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/

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September 4, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction | , , | 7 Comments

Essential No 5

There can be no slack in the casting system during the application of power.

”During the application of power”, that’s the bit to remember. After you have stopped you can do whatever you like, and we often do, to make fancy presentation casts or shoot line when false casting.

 Where is slack likely to occur and what will it do to the cast?

 If you have got to the double hauling stage there are a couple of things that can give you slack. If your loops are not dynamic enough to properly straighten the line you will lose effective casting angle because the rod will have to move a substantial distance into the next stroke before the slack is removed so your effective casting angle is now not wide enough for the amount of line you are casting (see, I told you these Essentials all meld together). The same thing will happen if you automatically raise your hauling hand to the ‘ready’ position instead of feeding it back against the tension in the line. Just take a look at the slack between your hauling hand and the butt ring, that’s got to go somewhere and that will be in losing effective casting angle again.

 I’m not sure if I have already mentioned effective casting angle before. It’s the powered part of the casting angle, the bit where you are actually moving the line in the direction of the cast. Now, you might want that to be 10 to 2 because your brain is telling you that that is the correct casting angle for amount of line you are casting but you have taken your hauling hand up too soon so the rod may not acquire the line until 12 so your effective casting angle has now been reduced from 10 to 2 to 12 to 2 and you tail. That’s what slack can do to you.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction | , | Leave a comment

Essential No 4

In order for the rod tip to move in a straight line you must apply power in a smooth acceleration from RSP to RSP.

 To keep a rod loaded correctly you have to apply a continuous force to it…continuously! right up to the moment you stop applying force anyway, that’s called the stop.

 Acceleration through the stroke has to do just that, accelerate. It’s not a 10, 10, 10 thing it’s a 5, 10, 20 thing. You start slow and finish fast, a bit like sex.

 So, what happens if you don’t apply power properly?, usually the tip rises as the rod tries to unload prematurely ( I wish I hadn’t mentioned sex now). That puts a buckle in SLP and hey presto you have just tailed. Or, you apply too much power too soon and the tip drops below SLP and then rises as the system reaches some sort of equilibrium, bingo, you just tailed again.

 At the other end of the scale if you don’t apply enough power the rod tip will not flatten enough and it will describe a dome shaped path and you will have wide loops.

 I was going to use a Goldilocks and the three bears analogy but I think we have had enough sex for one day don’t you?

February 19, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Essential No 3

The Pause between each stroke must vary with the amount time it takes for the line to straighten.

 I am almost tempted not to write anything by way of explanation, I mean, come on, thats a pretty obvious statement. The more line you have out the longer it takes to straighten so the longer you have to wait before starting the next stroke. 

 So WTF do I see so many casters who have no concept of pausing?. Buggered if I know.

 I think it all ties in with cadence. Some casters only have one speed, tick tock ( that bloody clock again!). And like a stopped clock they are going to be right twice a day but the rest of the time they will be wrong. The same  also applies to the previous Essential, variable casting angle.

 How often do you see casters on a bank whipping the rod back and forward unable to increase the amount of line they are carrying, or if they do shoot some line while false casting they don’t wait for it to straighten so they are finally casting a huge horizontal S and the loops get bigger and bigger until the final mighty heave when the whole lot lands in a heap twenty feet in front of them.

 Come on guys. Casting works best when there is tension in the line and the line is tautest when it is straight so let the bloody thing straighten. There is so much less effort required to cast if you allow the proper pause between strokes.

 I’m basically lazy, I don’t want to thrash a rod back and forth and get nowhere I just want to flick a nice loop back, wait for it to straighten and flick it forward again. What could be simpler.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction | , | 2 Comments

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 | , | 2 Comments

The Five Essentials

Doubtless you have heard of the Five Essentials but have you actually thought about them. No?, well you should.

 Casting God Bill Gammel and his father Jay Gammel synthesised overhead flycasting down to these essential elements. These are the things that must occur to produce the perfect flycast. There is not one that is more important than the other, they all have to meld together. But we have to start somewhere so, not in any particular order and certainly not in order of importance, here is my take on The Five Essentials.

”The rod tip must travel in a straight line throughout the casting stroke”

 This means not only backwards and forwards (tracking) but also horizontally.

 Tracking the tip in a straight line is the most efficient way to transfer energy, you cast from directly behind to directly ahead (180 deg). Unfortunately out of line tracking is one of the most common faults and I often see tracking that is 10 to 20 deg out of line. It means that you are losing a significant percentage of efficiency. I have heard of several methods to straighten tracking; cast an old rod or cane along a wall, cast along a line  on a football pitch, drop the occasional back cast and see where it is lying. One friend casts on a grass verge that is only a few feet wide. One of the best methods is to pick a target in front as well as behind you, a tree or chimney or the corner of a building and aim your cast at it. Whichever method you decide to use the results will be well worth it in the end.

 That’s the back and forward sorted now to the horizontal.

 What we are looking for is ‘straight line path’, SLP. This is where the load on the rod corresponds to the weight of the line we have aerialised and the rod tip bends to produce SLP, this will give us our nice tight loops. I like to look at it as slicing the top off an orange.

 SLP is one of the things you can alter to suit a particular situation, if you are casting a team of three flies you do not want a tight loop or you risk getting the flies tangled, you want a more open loop, so you track the tip in a more convex path. If you are casting into a wind you want a tighter loop that presents less surface so a flatter SLP is required.

 What you do not want is a concave tip path where the tip drops below SLP so this will lead us nicely onto the next Essential.

February 14, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage | , , , | 2 Comments