load to pull against when timed with a proper anchor.

Vector Haul– A line haul method that manipulates two strands of fly line producing a two-to-one ratio for achieving deeper rod flex.

Vector Pull Retrieve– A line retrieval method that manipulates two strands of flyline at all times, as opposed to the traditional retrieval which pulls only one strand. One retrieval of line is equal to approximately twice your body height.

Vector Quantities– A concept used for describing a direction and magnitude that relies heavily on the logic of mathematical relationships for solving the resultant.

Video Capture-To use a camera for tweaking your own casting as well as diagnosing others.

Waltz– The transfer of the caster’s body weight from one foot to the other during the casting cycle. The shifting of the caster’s center of axis throughout the stroke.

Wave Speed of Line– The slight wave forms in the fly line during travel which is less efficient than straight line travel. These waves propagate quicker when tension remains high (see also Transverse waves).

Weight-Forward Line– A line that is tapered and consist of its casting weight distributed toward the front of the line, with the remaining line called running line.

Wind Knot– An overhand knot in the line or leader caused from a tailing loop during the casting stroke.

Wrist Abduction– To draw away from the body from an anatomical position.

Wrist Adduction– To draw toward the body from an anatomical position.

Wrist Extension– To draw away from the joint which increases the angle of the joint.

Wrist Flexion– To close the joint which decreases the angle of the joint.

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 !

 

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 !

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

floating above it all

just like a butterfly.

want some eye candy ? well here you go, enjoy !

Fly Casting- Pussy Galore and thoughts on Presentation Cast Accuracy


just the other day, a student asked me a very interesting question (and the kind i love to hear !):
“How can we be dead-on accurate when doing slack-line presentation casts ?”
well, the simple answer is we can’t, or at least not with any predictable consistency the competent caster might have when using straight-line presentations.

to further the simple answer, the reason we can’t be as consistent is that a line with slack in it isn’t under tension and therefore the caster isn’t completely in control of it no matter how experienced she/he might be.
the conundrum of this situation is:
– at all times we want to be as accurate as possible. if we can’t place the fly in a manner that will entice a fish we’re simply not fishing and if we do manage to hook up its just a matter of luck, not one based on our skills.
– including slack in our presentations, although not always necessary, is a fantastic way to catch a lot more fish. it’s that dead-drift thing with ummm, a turbo. sort of.
– any kind of wind from any direction severely compromises the outcome of any slack line presentation. the line/leader/fly gets pushed or pulled from the intended target.
– those are just a few examples but the sum of them mean we’re working in an unfavourable situation even if we have faith in our abilities.

however ! as bleak and hopeless as some of that may sound its really not hopeless at all, it just takes a little determination and maybe a lot of practice.
here’s an example filmed at least five years ago starring Pussy Galore !
a little info before the film.
– the idea here was to present the fluff in front of her cute little nose, upstream of the trout as it where.
– second goal was to try to entice her by using a ridiculously long, superfluous length of line to attempt this. once stretched out straight, the fluff might have fallen a bit short of the yellow ring in the background, that’s about twice the length from my feet to PG. i would never fish this way with so much slack mainly because its unproductive and pointless but the idea was to push the limits and see how much line control i could still manage even at this short range.

– out of nine casts, six where ‘probable’ takes (had that been a feeding fish and not some over-exherted cat that had been chasing fluff for the last hour), the others fell short or behind her head.

i used to do this kind of exercise all the time, basically every day. i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t get anywhere near six ‘probables’ today because i haven’t practiced this in a long time and that leads to the last part of the simple answer which connects to a saying i like to mindlessly repeat: practice doesn’t make perfect but it makes better, and this better and not perfection is the goal with real-fishing-situation presentation casts.
all we can do is assess the casting/fishing situation of the moment the best we can, adapt to it and put the fluff in front of PG’s cute little nose because we’ve worked a lot on our ca(s)ts while nevertheless accepting that the chances of success are reduced. besides, it makes the catch that much more worthwhile and memorable when i works.

Fly Fishing and Fly Casting- a Zen Approach

this kind of stuff is very close to my heart. its part of the intangibles that not only go into fly casting, fly fishing and to a much lesser extent fly tying but also manage to reach out to just about every other aspect in life. in a way, its what smoothes yet connects everything all together while making it all work better. call it a mind-frame, attitude, hippy shit or whatever you’d like but after all, its our mind that controls our acts when we know how to control our minds.

just one of the goodies you’ll find on Christopher Rownes’ great site The Perfect Loop, this great piece by Guy Turck of Turck’s Tarantula fame offers another perpective to some of my own writing- How to loose your flies in trees and Poetry, Grace, Fluidity and the S.R.B. and other articles in the Body and Mind section of the Fly Casting page here on TLC.

i hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from this. in my opinion, there’s a lot more to learn and gain from these words than any fishing or casting manual. its one i come back to regularly when i start to go astray…

” How do you make virtually any beginning or intermediate fly fisher improve immediately? And without a single casting tip or hint on tactics. You may be surprised to learn that it doesn’t require any physical changes whatsoever, yet has the potential to dramatically improve your skills. Whether it be getting your fly to the target more often, achieving a better drift, or hooking more fish the secret, in a word, is focus. And the lack thereof is responsible for more missed opportunities than any other single factor in fly fishing. We now tend to use modern colloquialisms for what singularly used to be referred to as concentration. I like the word focus because it most accurately evokes a feeling for the state of consciousness I am referring to. It seems to me that the modern conception of concentration implies a willful act (that of concentrating) on a singular point of interest while “being focused” refers to a similar state of being, but in a perhaps broader sense. But that’s just my interpretation of modern day language. Whether you prefer the word concentration or focus, it matters not. For the purposes of this column they are one in the same and will be used interchangeably throughout. I’m in the zone, Man, I’m in the zone! Focus is sometimes called “being in the zone.” “The zone” is a state of consciousness characterized by your total awareness converging on the task at hand. That task may require the assimilation of stimuli from a number of various sources (for example, knowing where all four of your teammates are on the basketball court at the same time) or it may require you to concentrate on a single point of interest when you determine it is in your best interests (for example, the front rim during a foul shot). You may well vacillate between a singular interest and a broader awareness. At the same time irrelevant stimuli (such as the screaming crowd) are filtered out. Whatever you do, it is imperative that said task be the most important thing in the world to you at the time.

Focus does not involve thinking and cannot be forced. You can only allow it to happen. In other words, if you are concentrating on concentrating, you are not concentrating at all. To put it all in plain english, too many fly fishers are simply not paying attention to what they are doing! Their thoughts are on the last fish they missed, the stock market, the last fish their friend missed, the bond market, a fish they hooked and lost ten years ago, whatever. Their mind is everywhere but in the present, the here and now. As a guide I am often regaled with someone’s “greatest day ever” fishing story while the storyteller is missing copious opportunities and perhaps an even greater day because of their constant chatter and corresponding lack of focus. I once had a client spend over half an hour on a yarn about a bowl of soup he once enjoyed. I’m not making this up. In the meantime he was missing fish after fish yet complaining he hadn’t gotten a big one yet. Sure enough, a well-endowed cutthroat finally gobbled his fly and … well, I really don’t need to tell you what happened next, do I? Other than what immediately followed was total silence (as I choked back the urge to scream).
Concentration and/or focus is a form of meditation where all but the task at hand is allowed to fall away. Responsibilities and worries are temporarily forgotten. The passage of time goes unnoticed. I often have clients who can’t believe how quickly the day is passing. I view this as a good sign. They are, at the very least, absorbed in the act of fly fishing which, to me, indicates a desire to learn, a very good starting point.

zen and stuff ftlow m.fauvet:tlc 26-1-15

Chill out and take a deep breath.


Over the years I have found that proper breathing is of great benefit in helping one achieve the proper focus whether it be on the stream, the golf course, or on the sharp end of the rope as the leader on a rock climb. Focus requires a relaxed (but not limp) body, in conjunction with an alert mind. As tension insidiously creeps into the body one has the tendency to hold one’s breath.
If time permits, three slow deliberate deep breaths will melt away the tension. It also helps tremendously to exhale just before performing an athletic act, such as casting a fly rod. As the last bit of air leaves the lungs, make your move.
This critical moment is when the body is most at rest and tension free. Another technique I can relate helps me focus on my target while casting, which translates into more accuracy. If you’ve ever been a baseball or softball pitcher, this will come naturally.
Pick out a target, and keep your eye on it until your fly arrives there (please read this sentence again).
If you do not allow your focus to waver from your target, it is truly amazing how the mind will make the muscles hit the mark with pinpoint precision. With good casting technique and practice you will eventually develop a feel for nailing your target simply by focusing on it. Think of it as willing your fly to the spot.
I’m reminded of a story I heard long ago which illustrates the importance and depth of concentration required for achieving pinpoint accuracy. The two best archers in the village were to test their skills against one another by attempting to hit a fish which had been hung on a somewhat distant tree. When the first archer was asked what he saw, he replied he saw a fish hanging from a tree. When the second, and ultimately victorious, archer was asked what he saw, he replied, “I see the eye of a fish.”The moral of the story for the focused angler is that when choosing a target, choose the exact location where you want your fly to land.
Don’t merely cast to a pool where you know a fish lies, cast to a one inch square within that pool. Focus on that one inch square. Be precise in your aim so that your cast can be precise as well, Capitalizing On Your Opportunities.
I don’t know how many times we’ll finish a day on a river and feel that while it was a slow day overall, had we capitalized on the opportunities we were presented, it would have turned out pretty well. This is because it is difficult to maintain focus on slow days when strikes might be separated by thirty minutes or so. But over an eight hour day, that’s sixteen strikes. Land half those fish and it’s not a half bad day. Air traffic controllers know this. They don’t work eight hours straight because it’s impossible to maintain the degree of vigilance necessary to perform their jobs at the level required. While lives are not on the line when fly fishing, there is still a lesson to be learned. Focus is difficult to maintain for long periods at a time. When fishing is slow and your attention is wavering there are two things I like to do to help keep my mind in the ball game. The first involves visualization. After a long period of inactivity most anglers will miss that first strike when it finally comes. To help prevent this from occurring, try visualizing a fish rolling up to eat your fly as it drifts along unmolested. This keeps your mind alert and your muscles in a state of readiness so they will react faster when the take eventually does come. It may sound obvious, but another good idea is to develop the habit of always paying attention to your fly when it is on the water. I have a rule for myself in this regard. Never leave a fly in the water unattended. If I want to look at the scenery, or take a drink of water, or perhaps watch my fishing partner, I take my fly out of the water. Why do that when I might actually get lucky by leaving my fly on the water? You know the old adage, you can’t catch a fish without your fly on the water. The reason is this … I want to develop the mind set that when my fly is on the water I am going to be paying attention to it at all times. It has to do with habits. I readily admit that I don’t always follow this rule, but I try to. Perhaps you’re skeptical at this point. The notion that concentration alone will make you the next Lee Wulff overnight might be stretching it a bit. You’re right, It won’t. But you will improve. With practice and good fundamental casting technique, you will get successively closer and closer to your target, ultimately willing your fly to the spot. By paying attention to surface currents you will get better drifts because you will instinctively know when to mend. And by not letting the mind wander you will hook more fish because your mind is alert. Putting it all together will still take time and practice, but your improvement can begin immediately, if you let it happen. “

 

Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice

dryflyfishing cover halfordanother doozy from the infamous “Detached Badger of “The Field” *,  Frederic Michael Halford, first printed in 1889 via openlibrary.org

while all of us in the Northern Hemisphere are secretly hating all those that aren’t, impatiently waiting for open waters and better days… here’s a more than amusing and informative and oh boy, once again reminder that while certain details have changed through fly fishing history, the bigger picture hasn’t evolved that much.

a few tidbits-

reels

rod action

changing

rod length
and if those don’t get your interest, this one on rod-holding ‘butt spears’ should do the trick.

butt spears

click either text/image to access the complete 400 or so page book. its well worth the read, besides, well, its well worth the read.
the guy sure had a lot to say about everything one might want to know and then more. enjoy !

* please don’t ask. i have no idea and i really don’t want to know.

some places just say “Cast me !”

this is where i regularly practice my casting when there’s no need for current. grass fields are ok and certain elements of different casts are best addressed on land but why not make it a bit more ‘real’ specially when that real is just a short drive from home in such a nice setting.
'cast me' ftlow m.fauvet:tlc 18-1-15
i’m holding a course today with two lovely and very enthusiastic people. that last part is what really pushes me to try to do my best. if i manage to fulfil half my personal expectations things should be more than fine for them. we still have a few things to work out on grass but next series of courses will be here, can’t wait to be back ‘home’.

Fly Casting- How to loose your flies in trees.

last month i had the honour of being invited to write a little piece for Eat Sleep Fish‘s third year anniversary.
here’s the article in its entirety. enjoy !


Catching trees and not fish is every fly angler’s dream

Let’s check out a few ways on how to do this and up your game.

'snagged' M.Fauvet:TLC 11-14

– One of the best ways to snag everything thats snaggable around us is to be completely oblivious of our surroundings.
Get to the water, jump in and start presenting your fly immediately. See a fish or a rise ? Forget everything else and cast to it instantly ! Somewhere deep inside us we know that fly casting takes roughly the same amount of space behind as it does in front but who cares ?! There’s a fish that needs tending to right away and we can’t be bothered with all that ‘theoretical‘ stuff at the moment. Follow those simple rules and you’ll be one of the best snaggers there is, loose a maximum amount of flies, turn a few hairs grey(er) and gain the highest respect among your fellow snaggers.

– Stage Two:  Snag Mastery
Through experience most probably acquired from the realisation that more trees have been caught than fish, we’ve also noticed that there are yes, trees and bushes but also a whole host of other snaggables such as barbed-wire fences, shores, fellow snaggers, rocks, the guy at the oars and more than a few cows and/or sheep. This has to be a conspiracy, they’re everywhere !
Even if we don’t want to publicly acknowledge it, Stage One left us some empty fly boxes and long-term bitter memories but we’re still intent on snagging everything that can be snagged so to get even better at this we start by staring at the snaggable with the idea that some magic will occur and the fly will just travel through or around the snaggable and the end result a less than fifty per cent chance of finally presenting the fly to a fish (at best). Non productive wishful thinking at its best !

Ok, I can hear you snickering and I completely agree: Enough with the reversed psychology silliness ! But, lets see why those two tips aren’t so silly after all once we’ve reversed them.

– Stage One is quite obvious but let’s think about why this phenomenon occurs.
Most of our senses, with vision being the most important for our fly fishing needs, are geared towards what’s in front of us. It’s just the way we’re made. Of course we all know this but its something that’s very easy to forget. Add the ‘buck fever’ effect, the senseless panic that can happen when seeing say, a rising or tailing fish to the equation and even that forward vision gets blurry and greatly reduced and its all downhill from there but luckily, solutions are easy and just need a little work.

– Firstly, practice your casts (and I do hope you do this at least somewhat regularly) by watching your back cast because we can’t know what’s going on there if we don’t look. As a first result of this observation, what inevitably happens is there’s a much greater overall control of the line. All the little details that aren’t details at all start getting better.
The timing of the Pause which tells us when to start the reversal stroke and helps preserve Line Tension and, Stroke Length and Rod Tip Trajectory which will give us better loops, specially tighter loops that are really necessary when aiming the cast in between obstacles. Add in working on efficient Power Application and there you have The Five Essentials of fly casting that lead to great line control and accurate placement of the fly.

A great way to do this exercise that I highly recommend is to cast across the body from left to right / right to left instead of front to back / back to front. Not only does this allow us to easily see the whole cast even with a very short line but maybe more importantly, this enables us do all this without any special neck twisting or back breaking contortions and wait ! There’s yet another bonus to this drill: You’ll also be practicing an essential cast that’s a real necessity when casting in tight places such as under trees and bushes: Side casts that keep the line low and to the side through those lovely tunnels we’ll so often find in small stream fishing.

This time I’m hearing mumbling but don’t fret ! All I’m suggesting is to learn to look at the back cast and be comfortable with turning back now and again to be sure everything’s spot on. We all know that watching the back cast isn’t what we typically want to be doing when we’re actually fishing but what we’ve learned throughout the practice sessions will follow us to the stream. Call it muscle memory, conditioned reflexes, magic or whatever you want but its real and its there to help us when we need it most but most definitely won’t be there if we don’t practise it. It’s just the way fly casting works.

One more thing before moving on to Stage Two. As noted above, we don’t always have the possibility to look behind at each back cast but a very simple tip that we can always do and seems to work for everyone is to look where the back cast will go before starting the casting cycle. We seem to have a sort of short-term spacial recognition memory within us and this looking back before keeps us out of a lot of trouble and that all sorta fits in with Stage Two.

– To be honest, this is the trickier one but it can be controlled and needs a bit of practice as well but its a mind-thing, not a casting one but one we’ll want to work on after the casting part is down pat. Here’s why.

Simply put, we’re conditioned to throw things at objects which we look at. As I often point out at courses, “if I want to throw a bowling ball at your nose I’m not gonna look at your feet”…
The more we concentrate on an object before and while we throw a projectile at it, the more chances we have of reaching our target. Apart from the inevitable casting motions, this is in my opinion the real key to consistent fly placement accuracy. Give it that ‘death stare’ and it goes straight to the target, but ! As far as the snaggables go we want to do the exact and very unnatural opposite which means being completely aware of the snaggable(s) without actually looking at it/them or we end up with what happened in the photo at the top of the page.
How do we do this ?  Easy. Given the above, look elsewhere !  (couldn’t help it.. ) But more seriously, just as with the ‘death stare’ accuracy tip above we simply need to learn to shift our focus away from the branch, to that empty space between those two sheep and most definitely away from the guy with the oars or the pole if you want to get home in one piece or to a lesser extent, not loose flies. Luckily, we’ll often have some other object behind and out of casting range to aim at. A leaf on a tree, another far away sheep or a blade of grass on the bank or a cloud or whatever. Give those things your ‘death stare’ and your line will go there and you’ll miss the obstacle. The biggest challenge happens when there’s absolutely nothing to aim at such as a blank sky or a snow covered bank but it still works well if we concentrate really hard on that ‘nothing’.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that flies left in trees obviously don’t catch fish but can catch, wound and/or kill a whole host of other animals like birds, small mammals, bats, monkeys and whatever else that climb or fly through trees and waterside vegetation and let’s not forget other anglers and people that like to enjoy the waterways as much as we do. Much more than the flies themselves or the gutting shame that occurs when I snag obstacles, its this last point that makes me want to be extra careful.

Marc Fauvet

Post Note- The image at the top wasn’t staged for this article and was a direct result of Stage Two. There was absolutely no other obstacle anywhere within casting range except this dead stupid stump and for some reason, I stared at it just long enough to catch it from 18 or so metres away on my back cast. Yes, this indeed happens inevitably a few times in the year and its almost always because I let my concentration slip. No-one’s perfect, specially not me…

 

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for a variety of fly casting related articles click HERE