Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

The Eyes Have It

Since I have started to try and teach myself left handed fly casting I have been pondering what is the single most important aspect of fly casting that is key to producing the perfect fly cast. For the life of me I cannot say that this or that is the most important because ‘this’ always depends on ‘that’ being right as well.

 I have said for years that a good, dynamic, back cast is the key to a good cast, and so it is, but, what do you have to do to create the perfect back cast? Ooh, let’s see,  perfect pickup or set up from the forward cast (and how do I set that up unless I have made the perfect back cast in the first place?), timing, power application, tracking, correct casting angle for amount of line/power, keeping everything in tension. Cor, look at that, I have just written the Five Essentials, and that’s the crux of the matter. Take one of them away and you have fucked up, to put it bluntly. There is just no way around it, all the elements of the Five Essentials have to be melded together to produce the perfect overhead cast, and most other casts for that matter.

 Before I heard of the Five Essentials my only option was trial and error as a way of trying to sort out (m)any casting problems I had. I fished for twenty five years before I got around to having my first proper lesson. That’s an awful lot of trial and error. If I had bothered to take a few fly casting lesson’s in year one I would have had the tools to work out my problems properly. This is exactly what the Essentials are, they are your tools of the trade.

 Once you have the tools you can set about building your cast. The only other thing you need is eyes. You use those to watch your loops, or your hand, or the rod tip. For Gods sake look at something, don’t just stare vacantly into space as I see a lot of casters do. If you have a problem seeing your back cast open up your stance a bit so that you can glance back without having to contort your neck or twist your body (that can ruin your tracking as you turn forward again).  Learn to read your fly line. Is the loop too open, is it tailing, is the fly leg waving around, are the rod leg and fly leg in plane, are there waves running down the rod leg as the loop moves away from you. Even when the line has hit the ground, or water, you can still read it. Is it straight, has it curved, did it turn over fully or did it land in a heap. All of these things will lead back to one, or more, of the Five Essentials not being performed properly.

 I think I have just answered my own question and created the Sixth Essential.

    Use Your Bloody Eyes.

 Some Essential reading  http://www.sexyloops.com/articles/adjustmentsonthefly.shtml

Or, if you are less picky https://michaelheritage.wordpress.com/2009/02/


September 4, 2009 - Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction | , ,


  1. Good blog Mike

    Especially the “sixth”.

    As I have got a little bit more aware of what to look for, I have noticed a subtlety in amongst perhaps the 5 best casters I have seen at first hand.
    It is the ability to FEEL what the rod and line is doing (and adjust accordingly) when you guys have an extraordinary length of line up in the air, that can escape most of the other distance casters that are not in the same league.

    Comment by Roger | September 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. sums it up very nicely, Mike. it’s all there.
    team that up with Bruce Richards Six Step Method and you get the whole picture, cause and effect.
    as with you, i just can’t figure out why anyone would refuse to look at their line.
    (and many if not most do !)

    agree with Roger too. feeling is a very important aspect that should be brought in at an early stage. pretty simple. practice casts with closed eyes or even better in the dark.
    Stefan often brings up “wait for the tug” and many disagree.
    i think that those who disagree haven’t either tried this or haven’t developed their ‘feeling’ to it’s potential.


    Comment by Marc LaMouche | September 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. Man, let me give you a hint about why people are reluctant to look at their backcast. I’m a beginner. I’m doing it because the pros like you tell me to do so. And it hurts and here’s why:
    1) Fear. I’m not kidding. People, and especially experienced people, more or less consciously know that something goes wrong back there, but hope for the best and concentrate forward. They don’t want to see the mess, as long as the job is done. Of course they cannot really progress, but usually one tries to fish around the deficiencies
    2) Fatigue. Flipping one’s head right and left like that is tiring, much more when trying not to ruin your tracking doing so.
    3) Cognitive overload. Looking at your backcast when you’re not used to it is like looking at your feet when running down the stairs. The brain tries to catch up with the data, fails, result is usually messy.
    first thing looking back did to me: ruining my 40ft cast. I hope it will repay eventually, but the beginning hurts.

    Comment by la barbe du hotu | December 1, 2011 | Reply

  4. Interesting site you have there, it’s a shame I don’t speak French, thank goodness for Bing translation.

    I know looking back is awkward at first but the rewards are worth it. I don’t do while fishing though, well, not as often anyway.

    Thanks for dropping by. (whoever you are)

    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 1, 2011 | Reply

    • hi,
      (I’m Laurent)
      awkward but rewarding is really the name of my game these days. I’m an old time reader of sexyloops, but I only took up fly fishing seriously very recently. I’ve fished a couple of months, enough to build bad habits. I was probably at the top of what could be done with the defect I had, so I decided it was time to rebuild from scratch. so I’m enduring plenty of awkwardness in hope of future rewards.
      last bit was changing the grip…

      this blog is a very interesting read for someone learning the ropes, btw

      Comment by la barbe du hotu | December 2, 2011 | Reply

  5. Hi Laurent, kind words, thank you. You can always email me if you want help with anything in particular.


    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 2, 2011 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: