Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

The Five Essentials

Doubtless you have heard of the Five Essentials but have you actually thought about them. No?, well you should.

 Casting God Bill Gammel and his father Jay Gammel synthesised overhead flycasting down to these essential elements. These are the things that must occur to produce the perfect flycast. There is not one that is more important than the other, they all have to meld together. But we have to start somewhere so, not in any particular order and certainly not in order of importance, here is my take on The Five Essentials.

”The rod tip must travel in a straight line throughout the casting stroke”

 This means not only backwards and forwards (tracking) but also horizontally.

 Tracking the tip in a straight line is the most efficient way to transfer energy, you cast from directly behind to directly ahead (180 deg). Unfortunately out of line tracking is one of the most common faults and I often see tracking that is 10 to 20 deg out of line. It means that you are losing a significant percentage of efficiency. I have heard of several methods to straighten tracking; cast an old rod or cane along a wall, cast along a line  on a football pitch, drop the occasional back cast and see where it is lying. One friend casts on a grass verge that is only a few feet wide. One of the best methods is to pick a target in front as well as behind you, a tree or chimney or the corner of a building and aim your cast at it. Whichever method you decide to use the results will be well worth it in the end.

 That’s the back and forward sorted now to the horizontal.

 What we are looking for is ‘straight line path’, SLP. This is where the load on the rod corresponds to the weight of the line we have aerialised and the rod tip bends to produce SLP, this will give us our nice tight loops. I like to look at it as slicing the top off an orange.

 SLP is one of the things you can alter to suit a particular situation, if you are casting a team of three flies you do not want a tight loop or you risk getting the flies tangled, you want a more open loop, so you track the tip in a more convex path. If you are casting into a wind you want a tighter loop that presents less surface so a flatter SLP is required.

 What you do not want is a concave tip path where the tip drops below SLP so this will lead us nicely onto the next Essential.


February 14, 2009 - Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage | , , ,


  1. Great site, lots of info which all becomes clearer after instruction! biggest problem we all suffer from is that we cannot see where we are going wrong? and it takes another to point out our errors, to this end thankyou very much for pointing out where I need to pay more attention! and for all of the other useful tips of how to overcome natural obstacles. To anyone else who reads this, book yourself a lesson, its fun and you will learn whether its on acuracy or distance, I know because I did.

    Regards – Alan

    Comment by Alan Sandom | February 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Aw shucks Allan, I’m blushing. I thought you deserved a proper lesson after using you as one of my original guinea pigs. I’m glad you enjoyed it, so did I.


      Comment by Mike Heritage | February 21, 2009 | Reply

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