Presentation Casts- DownStream Dry Fly

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

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

Jason Borger ffw-undercutdrop

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

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

 

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

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

Fly Casting Instruction Breakthrough- How to control someone else’s casting arm with your brain

you’ve attempted everything; you’re trying to help out this lost soul with his casting but whatever you do he has no control whatsoever over his wrist and it’s flip-flopping-flailing all over the place, so is the rod and of course so is the fly line.
he’s embarrassed, frustrated and is having second thoughts about suicide and you, poor instructor are wondering how this guy has gotten through life so far without swallowing his own tongue.

casting hammers

snickering blatantly, motherly insults and verbal threats start the healing process but remain sterile. the Casting Hammers aren’t working (one for each knee), there’s blood, snot and tears all over the rod you lent him for the course (he doesn’t know it yet but he’s just bought your whole outfit at four times its original cost), your Xanax bottle is empty and if you’re not lucky to be bald yet you’re probably pulling out enormous grey tufts whilst trying to figure out what to do next when low and behold, all of a sudden some science geeks in the form of helping angels working out of their parent’s garage have come to save the casting world with just a few old radio parts, suction cups, alligator clips and a low-end model iPad, the whole lot is easily transportable to the casting field in a messenger bag.

wipe the sucker down (be sure to over-charge him for the towels and antiseptic) plug him in and finally get him to cast properly for the first time in his life. at this point it doesn’t really matter if he’s conscious or not because we’ll be working on electrically-induced muscle memory that’ll automatically be stored in his inner him. you’re now in charge, just as it should be.

yeah i know, that was silly (except for the Casting Hammers. i do use them frequently and they work a charm, believe me) but you know, casting, fishing, chocolate, science, dreams and realities all blur into one at a certain point…

brainwashem’ young- Maxine’s amazing Gold Medal

i’m both speechless, sporting a huge grin, absolutely amazed and just all-around happy-extatic  for what this means for children, girls, women, any fly angler/caster and the future of fly fishing in general. here’s why:

Maxine-McCormick-with-medals-211x300

” At the U.S. National Casting Championships in Long Beach, Maxine McCormick finished fourth in fly casting accuracy behind only the world’s best, made the All-America team and bested the all-time women’s mark. That’s right, at age 11, she had the highest women’s score in history. She also broke seven junior national records in different events.

To put it in perspective, casters are scored in accuracy on a scale of zero to 300 in three events. Maxine scored a combined 289 in three events for fly accuracy. That tied for the fourth highest among all casters, no matter age, gender or past achievements.

Maxine’s 289 beat the all-time record for women, 286, set in the 1990s by Canada’s top champion, Brenda McSporran.

So what happened is that 11-year-old old Maxine just scored higher than any female in the history of the American Casting Association and was only outscored by Steve Rajeff, myself and father Glenn by just one point,” said Chris Korich of the Golden Gate Casting Club. “

for more on this amazing feat click the image above for the full article. enjoy !
for more amazing fly fishing kids here’s the complete brainwashem’ young series to share with your little ones.

SloMo Spey

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

 

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

Fly Casting- Casting by hand

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

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

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

Fly Casting- The Foundation Casting Stroke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JB's FCS 303fps slomo

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

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

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Fly Casting- The Anchor does Not load the rod.

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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 ! 

SLP length Borger:Lovoll

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.