Bill Gammel’s five (plus two) fly casting essentials

Fly casting

Here’s some theory to help your practise next time you’re thrashing your line about in the park. Come and join in a Lakeside Fly Fishing Casting Practise session to perfect your casting arm.

Helpful fly fishing casting terminology

Loop – The fly line as it unrolls through the air. lt has a fly leg and a rod leg and a loop face. lt is our goal, to throw good loops, and to understand how they are made. They are the symbol of fly fishing. 

Rotation – the ARC through which the rod rotates during the stroke. \l/ 

Translation -the distance the hand travels during the stroke. llll 

Effective Casting Stroke – the combination of Rotation (arc) and Translation sufficient to create an effective loop. The casting stroke ends at loop formation and begins with the first of the acceleration. 

Total Stroke – The combination of the effective stroke plus, drift, drag, lift, sweep, or slide, which are all line and or rod re-positioning moves, made during the pause. 

Presentation cast – the cast that delivers the fly to the target. 

Tracking – the horizontal alignment of the back cast and the cast (especially if viewed from above) – see 180 degree rule. 

The five essentials of good fly casting

S.L.P. To create an effective loop the tip of the rod must have some element of a straight line path during the casting stroke. A fully convex rod tip path leads to tip doming = wide ineffective loop. Straight line path of the rod tip = effective loop. A con-cave path of the rod tip – tailing loop. 

The path of the tip of the rod during the casting stroke determines the shape of the fly leg of the loop, and that is the important one. 

Stroke short cast short stroke (narrow ARC), long cast, Iong stroke (wide ARC)- the total distance the rod travels through (in a combination of rotation and translation) is determined by the distance you need to cast, the conditions you are casting in, AND by how much the rod bends. This is to maintain the SLP of the rod tip. 

Slack in the line means we have no tension to load the rod to make it bend. Slack comes from wobbling the tip of the rod, and from poor timing – ie going forward or coming back while the line is still travelling in the opposite direction in the air. Doming with wide open loops is another form of slack, beginning a cast with the rod tip high above the water begins a cast with slack…” Slack can form between the line hand and the stripping guide……. Slack is the enemy of effective, efficient fly casting. Tension is your friend. 

Acceleration that creates rod tip speed must be constant and smooth, not jerky and uneven. The correct amount of power needs to be applied for the dis-tance that needs to be cast and for the conditions you are casting under. 

Pause Fly casting is about timing, a short cast requires a very short pause on the back cast and the forward cast, the more line in the air the longer the pause has to be as we wait for the line to straighten. Pause too long and gravity takes over, don’t pause long enough and there’s no line tension to load the rod. 

Plus two bonus essentials

Stop Its the stop that makes the line go. Where we stop the rod in relation to our tip path determines the loop size. How we stop the rod (abruptly, smoothly, softly) has a considerable impact upon loop formation and size. A sharp stop just below the SLP maximises the transfer of energy from the rod to the fly line. Where we stop the rod tip determines loop size. 

180 degree rule For the cleanest loops the back-cast and the forward cast should be 180 degrees to each other in all planes. ln the horizontal plane we call it tracking. lt is a fundamental, although not entirely true, rule that the line will travel in the direction the rod tip stops in. The position of the line at the commencement of the acceleration has a lot of bearing on what the line will do regardless of where and how the rod tip stops.