Fly Casting- How straight is Straight Line Path ?

Making Adjustments on the Fly B.Gammel

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

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

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

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

'SLP' Borger:Lovoll FC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fly Fishing and Fly Casting- a Zen Approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chill out and take a deep breath.

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


Fly Casting Grip Styles: The Index on Top

Is it time for a Grip Switch?
By Joe Mahler via Sage Blog

“When the subject of grip comes up and I express that I prefer the Index on top, the response is usually something like, “I can see using that for little short casts” followed by a schoolmarm-like finger pointing motion. But you might be surprised to find that, when done properly, the index on top grip offers the same power with less effort expended by the caster, than the Thumb on top or the V-grip.”

for the longest of times i was one of those “I can see using that for little short casts”-only types as well until i started to experiment with different grip styles not only for myself, but also as alternative ways to help my casting students.
having understood maybe ten years ago that the ‘thumb on top’ grip wasn’t for me and that it left a very unnatural feeling and consequent poor back casts, overall inconsistency, wimpy distance and all the combined nasties where specially highlighted when doing accuracy, speys and slack/curved/piled and whatever-else presentation casts.
the ‘V’ grip went a long way to help me control the rod better but easy and more importantly, precisely applied leverage was reduced because it means reducing hand-length contact area on the rod grip, the shorter of the three main styles. (see image below) for some reason it also fatigued my wrists more, specially when doing non-linear casts.
as a reminder, the three main styles are Thumb on Top, Index on Top and V grip. i’ll exclude Jason Borger’s excellent Three-Point grip from our ‘main’ list being a combination of thumb and index grips.

when thinking about how to perform a specific cast i like to think of it as ‘drawing’ figures with the rod tip as if there was a marker on the tip of the rod and i was drawing on either a rigid or flexible board. with the index i also ‘tell’ the line where to go by pointing at the trajectory it should take and where it should go. the correlation pointing index/rod tip is at its highest and that’s made me a better, more consistant caster.
pointing or drawing with our index finger is intuitive whereas the only time i can think of where we point with the thumb is when hitch-hiking.
(this might also be one of the reasons people tend to not pick up hitch-hikers any more: they’re pointing unnaturally and this sets off an immediate sense of mistrust… )

anyhow, grip styles are just that, styles. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any style as long as it suites the user and suits them well. the Index on Top happens to suite me best and as such i can’t help but think that it might help others. i don’t initially teach this style but its helped more students get over common problems than i can think of, so i guess that speaks for itself.

“As you know, the rod is a lever. Think of the hand as the lever that works the lever. Comparing the two grips, you will notice that the index finger extends considerably further up the cork than the thumb.”

Joe-Mahler-FOT- leverage

for more on how this grip style can be beneficial for you and maybe enhance your performance, click the image above for Joe’s most-excellent complete article. i hope you’ll give it a good try. enjoy !

Fly Casting- Shared Mechanics Concepts between Overhead and Spey Casts

by Dr. Way Yin via Virtual Fly Casting

always a bit dismayed by comments both in real and on the internet of how different aerial and spey casts are, this great article by one of the more knowledgable persons in this matter should hopefully set a few things straight both for the angler assimilating one method to the other and for casting instructors who have gone astray.

shared mechanics concepts between overhead and spey casts way yin
hmmm, sounds like The Five Essentials so commonly associated to single hand overhead casting doesn’t it ?
among all the other goodies, of special interest is Way’s disassociating views between the standard roll cast and the delivery/forward cast of a spey cast.
we tend to define a spey cast as a ‘change of direction line move followed by a roll cast’ but maybe it’s time to rethink the last part a little.

way yin 2

– there was more to Yin’s article via a link when this article was published but that site doesn’t exist anymore. sad indeed but we’ll just have to do with what we have.
nevertheless, the condensed version still leaves a lot of food for thought.

Fly Casting- The Pull Through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck!
Mel Krieger

Fly Casting- Some thoughts on Instruction and Descriptions from Mel Krieger

an excerpt from The Essence of a Fly Cast – Mel Krieger via Christopher Rownes

words, words, words. we need them to teach fly casting but if they’re not carefully chosen they can lead to confusion.
for instance, a pet peeve of mine is Joan Wulff’s ‘Power-Snap’.
in my mind, and something i’ve often witnessed in person is, when described to a novice caster those two words connected together often result in too much power and too much snap: things that get them in trouble real quick.
another one is the infamous ‘stop’ which we’ve already scratched the surface on that deserves an in-depth article of its own but in the meantime, what this article mostly reminds me of is there’s two basic approaches (or maybe mental-frames) to how the rod moves and how it affects the line. i like to refer to them as-

Hand Centric and Tip Centric.

in the first case, instruction and casting movement is envisioned around what the casting hand does and in the second, what the rod tip does.
it goes without saying that the hand needs to move the rod butt to eventually make the rod tip move but i by far prefer to focus on what the tip is doing because it’s the rod tip that’s the final element affecting the fly line and this greatly affects our understanding of concepts such as the ‘stop’, rod bend/rod shortening, straight or curved line path, rod straight position, counterflex or: just about anything that has to do with the casting stroke. besides, thinking about your rod tip is a lot sexier than the usual dirty, ill-manicured hand…

needless to say i’m happy to see a similar hand/tip approach coming from a Top-Gun like Mister Krieger. i sure wish i could have met him.

Mel’s approach on this and a whole host of other matters remain some of the better ones i’ve seen and leaves a lot of food for thought. enjoy !

All fly casting, no matter how descriptive and analytical the directions and teachings, must finally conclude kinaesthetically – that is by feel.
The only way to learn this unique feel of casting a long weighted line with a flexible rod is to experience it; not unlike the learning process of riding a bicycle for the first time. Convincing or inspiring the learner to jump on the bike and go for it may well be the ultimate instructional mode. Casting a fly is identical, and again like riding a bike, virtually every person who is not severely handicapped can learn the timing and feel of fly casting simply by casting.
There is of course a place for other instruction even in this basic learning cycle that may help the learner focus his or her efforts and hasten that learning process. That would include analogies, visuals and key words and phrases, techniques that are also used for intermediate and advanced fly casters. Although most of these instructional tools are valid and useful to the learner, there are times when they can actually inhibit learning and possibly lead to serious casting faults. The following are some possible examples.
“Throwing a ball” is an excellent analogy for communicating the athleticism and fluidity of a natural throwing motion. It can, however lead to the use of too much wrist movement and a throwing motion that fails to utilize the bending and unbending of a fly rod.
Words like “whump,” “snap,” “flick,” “flip” and “pop” are commonly used to convey the feeling of bending (loading) and unbending a fly rod. Again, they are mostly good words, but often misconstrued to indicate a too-quick loading and unloading of the fly rod, resulting in a dip of the fly rod tip and tailing loops. Spelling whump with two or three “U”s – “whuuump” or possibly “snaaap” might be of help, especially for longer casts.
Phrases like “accelerate to a stop,” “speed up and stop” and “start slow and end fast” are common instructional tools that accurately depict the tip of the rod during a casting stroke. Many learners however, attempt to emulate those slow to fast directions with their casting hand, often with poor results. A more useful instructional phrase might be “a smooth even hand movement to a stop.” The result will actually be the rod tip accelerating throughout the casting stroke.
Another common phrase that has almost become a mantra in fly casting is “Applying power too early in the casting stroke creates a tailing loop.” This statement is actually incorrect. It is possible to apply maximum power in the beginning of a casting stroke. The key to a good cast is maintaining or even increasing the rod bend throughout the stroke. The real culprit in this tailing loop concept is unloading the rod too soon.

In the pull-through casting stroke, the casting hand precedes the rod tip through most of the casting stroke and the turnover and stop takes place only at end of the casting stroke.
Lay out 70 or so feet of fly line on a lawn behind you, fly rod pointing to the fly, and throw a javelin, turning the rod over only at the very end of the throw. You may be pleasantly surprised with this extreme pull through casting motion.

Let’s look more closely at a fly casting stroke. The first step in all fly casting strokes is “bending the rod. Significant movement of the line only takes place after the rod bend.
Starting a casting stroke too slowly, or for that matter too quickly, commonly results in a poor rod bend and an inefficient cast. Think of starting strong or heavy, forcing a bend in the rod as the casting stroke begins. A somewhat better description of a casting stroke might be “bend the rod and sling the line” or “bend the rod and accelerate to a stop”, or whatever words work for you following “bend the rod and …”. Casting the fly line from the water and changing the back and forth direction of the line helps to start the casting stroke with a good rod bend. Notice that many casters make their best back cast from the water. That’s because the friction of the water puts a decided bend in the fly rod early in the casting stroke! A roll cast however requires a more forceful rod bend as it does not have the loading advantage of a water pickup or an aerialized line between back and forward casts.

The roll cast can be an excellent entry to the unique feel that exists in fly casting. Forcing the rod into a bend and keeping it bent – finally unloading (stopping) in the intended direction of the cast – almost like putting a casting loop in the fly rod itself.

for the second part of this article: The Pull-Through click here

who wants to play ?

“If you don’t know where the fish lie but can cast well enough to cover all the water with finesse, you are likely to solve the mystery and catch fish. If you know where they lie but can neither reach them or present the fly naturally, you are not even in the game”
Joan Wulff

Fly Fishing- The No Casters

By Aitor Coterón

follows is an article i’ve always found interesting. written a few years back,  Aitor’s opinions reflect the condition in Spain but we’ll find that it still applies just about anywhere.

” Charles Ritz defined time ago three basic types of fly anglers: conscious casters, non-conscious casters and non-interested casters. Had Mr. Ritz been still alive he could discover by himself that he had missed another kind: those that not only say that perfecting your fly casting is useless, but make every effort to discredit and insult those who believe and do just the opposite. The number of these individuals is really small -as small, by the way, as the number of anglers really interested in fly casting but they are determined to try to destroy what they don’t like. Their arguments are basically two:

Firstly, that good fly casting technique, including a good repertoire of presentation casts, is not only completely useless for getting good fishing results, more than that, the best casters are, without exception, very poor anglers -don’t worry Paul, I won’t tell anybody 🙂

More than 30 years ago, in Spain there were just a handful of anglers fishing with fly-rod and fly-line. At that time, fly fishing was synonymous of coq de Leon wet flies and a bubble float. And that was the kind of fishing that my grandpa and his fishing buddy taught to me. However I knew that there was another technique; I don’t remember when or where I had discovered it, probably on an old issue of “Field & Stream” that I inexplicably found (as my father wasn’t a fisherman) in my father’s library. That technique fascinated me, so I was talking to my grandpa about it day in day out. It was then that I discovered that he even had a fibreglass fly rod and a fly reel (some gift, I suppose), so I was delighted expecting that I was just about to discover a new world. But it turned out that the discovery should wait some more years yet: my grandfather did his best to dissuade me of trying to learn the “new” technique, and his discouragement and the lack of information ended up frustrating my expectations.

“Fly fishing is good for American rivers, it doesn’t work on our streams”, that was my grandfather’s version of the present motto “fly casting is unnecessary”. Traditionalism rejecting new ideas is no wonder though, of course, it doesn’t prevent that fly fishing was as universally effective as fly casting is one (not the only one) of the pillars of fishing with fly rod and line.

Secondly, the anti-casting crusade repeats (as an incontrovertible proof of his first point and assuming that those who win fishing championships are better anglers than everybody else) that competition fly fishers don’t give a damn about fly casting. It’s no wonder that when you are Czech nymphing, fly casting technique is no use -even fly fishing gear is a hindrance: there are more suitable kinds of tackle for fishing more effectively a nymph under the rod tip- but when using other fishing techniques fly casting is essential. Those competitors than don’t rely exclusively on Czech nymphing are aware of the fact that presentation and good casting are intimately related and, when fishing still waters from the bank, the ability to cast far can be a determining factor.

Last week a Spanish competitor, Jonathan Torralbo, won second place in the Fly Fishing World Championship held in Portugal (congratulations for him). Jonathan is a good distance caster and eager to improve, so recently he has been perfecting his technique with Alejandro, the master of Spanish distance casting.

So, competition fly fishers don’t give a damn about fly casting? It seems that -as the Spanish saying goes- some people are more papists than the Pope himself.
Of course, everybody is free of sustaining those arguments against the fly casting practice, but nobody is entitled to defend his points calumniating and twisting his opponent’s arguments. That attitude gets outside the field of fly fishing debate and gets into the area of psychology.