I have always maintained that if you want to improve your fly fishing the place to focus your effort is on improving your fly casting and presentation skills.
These 5 fly casting essentials were developed by Bill Gammel and introduced in Texas in 1990. They apply to all good single handed casts and overhead casting with the two handed rod.
The “5 essentials of fly casting” have become a core tenant of the Fly Fishers International Casting education and instructors programs.
While the accompanying fly casting video clips are about 10 years old now, and many will have seen them already, they are a solid reference to help illustrate Bills 5 essentials. These fly casting videos have featured far and wide on many blogs and websites. They regularly appear on the Orvis blog and Midcurrent and have received millions of combined views. The entire collection can be viewed on our fly casting YouTube channel here
Our complete fly casting instructional video “Casts that Catch Fish” is available on our store here
If you can nail these 5, and really understand them and their implementation, your fly casting and hence fly fishing will improve out of sight. And if you ever consider becoming a qualified fly casting instructor with the FFI then knowing these essentials inside out is absolutely vital to your study and fly casting instruction.
Carl McNeil FFI Master Fly Casting Instructor
The 5 Essentials of Good Fly Casting
Eliminate Slack Line Ideally there must be no slack line. Or at the very least - Slack line should be kept to a minimum at all times. Start with the rod tip low and the line straight on the water, accelerate smoothly to a crisp stop.
Timing There is a pause at the end of each stroke which varies in duration with the amount of line beyond the rod tip. This simply means that at the end of each casting stroke you must pause long enough to allow the line to unroll & straighten completely (no slack) before starting the next stroke. The pause will vary with the length of line being cast, the longer the line the longer the pause. Long line - long pause. Short line - shorter pause.
Vary the Casting Arc Stroke and Arc may get confused and are often used interchangeably (Arc is the distance the rod tip moves) The stroke is the distance the rod hand moves from its starting position to its stopping position. Casting stroke is increased with the length of line being cast. Short line - short stoke. Long line - long stroke .
Power Application Power must be applied in the proper amount and in the proper place during the stroke. Power is applied smoothly and progressively. Power should be applied in an increasing amount with most power being applied towards the end of the stroke. This essential is really about making an acceleration.
Straight Line Path of the Rod Tip In order to form the most efficient, least air resistant loops the caster must move the rod tip in a theoretical straight line path (in both vertical and horizontal planes). The rod tip does move down out of the way and out of the straight line path (vertical plane) at the very end of the stroke during the stop.
Fly Casting Video Clips - the 5 Essentials Of Good Fly Casting
A great method to help get good drag free drifts is to introduce some slack during the cast. There are many slack line casts but the Reach Mend is the most simple, if you tend to present your fly side on and at an angle to your fish - (and I suggest you do) then you’ll want to use this cast pretty much every time you throw a fly