Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Hang On!

Hang time. I have seen the expression and never really gave it much thought. To be honest I am not entirely sure exactly what it means. I take it to mean the length of time the line is in the air, after loop formation,  before it drops to the water, but I could be wrong. For the purposes of this post that is what I am going to assume it means.

Has anyone heard the theory that if a bullet is fired from a gun horizontally and you drop a bullet from the same height at the same time they will both hit the ground at the same time? Whats that got to do with fly casting you ask. Well, believe it or not its the same when casting a fly line. Ten feet or one hundred feet, if the line was cast horizontally the line takes exactly the same time to hit the ground. After extensive experimentation, I mean at least half an hour, casting various lengths of line as horizontally as it was possible for me to do, I conclude that horizontal hang time for a 6’2” man casting a 9′ rod is approximately three seconds. In essence this means the only difference between a 10′ cast and a 100′ cast is line speed. Of course this isn’t the entire story, we rarely cast horizontally for one thing. For short casts we cast below horizontal (so hang time will be less) and for long casts we cast above horizontal (so hang time will be more). The question is how much more? one second? two seconds? And, on real distance stuff, it doesn’t matter how high a trajectory you fire the line at there will nearly always be some sag in the belly of the line as its shooting that will hit the ground first. You have to remember the rod leg will start to be affected by gravity almost immediately, even if it is being shot. This is why you often see distance casters raise the rod tip as high as they can as line is being shot in an effort to keep the belly off the ground as long as possible, especially as the loop gets near the end of its travel. It will also make a difference what line you use. A long belly WF or a DT will tend to sag more, and therefore hit the ground earlier, than a mid to short bellied WF’s. The trade-off is that you have a lot more line aerealized with the long belly (perhaps nearly twice as much as you could with some short bellied WF’s) so the loop has a longer line to transmit itself along before it runs out of steam. Where as it is entirely possible, with some lines, the loop still has a lot of energy left at turnover but the dynamic ability of the loop to pull out running line is now lost and the whole thing collapses in a heap. This is especially prevalent with short shooting heads.

So, a distance cast is a balance between the loop having sufficient speed to pull out the running line (and hopefully some backing), having sufficient tension to keep the belly from sagging too much, have sufficient energy to get to turn over the leader and the right trajectory that is just high enough to do the job but not so high that the drag kills the cast. All this in a time-frame of five seconds, or less.


August 21, 2011 - Posted by | Distance casting, fly casting, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized


  1. Hi Mike,

    So have you reconsidered the comments that followed on from your ‘Nervous twitch’ post?
    Shame about Cuba – some of the biggest bones I’ve ever seen are on Waikiki beach, right next to the sign that says theres a $1000 fine for just holding a fishing rod in the area!

    Comment by James Evans | August 22, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi James. I vertical rod should also give you a higher launch point, maybe a foot or two depending on what your natural cant is so that will also add a few extra moments for the belly to stay off the ground as well as getting a foot or two more distance.

    Yeah, shame about the bones but there is always next time.


    Comment by Mike Heritage | August 22, 2011 | Reply

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