UNDERSTANDING THE

FIVE ESSENTIALS

OF FLY CASTING

The requirements established by the FFF Casting Board of Governors for the Certification Exam require a fluent and complete understanding of all basic casting mechanics. It is the examiners job to insure that the candidate can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examiner, their ability as potential instructors, to perform all the required casts and teaching requirements of the exam, in a clear and concise manner in accordance with basic fly casting principals.

One of the very best ways to prepare for the Basic certification exam is to get a copy of the "Essentials of Fly Casting" written by Bill and Jay Gammel which is available through the FFF office in Bozeman.

What follows will be a brief examination of those 5 essentials and how to incorporate
them into your thought process as you prepare for the Certification exam. It is important to understand that these 5 elements are present in all casting strokes, and as such, define the "general rules" that govern the casting a fly line.


Click each link to get a graphical view


1. The elimination of SLACK LINE is the most efficient manner in which to cast a fly line.

Begin each cast with the fly line in a straight line from the rod tip to the fly. A fly line
with SLACK in it will not LOAD the rod properly. Some portion of the CASTING
STROKE will be wasted by having to remove the slack before the rod can begin to
load properly.

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2. Proper ACCELERATION of the fly rod.

In fly casting the function of the rod hand is to accelerate the rod so that it may
load or bend against the resistance of the fly line. The hand accelerates the rod
slowly at first and continues to increase in speed until the rod reaches a position
perpendicular to the target at which point the rod hand accelerates even faster, and
concludes, with a short, ultra fast stop of the hand. The majority of acceleration
takes place near the end of the stroke.

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3. Efficient loop formation requires the caster to move the rod
in a STRAIGHT LINE PATH to the target.

Loop shapes are a result of 4 different paths that the rod tip may take when casting.

The first is the nearly STRAIGHT LINE PATH of the rod tip. This path generates a
narrow LOOP and accurate placement of the fly. A narrow loop will show a top and
bottom leg separation of approximately 20 inches. The top and bottom leg of the loop
will also be in the same plane, that is to say that the top leg should always be directly
above the bottom leg for maximum efficiency. Another advantage of the narrow loop
is its ability to penetrate a wind. The smaller and tighter loop has less surface area and
increases resistance to the wind

The second path the rod tip can travel is in a CONVEX PATH. The path of the rod tip
in this instance travels in a large upward arc as opposed to a near straight line path. A
convex path of the rod tip opens up, or widens the loop, decreases wind resistance and
compromises accuracy.

The third path the rod tip can travel in is a CONCAVE PATH. The path of the rod tip
in this instance travels in a downward arc. This path will form a closed or TAILING
LOOP and commonly leads to the dreaded wind knot. The tailing loop will severely
compromise full TURNOVER of the loop and accurate placement of the fly.

Last but not least is the LATERAL PATH of the rod tip. In this instance the path of the
rod tip no longer moves in a single plane but instead swings out to the left or right
from the straight line path to the target plane. Know as the "Swinging Loop," the top
leg "swings out" to the left or right of the bottom leg of the loop. The swinging loop is
a casting fault.

*It is imperative to remember that the path that the rod tip takes is the path that the
fly line will follow.*

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4. The size of the CASTING STROKE is generally determined by the length
of the line to be cast.

A short cast of 15 feet is made with a short stroke, while a longer cast of 45 feet is
made with a longer stroke. Short line short stroke, long line long stroke. The
weight of a fly line is distributed over its length. A shorter length of line will weigh
less and bend the rod less. A longer length of line will weigh more and bend
the rod more. The key to good loop formation is to match the size of the casting
stroke to the amount of bend in the rod in order to maintain a near straight line path of
the rod tip throughout the entire casting stroke. This is known as a Variable Casting
Stroke. Generally speaking our longest casting stroke will be the entire length of our
casting arm including rearward and forward wrist rotation. Our longest casting stroke
would be used to cast t a whole fly line and maybe some backing too!


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5. There must be a PAUSE that may vary in duration at the end
of each back cast and forward cast stop.



Also referred to as Timing, the pause allows the loop to straighten before beginning the
next stroke. If the line is not straight the rod will not load properly as SLACK LINE
will be introduced into the fly line by starting the cast before the loop has completely
unrolled or by starting the cast to late, allowing the line to fall to the ground. Sort line
short pause, long line long pause. Equal line length equal pause.


Please note. A competent instructor must properly demonstrate casting faults such as
tailing loops, open loops, swinging loops, and bad timing. This allows the student to
better understand what he or she is not doing correctly. Once the fault in demonstrated
the correction should then be immediately given.