Paul Arden said he sees the Five Essentials as a filter. I may gradually be getting to understand what he meant.
As long as people have been fly casting they have discovered for themselves that if I do this, that will happen. The Five E’s are not new, they have always been there but it took a lot of observation and analysis by Bill and his father Jay Gammell to synthesise all the possibilities down to just the five. The fly casting instructing brotherhood owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
But, are they Essential? My dictionary has essential as meaning vitally important, absolutely necessary. Not so. You can stand on any water in the country and see fly fishers having a perfectly good time with casts that don’t conform to one, two or even three of the essentials but the fly lands on the water and they catch fish.
It is not strictly necessary to pause if you cast with a very convex tip path over a short distance, so SLP isn’t strictly essential either. And if we think about it I am sure we could all come up with other examples. Ok, it’s not pretty but it is effective enough to do the job.
If the Essentials were so essential we wouldn’t be able to turn a tailing loop into a presentation cast or open the loops to cast a team of flies.
If the Essentials are not Essential then what are they? Perhaps we could call them the Five Ifs, such as;
If you paused between strokes you wouldn’t keep cracking your bloody fly off.
If you cast with a straight line tip path you might, one day, create a loop worthy of the name.
If you smoothed out your application of force you might just stop casting those bloody tailing loops.
If you opened your casting arc and lengthened your stroke you just might be able to aerialize that fifty feet of line dangling off the end of your rod tip.
It might also help If you got rid of all that damn slack before you pick up.
We could also add my sixth If.
If you don’t use your eyes how the heck do you know what you’re doing?
I quite like the Five Ifs.
We could have the Five Rules, after all rules are meant to be broken and I know one or two people who specialize in breaking the rules (Marc) but if you keep to the rules you should get good results and if you bend the rules you might create a nice presentation cast, or not (Marc).
The problem is that the Five Essentials have become sacrosanct, indoctrinated and embedded to the point where they have become fly casting fact instead of fly casting guidance. They are a great instructing tool. They are superb for casting analysis. They are a great starting point. They just ain’t Essential.