Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Essential No 2

The Next Essential I want to talk about states,

” The casting angle must vary according to the amount of line we have outside the rod tip”.

 Now we are into variable casting arc. I will use the term casting angle rather than arc.

 One thing to bare in mind when reading this  is that the line always follows the rod tip.

 Casting angle is the angle change at the rod butt from rod straight position at the start of the stroke to rod straight position at the end of the stroke  (RSP to RSP).  In other words from the rod starting to load at the beginning of the stroke to moment it unloads at the end of the stroke. It does not take into account any lateral hand movement, if there is any, that’s a stylistic thing and not essential.

 Basically the Essential is saying that the more load you put into the rod the deeper the rod will bend and the wider the casting angle has to be to create SLP  (see the first article).

 I’m going to have to use a clock face now, not something I like but there you go.

 Say you are casting 20′ of line, the rod would hardly load and the casting angle would be something like two minutes to twelve to two minutes passed twelve to create tight loops, now we add 10′ and the casting angle would have to increase to five to twelve to five passed twelve, add another 20′ and the casting angle increases to ten to twelve to ten passed twelve and so on and so on. Simple. But, there are other variables to take into account such as the action of the rod. A softer actioned rod will load deeper than a fast actioned rod so will need a wider casting angle than the fast actioned rod for the same amount of line outside the tip. You can alter the amount of load in the rod by increasing or decreasing the amount of power you apply to the stroke, you might want a delicate 30′ cast to present a dry fly or a 30′ powerful into the wind cast both will put different loads into the rod and require different casting angles.

 If the casting angle is too large for the amount of line you are casting you will get wide loops because the tip path is too convex. If the casting angle is too narrow for the amount of line you are casting the rod tip will actually drop below SLP and you will get tailing loops because you have created a concave tip path. Don’t forget the line follows the rod tip, if the tip drops below SLP at any point during the stroke the top or fly leg of the line will actually be below the rod leg and the line will have crossed itself, this is a tailing loop, the thing that gives you those evil wind knots.

 Variable casting arc is a bit like learning to ride a bike, it takes a bit of practice but once you have it it becomes ingrained in your stroke and you will hardly ever have to think about it again. You have just learned how to cure tailing loops as well, just open up your casting angle a bit.


February 15, 2009 - Posted by | fly casting | ,


  1. Great Blog Mike, I’m enjoying reading your thoughts/ theories and learning a lot.

    I have a question about the application of Power. What is power and where does it come from? Is it the speed at which the casting stroke is made or perhaps the stop at the end of stroke. I’ve heard some instructors say that the casting stroke is not about power and that we should try and reduce the power as much as possible.



    Comment by James Britten | February 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. ”I’ve heard some instructors say that the casting stroke is not about power and that we should try and reduce the power as much as possible.”

    Most beginners and a lot of intermediates tend to use too much power, by learning to reduce power we learn just how little effort is needed to make a successful cast, we also learn to let the rod do more of the work.

    Even a minimum power cast has power application. Power comes from the caster in the form of rotating the rod through the stroke. He applies, and maintains enough to bend the rod to the correct flex for the amount of line he is casting. The aim is to achieve the SLP (straight line path) that will result in nice tight loops.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | February 25, 2009 | Reply

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