Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Be Still, My Beating Heart

If someone asked you what defined fly casting to you what would your answer be? The fly? The symmetry of the back and fore cast? the line we have to use? For me it is the loop. I find the loop endlessly fascinating, not the least because I don’t understand the forces involved. The loop is dynamic, I feel it has life. Of course it hasn’t got life, it’s not sentient but it is the beating heart of a good fly cast.

Because fly lines tend to be mono coloured it’s difficult, if not impossible, to actually see what happens when we create a loop, all we see is the shape moving down the line. If you take the time and marker pen the line so you have black and white bands every four or five hundred millimeters you start to see a whole new universe open up before your eyes. You suddenly see the loop is actually a wave traveling  down the rod leg. You see the fly leg whizzing along, feeding into the loop and then just being part of the static rod leg (if you don’t shoot line). It becomes even more fascinating when you start messing around with presentation casts. Do some wiggles and the line actually appears to come back towards you. Snap casts can produce some vomit inducing optical confusion as the bands on one part of the line move in opposition to other parts of the line.

You can have fast loops, slow loops, wide loops, narrow loops, pointy loops, rounded loops, vertically orientated loops, horizontally orientated loops and upside down loops, there is even a photo somewhere on Sexyloops of Ben Spinks casting a square loop (God help me if I haven’t tried to create one of my own).

I sometimes look at a loop, especially one that is very slow, and wonder at it’s ability to turn the leader over. But it does, somehow. There is a loop shape we now call dolphin nosed because of the kink immediately behind it in the fly leg. As far as I can make out the loop is at near stall speed, it looks as if it should collapse, but it doesn’t, it just keeps rolling along and will even turn the leader over. When I first started to notice this loop shape I was preparing for my CCI and assumed it was a fault in my casting. I posed the question on Gordy Hills group and had a reply from Bruce Richards that if he saw one in a test he would regard it as the sign of a good caster. I now regard it as a sign that the caster has the ability to control the amount of force they apply to the line (ok, I know we apply force to the rod, but you know what I mean). It’s the amount of force we apply and the way we transfer that force to the line via the stop that creates the different loop shapes. High line speed, a hard stop and some counterflex will give you the classic top pointed ‘sexyloop’. A softer or dampened stop will give you a more rounded loop. Some rods, and even lines, are more inclined to throw one or the other naturally. There was a time, not so long ago, that if someone handed me their rod to have a cast with (for some reason I sometimes had to wrench it out of their hands first) the first thing I would do is strip all the line off the reel and either see how much line I could aerialize or see how far I could cast it, or both. These days I am more likely to see what loop shapes I can create first……..then try and blast the thing.


February 26, 2012 - Posted by | Distance casting, fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized


  1. spoken like a true poet ! :mrgreen:
    good one Mike. it’s all about the magic of the loop (and therefore fly line for those who still want to debate what fly fishing is… 😆 )

    Comment by Marc Fauvet | February 26, 2012 | Reply

  2. Didn’t know about that statement by Bruce. I think it makes lots of sense. The question for the master test should be: Why a dolphin nosed loop is the hallmark of a good caster? 🙂

    Comment by aitorsnakeroll | February 26, 2012 | Reply

  3. Topical Mike! I had spent an hour this morning with a fat, black marker pen and my orange Barrio SLX; I now have an orange-and-black hooped fly line. Then out to the car-park across the road to mesmerise myself watching the loops…

    Comment by andrew parker | February 26, 2012 | Reply

  4. This is one for my next day on grass, the “banded” line I have seen before, I’m not sure but I think Loop tried it out a year or so back,haven’t heard much since then. Thanks Mike always good to read your contributions to life.

    Comment by nirogers | February 26, 2012 | Reply

  5. You get a better class of loop with a Barrio line Andrew.

    Thanks Nigel.

    I spent months trying to eradicate it Aitor. I had asked questions but no-one seemed to understand what I was on about (so whats new?)

    I think I am unclassified Marc, neither poet or engineer.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | February 26, 2012 | Reply

    • Nothing new, Mike. It is the same old stuff.

      Comment by aitorsnakeroll | February 26, 2012 | Reply

  6. Lee was the first guy I saw do the marker pen thing years ago. I like it but it gives me a headache after a while!

    Comment by Steve kemp | February 29, 2012 | Reply

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