Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Mechanical Or Essential?

What are the mechanics of a fly cast? I was asked this recently and suddenly found it wasn’t an easy question to answer.

Is it the Five Essentials? No is my answer, although one of them may touch on mechanics.

Do the mechanics change depending on what cast you are making? I don’t think so. Technique will vary from cast to cast (and even from person to person) but it won’t alter the mechanics.

The mechanics are to do with what we are trying to do, what we are using to do it and what we have to do to achieve it.

We are trying to cast a linear mass.

We are using a flexible lever to cast the linear mass.

We have to apply a force to the flexible lever to cast the linear mass.

The linear mass is the fly line (of course). The mass is infinitely variable depending on the weight of the line and how much of it we are trying to move.

The flexible lever is the rod (doh) and, again, its flexibility is variable (but not infinitely, they have a habit of breaking if pushed too far) depending on what the designer desired when he designed it and the materials he used.

The force we apply is muscular, and once more, is variable.

You will notice a lot of variables in there, which is where the Five Essentials come in to try to explain how to marry the mechanics with all those variables to produce a nice fly cast.

The rod can only do two things on its own. Exist and straighten. Its existence we take for granted, it cost us money so it had better be there when we want it. The straightening  happens when we have applied a rotational force that bends it against the mass of the fly line then stopped our hand at the end of the casting stroke which allows the rod to recover to its normal straight existence while imparting a little more velocity to the line in the process.

Although we try to bend the rod we are actually trying to keep the fly line straight during the stroke so that we can take full advantage of its mass. An out of linear mass (slack) is not an efficient way of trying to move it or move it at all if there is too much slack. A line under tension is also a requirement for the loop to propagate most efficiently from the rod tip to the end of the leader.

Now you have to match the variables intrinsic in the rod and line with your body. The best way is to learn to use your muscles and joints as they were intended to be used, that’s to say use all of them from the legs up. Move from the strongest to the weakest, especially the arm. Shoulder, elbow, wrist.

There are some very technical papers out there that explain the mechanics of fly casting, they usually involve lots of numbers and symbols. Luckily for me I don’t need them to understand that if I apply a rotational force to this stick that piece of string attached to the other end will deliver my fly to that tasty little trout sipping olives under the far bank.

That’s what it’s all about.


October 7, 2011 - Posted by | fly casting, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | ,


  1. Absolutly brilliant!

    Comment by Lasse Karlsson | October 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thanks Lasse.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | October 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. i very much agree with Lasse 🙂 thanks Mike.

    Comment by Marc Fauvet | October 15, 2011 | Reply

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