Fly – Saratoga Fly


Hook:  #4 or #2 Gamakatsu B10S or Mustad Stinger
Thread:  black flat waxed
Tail – black rabbit fur
Bodywrap – min peacock coloured estaz chenille
Head/Wing  – black deer body hair

Tying Steps:
1. Lay down a base of thread from the hook eye to the bend and finish with the thread over the hook point.

2. Select a piece of tail material equal to the length of the hook.  Tie in over the hook point and over-wrap back to the hook- bend.

3. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to hook eye.

4. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to 5mm behind the eye, tie off and trim excess.

5. Select a small clump of deer hair, use a hair stacker to even the tips and trim the butts even.

6. With the tips facing forward, attach the butts about 5mm behind the hook eye and over wrap up to the hook eye. Move the thread back to about at least 5mm behind the hook eye.

7. To form the bullet head and the wing, fold the hair back over the tied in butts and secure with six wraps of thread. whip finish and apply a small amount of head cement.


Making a One Cast Presentation

 by Nial Logan

Many of the species in the saltwater are not static in their habits and move constantly in their environment to seek food or to avoid predators. Consequently, having the ability to make quick long presentations is a must learn skill to take maximum advantage of the sometimes fleeting opportunities.

One of the most crucial parts of this ability to make a one cast presentation, or any cast for that matter, is the pickup action

The first consideration is understanding what happens at the tip of the rod during the casting stroke. After the stop is executed with the rod butt, the inertia of the rod tip causes it to go past the rod straight position, further flexing the rod tip briefly in the direction it was moving before the stop. After this counterflex, it rebounds to the rod straighten position again.  All this happens in a fraction of a second. (See Figure 2)


Studies have shown that the rod tip is actually moving fastest after the rod straight position for a split second during the start of counterflex.

This is one of the reasons why many find that it’s harder to form a tight loop with a soft rod where there is a greater amount of counterflex. On the other hand, stiffer rods have less counterflex and are not as prone to this effect.

 How does this effect the casting stroke?
At some stage during the initial pickup, many casters tend to rotate the hand and forearm from the elbow. This action causes a slight semi-circular motion that might not seem so great at the hand level however, at the rod tip nine feet away, the effect is magnified. The result is usually a large loop because the fly line will follow the path traced by the rod tip.

onecast_3This larger loop generated by the semi-circular hand action is then exaggerated by the counterflex that projects the flyline downward rather than back. The typical indication is the flyline dipping down immediately after the rod tip (Figure 3). The effect of this is to cause an even larger loop that lacks power to penetrate wind and the end of the flyline will, on many occasions, hit the water or be caught on the vegetation.



In this situation, apart from the loop lacking power to act against wind and in some cases even to straighten out completely, it also causes problems with the forward cast.
To maximize the rod loading (bending), the fly line must be straight behind the rod tip. When there is slack caused by virtue of the large loop, a portion of the forward casting stroke movement is wasted taking up the slack before
the rod tip will load. (Figure 4)

The shortened casting stroke means that not as much effective power is applied therefore the cast distance will not be optimized. The application of power over a shortened casting stroke may also lead to tailing loops

 How can the pickup be improved?
The trick to improving this aspect is to learn how to use the counterflex to your advantage.


Move your hand in a straight line from the pickup position to the stop position. This means that rod movement tends to be upward so that after the stop, the counterflex throws the line upwards rather than down (Figure 6). Combining a short haul just before the stop with the action as described will result in a small loop that will easily punch into the wind and unroll in the air to fully extend with little or no slack to cause wasted movement during the forward cast motion.

Learning the Sequence

The main prerequisite for making a one cast presentation is having the ability to shoot line on the backcast. This ability does a couple of things.

Firstly – Combined with perfect timing at the start of the forward stroke, it yields an additional early load on the rod.  This is sometimes referred to as “pre-load”. Put simply, the weight of the fly line pulls the rod tip slightly to the rear as the loop straightens and this provides extra resistance as the forward cast begins and this contributes to more effective loading of the rod.

Secondly – It delays the turnover of the head. This combined with line/loop speed allows more line to be carried behind the caster which in turn facilitates the previous.

To effectively shoot line on the backcast, you must first establish:-

  •  that the casting loop on the initial backcast has the power to shoot line.
  •  what length of line can be comfortably picked up off the water; and
  •  how much line to shoot. This will vary depending on a number of factors:

               1. The distance sought,
               2. The casting conditions. (wind, etc.)
               3. Type of line (long head floating line, shooting head etc.)
               4. Type of fly (large or small has an effect on wind resistance) and
               5. The ability of the caster.

 Easy Steps to Learning the Skill

  •  Develop smaller more powerful loops. Firstly, before you can progress any further, you must be able to produce a tight loop on the pickup back cast that is capable of allowing you to shoot line (about 10 to 15 feet) easily. 
  • Establish the amount of line that can be comfortably picked up off the water. Mark the line at the optimum length with a waterproof marker. The longer length you can pickup off the water means less you have to shoot on the backcast. If you can pick up 20 feet, then you will need to shoot a minimum of about 10 to 15 feet of line to get the head of the line clear of the tip
  • Determine the length of line that you can shoot. Hold the line at the pick-up mark point, make the backcast (at this stage don’t shoot any line), make the forward cast and present the fly. Take note of the distance achieved.
  • Now repeat the process and this time shoot a few feet on the backcast to see if that helps increase the cast distance.  If it does, next time shoot a few more feet.  So long as the addition of more shot line helps, continue. 
  • Once you get to the point of diminishing returns, back off a little at a time until the your performance and sense of “feel right” is reached.  So that you can easily recognize this point while casting, nail knot a piece of 4-6lb test monofilament onto the fly line.
  • Once you have mastered the basics, introduce a haul. You can either perform a single haul just before the stop on the forward cast or use a haul on both the back cast and the forward cast.

From this point on it is just a matter of practice. If you have difficulties, it has been found that it is best to break up the sequence and practice each increment individually rather than the whole action. With experience, further refinements to make adjustments for wind conditions and other variables such as fly size, type of line, etc. will become automatic.

The development of this skill, apart from allowing you to make quicker casts, will also help you to make more effective casts off your backhand. An essential for saltwater applications when casting from boats and overcoming the problems caused by wind on the casting arm side.

 During your practice sessions, momentarily turn your head to watch the backcast. This allows you to quickly identify if there is a problem. An added benefit is that it will also help you to develop a sense of timing to judge the length of pause to avoid the ‘whip crack’ as well as the slack caused by not pausing long enough to allow the line to straighten.

Over 90% of the people who have attended coaching to correct the problem of a poor backcast, do not watch their backcast. In many instances, they easily identify and correct this type of casting problem when they turn their head to watch what is happening on the backcast.

Fly – Polarfibre Minnow

 Original pattern by Paul van Reenan

polafibre3  polafibre2

Hook: Any short shank hook from #10 to 3/0
Thread:  Monofilament
Body – white Polafibre
Gill – Fluorofire in pink or orange
Lateral Line – Comes Alive in silver or pearl
Wing – Polafibre (green and grey are popular colours)
Eyes – 3D silver/black, red/black or gold/black
Head – Softex or Epoxy

Tying Steps:
 1   Polafibre consists of a number of different length fibres. After the required size bunch is cut from the backing (cut it as close as possible) you can adjust the length by the drawing the longer fibres out. You can also vary the fullness of the body by removing the short butt fibres with a comb.

2   Once the material is adjusted to the desired size, trim the butt square and tie in above hook barb. Make sure that the material is directly on top of the hook shank and don’t overdo the tying – just catch the end so that it is secure.

3   Add a small amount of Fluorofibre – optional but recommended. polafibre5

4   Add lateral line of Comes Alive, silver or pearl flash in front of Flourofibre towards hook eye.

5   The color toppings are tied progressively towards hook eye. Do not over wrap with thread. Make sure of the symmetry and that the material is barely caught on the final tie. This leaves a sloping head ALL the way to the hook eye.

6   Place 3D eyes above hook point or where they look best.

7   A head finish of epoxy or Softex will make it bullet proof. Apply to the entire head in a crescent shape back to where the gills would be.

8   Add highlights with marker pen if you like. To add bars – Cut the nib off a waterproof marker with a sharp blade. You want a chisel point i.e. not a round point. Now with the fly in the vice, hold the materials close to the head & start dabbing on the marks with a ZIGZAG motion. As you go slide your hand back to the tail of the fly. This keeps the fibres taught for you to mark. .


Fly – Estaz Crab


Hook:  #2 to 6 Gamakatsu SL45 or #2 – 1/0 SL12s
Thread:  salmon flat waxed
Tail – tan marabou
Bodywrap – rootbeer estaz chenille
Legs – tan spinnerbait shirt
Head – Built up thread
Eyes – gold barbell

Tying Steps
 1. Lay down a base of thread from the hook eye to the bend and finish with the thread behind the eye.

2. Attach the barbell eyes behind hook eye and wrap thread back to the hook bend.

3. Tie in the marabou over the hook point and bind slightly around the hook bend. (When sitting on the bottom, the marabou needs to be pointing upwards. This not only ensures that the fly turns over so that it is hook point up but also it allows the marabou to wave around enticingly in the water movement.)

4. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to half way along the hook shank.

5. Attach three rubber legs using figure of eight wraps and move thread to behind the hook eye.

6. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to barbell eyes, tie off and trim excess chenille. Whip finish thread in front of barbell eyes.

7. Remove from vice, hold the legs out of the way and trim the sides of the body to a “crab shape”.

8. Trim the bottom of the crab flat. Spread the legs and apply a small dollop of silicone and work it into the materials on the bottom of the fly.

Roll Casting

by Nial Logan

Mastering the roll cast is a skill that many fly fishermen ignore.  Executed correctly it is an invaluable addition to your arsenal of casting techniques to put the fly in front of your quarry.
These are a few applications – there are probably many more:

  • Remove slack prior to the pickup.
  • Use it as a presentation cast when a strong wind from behind collapses any back cast  made. Roll the loop high and let the wind carry the line to the target.
  • The roll cast is useful when obstacles behind the angler prevent the normal back cast.
  • When there is limited room, use it to roll a fly under a snag.
  • Allows a length line to be kept at the ready when changing positions eg when sight casting.
  • It is also used to lift sinking lines to the surface allowing the angler to make a normal cast.
  • Reposition the line on the surface to enable a change of direction for an overhead cast.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind before making a roll cast.

  • Firstly – If you want to make long casts, it is preferable to use a fly line with a longer belly – in the order of 40-50 feet.
  • Secondly – Forget all other actions you use or were taught and use the same action as you do for a normal forward overhead cast.

Basic Roll Cast Action
Begin with the rod tip low to the water with no slack in the line.
Angle the rod to the side and move the rod arm slowly rearward so that the line slides across the water surface. Stop the motion when your arm is fully extended to the rear with the rod parallel to the ground at about shoulder height with the line hanging in a loop by your side. You will need a least 6 to 10ft of line in the water to provide sufficient resistance to make the cast.

Once the line has stopped sliding towards you, with your hand at the start point reaching back as far as you can, bring your hand forward leading with the heel of your hand while still maintaining the rod pointing to the rear (this starts the line moving). Hold this position until you reach a point where it starts to become uncomfortable, then rotate your wrist forward and fully extend your arm in one movement. This has the effect of loading the rod tip because the movement of the wrist and the movement of the rod must conclude at the same time. The wrist only moves a short distance however the rod tip which is 9 feet away has to accelerate to complete moving  at the same time. This translates to the additional power required to overcome the hold on the line by the surface tension on the water.

Remember, that on your casting arm side, the roll can only be made to the left (right for left handers) of the line in the water otherwise the line will catch on itself. To make a cast to the right of the line in the water, it is necessary to tilt your rod tip over the opposite shoulder and perform the action on the backhand side of your body.

If the rod tip is stopped high, the line will unroll in the air. Stop the tip lower and the majority of the line will unroll on the water. Shooting line is similar to a normal cast where line is shot immediately after the rod has stopped. It will be easier to shoot line if the rod tip is stopped high at the completion of the cast. A haul can also be employed to greatly improve distance. As with the normal cast, the haul is done during the power part of the stroke and completed at the same time as the stop.

Long Roll Casts
Tom White, one time noted Florida guide and FFF Master Casting Instructor (now deceased) was a great exponent of the full line roll cast. His method consists of three essentials for making the longer roll cast or for that matter, any cast.

Rule 1– The tip must travel in a straight line from the starting point at the rear to the stop point at the front. Imagine a  line between these two points and follow that line with your hand. Straying from this line will result in a semi-circular tip path which translates to a large loop .

Rule 2 –  To make a longer cast, make a longer stroke. Put simply, the longer stroke allows the application of more power.

Rule 3 – It is of little use to make a longer stroke if you don’t have an adequate amount of line beyond the rod tip. The more line there is beyond the tip, the more “weight” there is to load the rod tip.

To perform the cast you will need about 20-30 feet of clear area behind you. Lay the about 50’ of line out straight on the water. Start with the rod tip at water level. This will give you maximum water load for the next part of the stroke. If the tip isn’t in the water from the start, you will have a problem lifting the line.

Lift the fly line off the water, similar to picking up for a normal overhead cast. Use only  enough speed to throw the belly of the line behind you and to bring the end to within 6 to 10 feet in front of you (this is the anchor). If you lift too hard, you will shoot the end of the line behind you, not hard enough, and the end of the line will be too far from you and you won’t be able to make the cast.

After the stop on your back cast, allow the loop of line to fall on the ground behind you. At the same time, allow your casting hand to lower down to shoulder height at the same speed as the line falls to the ground. This is the position to start the forward cast.

In summary the position is:

  • The end of the fly line is now about 6 to 10 feet in the water in front you – or the bank (anchor).
  • There is a loop lying on the ground behind you. (D-Loop)
  • Your rod tip is almost horizontal with the ground (2 o’clock) with your arm extended straight back. You will have to open your stance to allow your shoulders to turn to accomplish this.

Now, simply make a stroke as described for the basic roll cast and always remember to maintain a straight tip path. The other ingredient you can use to cast further is to add a haul at the end of the cast just before the stop. You will notice that the rolled loop now has the power to pick the line off the water and shoot it.

 Troubleshooting the Roll Cast
Generally, there are four common problems that cause difficulties:-
Problem 1 – Lack of power
Cause and Solution – Failing to  take the rod far enough behind the caster before making the forward stroke.  The solution is obvious – reach back as far as you can.

Problem 2 – Making a big high loop that doesn’t travel very far and is hard to aim.
Cause and Solution – This is caused by doming of the rod tip path on the forward stroke.  The solution is to make a standard overhead forward cast ensuring a straight line path of the rod tip. The stroke length should also be proportionate for the amount of line being thrown.  If done correctly, this should yield a much smaller egg-shaped loop that is relatively flat on the top.

Problem 3 – Not being able to get increased distance.
Cause and Solution – This can be a combination of the preceding two problems.  It can also be due to failure to get enough line behind the caster before making the forward stroke.

Problem 4 – The line lands in a pile well short of the target.
Cause and Solution – This is usually caused by sweeping the rod tip out and down at the end of the forward stroke.  The solution is to have the rod tip traveling straight toward the target at the conclusion of the stroke.

If you don’t live close to water, practicing the roll cast can be near impossible if you don’t have a few tricks you can fall back on.
One method is to have about a 5 inch piece of tube or dowel about ½” to ¾” in diameter, fixed to a 8 inch square base plate. Tie a 2 inch loop in the end of the leader and that loop is placed over the tube.  This acts like the surface tension of the water and when you make the roll cast, the loop slips off the tube. The problem is that the caster or someone else has to take the time to replace the loop over the tube for each practice cast.
Al Buhr’s ‘Grass Leader” is another way to do it.  This consists of some stiff leader material with multiple blood knots tied every 4 to 6 inches with the tag ends left protruding about a ¼ inch long.  These catch on the grass and simulate the effect of the water surface tension.
The best way to simply practice various size loops as well as high and low placement of tight loops on the roll cast is to catch the end of the leader on a clip board so it won’t pull loose and place a rolled up bath towel on the leader next to the clip. The towel prevents the tippet breaking on the edge of the clip after casting for a while. Step back varying distances, and practice loop after loop.  This allows you to get lots of practice in a short time interval with instant feedback. 

Of course, nothing is the same as using water however practicing loop control using on these methods will go a long way to enable you to effortlessly employ both long and short applications  of the roll cast to broaden your fishing opportunities.


by Nial Logan

Many believe that sight casting or polaroiding as it is more commonly called, is the ultimate in fly fishing. The sheer excitement of spotting fish before casting to them is hard to equal. Once experienced, blind casting into a body of water and hoping that some fish will commit suicide will have little attraction for most anglers.

Maybe it’s a resurgence of our primeval hunting instincts or the anticipation of the coming event that gets the adrenalin running. Seeing the fish tends to make the mouth dry and the palms of the casting hand sweaty. At this point, the novice anglers tend to find that this temporary state causes them to forget all those casting and fishing techniques they have tried so hard to master. Disturbing as this may seem, it doesn’t matter what level of experience, everybody can affected. This state is why we all enjoy sight casting.

Irrelevant of whether you are stalking a wily trout in a small mountain stream, a spooky giant herring in a foot of water off some remote Cape York beach or a nearly invisible bonefish in some tropical paradise, the same techniques will apply. The first thing to be aware of is that fish in shallow water are very wary of predators and will spook at the slightest opportunity. It is a matter of spotting the fish before they see you.

Due to design of its eyes and their positioning on the head, a fish’s ability to see objects with both eyes is limited to a narrow field in front of it. The refraction of light at the water surface has two effects on the fish’s ability to see out of the water. Objects above the water appear to be higher up than they really are. Secondly, they are seen in an inverted cone shaped field with the apex at the fish and at an angle of approximately 97 degrees. Outside this angle, the fish simply gets a blurred and distorted image and reflections of the underwater world. This explains the belief that there is a “dead angle” near the surface preventing the fish seeing a fisherman who is low on the shore or water.

A thorough understanding of where the fish are likely to be and of their feeding behaviour is a basic essential that allows the identification of likely places where fish are to be found. This is particularly applicable in saltwater where their location is directly related to the stage of the tide. Good water clarity obviously helps in this sort of fishing. However with practice you should be able to spot fish in most situations.

Polaroid lenses are used because of their effectiveness in reducing reflected surface glare and this enables you to see beneath the water surface. There are many different manufacturers offering a huge variety of styles and lens colours. This is definitely an area where the little extra you pay for quality is well worth it. Many believe that, from an optical point of view, glass lenses are best however the newer polycarbonate lenses now available have nearly the same properties. Colour seems to be a matter of personal choice. As a rough guideline, in low light situations the lighter “amber” type colours seem to be best while “smoke” or “reflective” colours are best for bright middle of the day use. Glasses that fit close to your face and wraparound the sides prevent light entering and reducing their effectiveness.

Spotting with the sun behind or directly above you is usually preferable to give the best spotting conditions. With the sun shining directly into your eyes or if you are facing the water at an unusual angle (sideways out of a boat for example) you may discover that it is very difficult to observe below the water surface. To overcome this, change your location so that the sun angle is more favourable. Another piece of equipment that is necessary is a cap or hat to assist to reduce light entering from above the glasses.

For those who have had some military service the words shape, shine, shadow, silhouette, spacing and movement will rekindle the content of those long forgotten camouflage lessons. Basically these words reflect the situations that indicate or betray the presence of our quarry. Probably the most important “pointers” we utilise when spotting fish are shape, shine, shadow and movement.

When searching for fish, the important thing to remember is not to actually look for the fish themselves. Most fish are first spotted because of shadow as it is usually much easier to see than the fish itself. This is particularly applicable with some of the saltwater fish that are so well adapted to their environment that the shadow is the only thing you will see until they are at very close range. Fins are also a give-away, especially the pectorals or tail fin that often contrast to the bottom background and they are the portions of the fish’s anatomy that are moving. Every once in a while a feeding fish will flash its flank, revealing itself. Surface, or near-surface feeding fish are often obvious by the water they displace with their feeding movements. In saltwater, this may or may not include baitfish breaking the surface in order to escape.

When polaroiding, concentrate on looking through the water as opposed to at it. Focus on looking at the bottom itself and scan from side to side working in bands starting at a close range and gradually moving out. Many find it difficult to spot if there are waves. In this case, the trick is to change your search pattern and use the waves as a type of magnifying glass and look through the face of the wave as it moves toward you. There are two other techniques that are useful in certain circumstances. Try moving your head up and down or side to side or glasses about your face to change your viewing perspective slightly.

Take your time and give the fish a chance to move and reveal itself. Remember shape, shadow, shine and movement are the best indicators. Once you have spotted the fish, remember that it may be able to see you, so take yourself out of its sight angle. Be careful not to spook the fish with sudden movement, your shadow or that of your flyline when you make the cast.

With practice you will quickly go from making a cast to that rock or shadow you think maybe a fish to “knowing it is a fish”.

Troubleshooting the Cast

by Nial Logan


In the beginning, many would be fly fisherman struggle with casting because they fail to understand a few basic principles that are the foundations of good casting. This failure often results in complete frustration as the newcomer endeavours to come to grips with the art of fly casting.  Often, an enthusiastic beginning rapidly diminishes to a point where the fly rod is relegated to a secluded garage corner where it gathers dust.
Another aspect is that once “bad casting habits” become ingrained they are harder to correct.
A sound understanding of these fundamentals will make it much easier to identify problems, what causes them and what to do to correct any faults.
Before discussing the fundamentals, the first thing a beginner needs to understand is that it is approximately the first 30 feet of the fly line (called the “head”) that provides the weight to load the rod (that is, it causes the rod to bend during the casting process). This can be equated to a sinker in normal bait fishing or a lure in spin casting. 
 Look on the fly line as a long thin sinker. Having a short amount of fly line out of the rod tip is like using a light sinker. This will not load the rod as much so only a short distance will be achieved. When the optimum length of fly line (about 30 feet) is out of the rod tip, there is a greater weight, consequently the rod is loaded more and this translates to greater distances. 

The ultimate aim of a good cast is to have the fly line form a narrow “U” or “V” shaped loop as it unrolls and straightens towards the intended target. The upper and lower portions of the loop, “the legs”, should be parallel and opposite each other. This shape is desirable for accuracy and a smaller and tighter loop has less surface area and decreases wind resistance therefore travels further.

To achieve an this “efficient cast” the following conditions are necessary:

1.    Eliminate Slack Line

 Before the rod will load all the slack line must be removed. The rod tip will only start to bend (load) when you are able to move the end of the fly line.

Begin each cast with the fly line in a straight line from the rod tip to the fly. If there is slack, some portion of the casting stroke is wasted before the slack is taken up and the rod begins to load.

Slack can also be present during the cast. For example, the fly line needs to be straight behind the rod tip as the forward cast starts. The weight to be cast, that is the fly line, provides resistance against the forward movement of the rod only when it has fully straightened behind the tip. A “loose or large loop” caused by an incorrect stroke and a short pause provides little or no resistance. The line with just some slack causes wasted movement of the fly rod taking up the slack before the rod starts to load. In effect, the casting stroke is shortened and therefore less power is applied to the cast.

2.    Straight Rod Tip/Line Path

 Because the fly line is pulled behind the rod tip, it follows the path “traced” by the rod tip. Therefore the fly line will only follow a straight line to the target if the path traced by the rod tip is the same straight line.

The rod is only an extension of your hand/arm to provide a mechanical advantage. To take a simplistic look at the casting stroke – if you move your hand in a straight line then the rod tip will move in a straight line.

If the rod tip pulls the line forward in a curving path (caused by moving the hand in a wind screen wiper motion) the line will follow that same wide curving or convex path. This wide type of loop has little power and is very wind resistant consequently it will not travel very far.

If path of the rod tip traces an upward curve (concave path), a closed or tailing loop (line crosses and fly catches on line or tangles) will result. The tailing loop in many instances will prevent a full turnover and layout of the fly. This also frequently leads to the dreaded “wind knot” in the leader.

The rod tip not only needs to move in a straight path in the horizontal plane but also in the vertical plane. If the path of the rod tip swings out to the left or right, the top leg “swings out” to the left or right of the bottom leg of the loop. In some instances this casting fault can be deliberately utilised to swing the fly around behind obstacles.

Here is a way to help visualise a straight line path, its relationship to hand movement and how it is achieved. Take the top half of a rod and stand near the end wall of a room and hold the tip of the rod at the point where the ceiling joins the wall. Stand close enough so that your elbow is slightly bent. Move your hand backwards and forwards with the rod tip maintaining constant contact with the point where wall and ceiling join. You will note that irrelevant of how long you make the stroke, your hand will follow a relatively straight path (half a rod distance from the ceiling) and the elbow and arm move up and down to accommodate for the changes in distance.

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

3.    Applying acceleration to the fly rod.

Casting is not a matter of strength but rather an application of power through the technique used. The aim of casting to move the fly line from stationery and then propel it in such a way that it travels to the intended target. This is achieved by moving the rod so that it loads or bends against the resistance of the weight of the fly line.

An efficient cast accelerates the rod slowly at first and continues to smoothly increase in speed until the rod reaches the end of the casting stroke where an abrupt stop is performed. The majority of acceleration takes place near the end of the stroke. A jerky acceleration action will cause shock waves in the fly line and in the worst case, tangles.

The rod tip pulls the fly line along behind it throughout this acceleration.  A flyline itself has no tendency to move in a straight line but will follow the path traced by the rod tip as long as it continues to accelerate.

4.   The Stop

The rod will continue to bend (load) only as long as the hand is moving with increasing speed. Stopping the rod at the end of the casting stroke causes the rod to straighten (unload). This propels the fly line forward and forms the casting loop. The more abrupt the hand stops, the faster the rod will unload resulting in the transfer of more energy to the flyline and hence a longer cast.

The rod tip also needs to be stopped as close as possible to the straight path being followed. A controlled abrupt stop of the rod tip as close as possible to this path sets up an anchor point for the fly line that then accelerates close over the top of the rod. This translates into a narrow loop. Stopping the tip further below the straight line path translates to a wider loop.

5.   The Length of Casting Stroke

As a general rule, small casting strokes are for short casts and wide casting strokes are for long casts.  The wide casting stroke could be as far as the casting arm can reach while the shortest cast could only involve a slight wrist movement.

It is important to match the size of the casting stroke to the length of line being cast. For example, if a lot of power is applied over a short casting stroke in an endeavour to throw a long length of line, the effect is to cause the rod tip to dip causing a concave tip path. This leads to a tangled line or tailing loop.

6.    Pausing and Timing

The pause between the forward and backcast allows the loop to straighten before beginning the next stroke.

Remember, the line has to be straight in the air for it to load the rod. If the loop has not completely unrolled and line is not straight, the rod will not load until the slack is taken up. Consequently the effective length of the casting stroke is shortened taking up this slack.

On the other hand, as soon as the line straightens, gravity takes effect and the line begins to fall towards the ground. Pausing too long means that the fly will snag on undergrowth or “stick” on the water.

The shorter the line, the shorter the pause, longer the line, the longer the pause. Getting the right timing for the length of pause is a crucial for good fly casting. The best way to develop this sense of timing is to turn your head and watch the loop unroll.

Thoughts on Making a Cast

  • Remember that you can’t start the cast until you can move the end of the fly line so it is important that fly line is straight with no “slack”.
  • Start with the rod tip low and with your casting hand in front of your body, elbow slightly forward of the body and the forearm parallel to the ground.
  • To perform the back cast, keeping a firm wrist, draw the hand back in a straight line and stop with the rod pointed up at about slightly less than a 90 degree angle to the ground behind you. This will have the effect of throwing the line up and back so that it unrolls in the air.
  • As you perform this action the rod is loaded (bent or flexed) by the weight of the fly line trailing behind the tip. When the rearward movement of the rod is stopped the rod unflexes and propels the following fly line and the casting loop is formed.
  • If the rod movement is stopped with the rod lower to the ground at the rear, this will have the effect of throwing the line into the ground as the rod unflexes.
  • It is important that stop be performed as quickly as possible. The more abrupt the stop, the more power is transferred to the casting loop.
  • If the hand movement is executed by more of a rotation rather than a draw back in straight line, this has the effect of moving the rod tip in a semicircular path that results is the formation of a open or wide loop that has little power.
  • Before the forward cast can be commenced, the casting action has to pause momentarily to allow the loop to completely unroll and the line to straighten. The hand should remain stationary during the pause. The more line that is in the air the longer the pause has to be. 
  • The forward cast should be commenced at the instant that the line straightens. This is performed by moving the hand forward smoothly in a punching or throwing motion and stopping the rod sharply with the rod at about 60 degrees to the ground.
  • To form a desirable small loop, the rod tip needs to travel in a straight line which means that the hand must move in a straight line. If the hand is moved in a semicircular action, a wide or open loop will result causing a lack of power.
  • As well as the tip traveling in a straight line, the rod must also travel in the same plane throughout the casting stroke. This means that if the rod is angled at say 45 degrees to the body, that angle should be maintained on the back cast and the forward cast. If the angle is changed, it will cause the end of the fly line to swing around.
  • For short casts that only require a small casting arc keep your hand about as high as your ear. Longer casts with a larger casting arc require an extension of your hand and arm both up and out from your shoulder.
  • The line hand should always follow the movement of the casting hand at a consistent distance.


Problem 1 –  Large open loop on the backcast

An open loop leaves you without enough leverage on the rod to make a decent forward cast. This is caused by the rod tip moving downward when the rod straightens. (Most often this is due to the caster bending the wrist or moving the rod in a windscreen wiper action thus giving a curved rod tip path.
Remember that the rod is really only an extension of the hand. Concentrate on moving your hand in a straight line and performing a quick stop with the rod tip pointed upwards (at about 45 degrees to the ground). The quickest way to remedy this fault is to watch your backcast.

Problem 2 –  Line collapses on backcast

This happens when there is a fault with the stopping of your backcast. The common cause is the lack of a quick stop to throw the loop back or letting the rod tip drop too far after the stop.
The remedy is finish the backcast with an abrupt stop (imagine your hand hits a brick wall). Perform the stop with a slightly rising hand so that the rod tip will also rise and cause the line to travel back rather than down

Problem 3 –  Line hits water on backcast

This is really a combination of problems 1 and 2. The reason the line hits the water is because you are throwing it that way. If the rod tip is moving down when it is stopped at the completion of the backcast then the line will go down and hit the water.
Concentrate on moving the rod tip backwards in a straight line. Perform the stop with the rod tip pointed upwards so that the line is thrown back rather than down.

Problem 4 –  Shock waves in back and forward cast

The cause is  having slack line before the acceleration phase of the cast. Vibrations are sent down the line when the moving rod tip is suddenly put under pressure by coming up tight against the weight of the line once the slack is taken up. This causes the tip to bend and recoil sending waving effect down the fly line. It may also be caused by gripping the rod too tightly.
The cure is to start the cast with the rod tip on the water and making sure there is no slack between the fly and the tip. Loosen your grip on the rod so that it is just sufficient to stop it  rotating in your hand. Squeeze when you perform the stop and them relax the grip again.

Problem 5 –  Line lands in a pile and doesn’t lay out on completion of the forward cast.

The most probable cause is that the rod didn’t have enough load or bend to throw the amount of line trying to be cast. The line simply runs out of energy to straighten out completely and falls in a heap. Large flies and poppers can also add to the problem because of the greater resistance in the air.
The problem can be solved by increasing the hand speed during the acceleration phase of the casting stroke and ensuring that the stop at the end is abrupt so that all the energy stored in the loaded rod is transferred to the moving fly line.

Problem 6 –  Tailing loops where the leader or fly crosses and catches on the flyline

There is one common casting error that leads to tailing loops and it is called “creep”. At the end of each movement of the cast particularly the backcast it is important that the rod remains where it is stopped and not moved forward during the pause. It is preferable to allow the rod to drift back.
If the caster “creeps” the rod forward in preparation for the forward cast while waiting for the line to straighten, the stroke for the next cast is shortened. When the same amount of power is applied with a shortened stroke it causes the rod tip to dip giving a concave rod tip path. The line will follow the path traced by the rod tip and consequently the line will cross itself hence a tailing loop results.
Concentrate on keeping the rod stationary (imagine it hits a wall with super glue on it) during the pause while waiting for the line to straighten. After the stop and the definite pause while the line straightens, commence the forward stroke with a smooth application of power, gradually accelerating until the stop on the forward cast.

Problem 7 –  Knots in the line when casting in windy conditions — Wind Knots

Wind knots are a common problem for many casters. They probably got the name because someone noticed that they occurred more often on windy days. The wind or absence of it has little or nothing to do with the problem.
To make a good loop it is necessary for the rod tip to travel in a straight line. To enable this, the size of the casting arc must be matched to the amount of power applied. If too little power is applied in relation to the arc, the tip will travel in a convex path and large loops will result. If too much power is applied over a small arc then the concave path that results causes tailing loops.
So where does wind come into the picture? Most casters realize that they have to throw harder to overcome the effect of the wind. However, if more power is applied to the same casting arc that is used to cast in calm conditions then the result is usually an over loaded rod. This causes the rod tip to dip causing the tailing loops and knots.
The wind itself does not make the knots but it does cause the caster to change the cast in a way that results in the tails and knots
Increase the length of the stroke to accommodate the additional power applied. It is very important to keep the tip traveling in a straight line so a long stroke is required to allow a smooth and gradual application of the power required to overcome the wind.

Big Game Leader

game ldr_1

Index to the Numbers
1.   Loop knot to fly
2.   Shock tippet
3.   Huffnagle knot, Slim Beauty or Albright Knot
4.   Bimini Twist
5.   Class leader/tippett (18inches to 2 feet long)
6.   Bimini Twist
7.  Two strands of class leader twisted (two feet long)
8.   Double surgeons knot
9.   Four strands of class leader twisted (four feet long)

Making the Twisted Section
It is made out of a single piece of monofilament and has the advantages that it has excellent knot strength, a good taper to turn over big flies and the twisted construction provides some stretch that acts as a shock absorber. Also, there is no bulky knot at the top end so the join to the fly line is relatively ‘snagless’ when passing through the tip runner.

Instructions for a 7 to 8 foot leader:

1. Measure and cut about 24 feet of the selected breaking strain mono.

2. Loop the mono around a chair and tie a bimini twist about 3 or 4 feet from the end of the mono.

3. Cut the loop that has been made at the mid point.

4. Hold the bimini twist in your right hand and the two tag ends between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand close to the bottom of the bimini twist. Best results are achieved if the tag ends are held slightly apart, say with about a 30 degree angle between them.

5. With your right hand, twist the bimini away from you and at the same time slowly drawing the tag ends through the fingers of your left hand. This will twist the tag end strands around each other. Because the tag ends will spin, they tend to tangle. To overcome this, hang each strand on either side of a stair rail.

6. Once you have twisted the full length of the double, tie an overhand knot to stop the strands unraveling (the double section should be about 10 foot long).

7. Double the twisted section at about 4 feet from the end.

8. Form a small loop and then twist the two pieces together using the same method as before (twist away from you). The two sections should interlock together. Don’t hold with too much pressure otherwise the twist in the strands will become uneven.

9. When the end is reached, tie a double surgeon’s knot to prevent the strands unraveling. Trim the tag end.

10. The resulting completed leader will be between between 7 and 8 feet long and will have a loop at one end to connect to the fly line,  a thick butt of four strands of mono about four feet long,  a thinner section consisting of two strands of mono two feet long and a 100% strength bimini twist at the transition to the single strand of mono for the tippett.

Attaching the Shock Tippett
 1.  Double the single strand of mono and tie a bimini twist so that the class tippett will be about about 18inches to two feet long.

2. Attach the shock tippet using a knot suitable for connecting thin material to thick material. Either a Huffnagle, Slim Beauty or Albright knot would be suitable for connecting mono. Use an Albright knot for attaching wire.

Attaching Fly

To allow the fly to swim a loop knot is preferable. Either Lefty’s Loop or Homer Rhode Loop would suffice on tippets less than 100pound. On tippett material over 100 pound, an aluminium crimp will give a neater connection.

If using knotable wire such as Tiger Wire, the same knots can be used. Other wires such as nylon coated and stainless will usually be attached using a Haywire Twist.

Note – If you have a break off when the leader is under extreme pressure, particularly just prior to landing the fish, you may find that the leader will ‘concertina’. Don’t try to straighten it, it’s quicker to replace it with a new one.

Understanding Hauling

 by Nial Logan

Next to mastering the proper casting stroke, the double haul is viewed as the most important tool a fly caster, particularly in saltwater, can learn. 

Many fly fishers still think of the haul as solely a method for increasing distance and may not realise that it also produces additional and equally important advantages. The technique of hauling also assists in line control, overcoming the effects of wind, presenting bigger flies and generally allows you to cast with less effort.  Another major benefit is the control of slack between the line-hand and the first guide of the fly rod to maintain the taut line required for good fly casting.

This hauling movement has been comprehensively dissected and analyzed and there are numerous opinions as to the correct method for the execution of the movement.  Like other aspects of fly casting, there are many varying styles, which in the hands of experienced casters, work efficiently.

In this article, the some of the different aspects of hauling will be covered to enable you to learn, improve and employ the haul more effectively.

What is a Haul?

There are many different opinions of what constitutes a single and a double haul.

Ed Jaworski, in the glossary of his publication “The Cast” defines the double haul as “A technique to increase line speed and rod load involving pulling the line sharply with the line hand during both the back and forward casts.”

Other authors of fly casting literature describe hauling in several ways :-

  • A single haul is the pull with the line hand during either back cast or forward cast, but not both.
  • A double haul is the pull with the line hand during both the back cast and the forward cast.
  • Others refer to the action of pulling and giving line back as constituting a double haul.
  • Joan Wulff on the other hand has described in her writing and teaches that “a single haul is performed by pulling with the line hand and not giving back line back during either the forward or the back cast, or both”.

 Throughout this article, for simplicity and to avoid confusion, references to hauling will mean:

  • A haul is made up of a pull with the line hand and give back of line during the pause.
  • A pull done on either the back cast or forward cast but not both constitutes a single haul.
  • When the haul is performed on both the backcast and the forward cast it is referred to as a double haul.

How does hauling effect the cast?

The haul has 2 effects:

 ➡ It increases the load of the rod by increasing its bend.
The rod tip is moving fastest between the stop of the rod butt section, and the RSP (rod straight position).  The faster it moves, the more energy is transferred to the line and this translates to faster line speed. The faster the line speed, the further the loop will travel.
In making the haul, the caster pulls with the line hand as the rod is accelerating forward.  This pull is against the “dead weight” of the line which is moving more slowly than the accelerating rod tip. This results in further bending the already bent rod.  The increased bend in the rod stores more energy which is later released at the stop, thus translating to more line speed.

 ➡ Apart from the bending effect on the rod, a haul also directly increases line (loop) speed.
In demonstrating this effect, you could make a rod out of a broom stick, to eliminate the bending/loading aspect, and note marked increase in line speed with a haul.
Gordon Hill, a FFF Master Casting Instructor uses an easy to understand explanation this way:
“Think of the guides and the tip top as a pulley.  If you pull on a rope which goes through a pulley, you can move the rope on the other side of that pulley.  The faster you pull on your end, the faster the rope moves on the other end. Now, when you make a haul, you pull the fly line through this “pulley” (the rod tip)………..and the faster you pull it, the faster the speed of the line on the other side of this “pulley”. The faster the line is moving toward the rod tip at the RSP, the faster it moves as it overtakes the rod tip and forms the loop…..and, consequently, the faster that loop will be propelled in the direction the rod tip was moving when it came to a stop.”

Length and Speed of Haul

How aggressively (length and speed) you haul depends mainly on the stiffness or action of the rod and how much load it being applied to make the cast in a particular situation. 

A haul using a 9 foot stiff rod throwing 60 feet of line will differ significantly from one you’d use with slow action 9 foot rod, casting the same distance. The same haul on both would probably result in a very modest load on the fast action, whereas it would result in a much deeper load on the slow action rod.

The key to remember is it to use a haul that not only increases line speed to the desired level, but also does not compromise the straight line path of the tip.

Is it possible to haul the line faster than the rod’s movement? Look on the rod as a long lever which greatly magnifies the speed of the tip and consequently, it is likely that the rod tip is moving a lot faster than any speed achieved with the line hand.

A simplistic way of looking at this aspect of length/speed is, “short cast….short haul and long cast….long haul.” and match the speed of haul that is appropriate to the stiffness of the rod.

When is the start and finish in stroke sequence?

When considering when to start and finish there are a couple of important points to bear in mind.  The rod tip is moving fastest between the stop of the rod butt section and the RSP and the loop begins to form at the rod straight position. This is the moment when the line starts to overtake the movement of the rod tip. It then follows that the peak “pull” of the haul should be at the point of maximum pressure on the rod from the rod hand, prior to the stop. 

That’s when it’s best to haul if you are going to use a very short, crisp haul.  Most distance casters however haul throughout the entire stroke….. the pull with the line hand is a mirror image of the application of force with the rod hand, with the peaks of pressure of both at the same instant.

Having looked at the optimum time to start and finish, it is also important to consider the negative effects of incorrect timing.  For example, a haul done suddenly in the middle of a casting stroke or completed too early, can yield a spike of rod load that will cause the rod tip to dip and then return to the original path in the stroke.  That’s a concave rod tip path which can yield a tailing loop. 

If the haul is continued after the RSP you are, in essence, pulling on the bottom leg. This effect will speed up the top leg forcing an earlier turnover and shorten the cast. In situations such as when using large flies or long leaders, this technique to cause early turn over can be used to assist in presentation.

 To be able to haul correctly or at least efficiently, the fundamentals of the basic casting stroke must be sound to produce a tight loop shape with legs of the loop parallel (that is the upper and lower portions of the fly line that forms the loop). The importance of this is noted by Lefty Kreh who once quoted that the basic casting stroke of many casters is so flawed that “….most fishermen use the double haul to throw their mistakes faster and over a greater distance.”


Learning to haul could be likened to those PT classes at school where learning to star jump while rubbing your stomach with one hand and patting your head with the other was the ultimate test of co-ordination. When hauling, it is the independent hand actions between the line and rod hands that many have trouble with.

The hauling action is made up of a pull on the line and a “give back of line’. The pull is performed during the last part of the casting stroke when the majority of power or speed is applied and is completed not later than the rod straight position. The “give back” action is done during the pause after the loop has formed and is trying to pull the line out of the rod tip.

One of the most difficult aspects to learn is not so much the timing of the pull but rather the ‘give back’. If the give back part with the line hand is not completed correctly slack is often introduced. Slack between the line hand and the stripping guide can be as equally detrimental to the cast as slack outside the rod tip.

Endeavouring to learn to haul as a whole is a recipe for frustration. By far the best way to develop the co-ordination and “muscle memory” is to separate and practice the actions individually and, once mastered, then progress to the whole action.


If you have never tried to learn to haul previously, you may find it beneficial to overline the rod by one or two weights to achieve more feel for the rod loading and the loop pulling the line.

Use  a slightly open stance so that the rod can be moved at about a 45 degree angle to the ground. Lay out 25 to 30 feet of line in front of you. Make sure the rod tip is close to the ground and there is no slack in the line.

 Back Cast
• Step 1 –   Start with line hand within about 18 inches (40 – 50cm) of the reel.
• Step 2 –   Lift the rod to make the backcast with both hands moving together maintaining a constant separation.
• Step 3 –   As the rod is accelerated for the power application make a short pull (about a foot) with the line hand so that it is completed at the same time as the stop with the rod hand.
• Step 4 –   Immediately move the line hand back close to the reel. If you have thrown a good loop the “pulled line” will be drawn up through the rod guides eliminating any slack between the hand and the stripping guide.
• Step 5 –   Let the line fall to the ground behind you. This allows you to collect your thoughts ready for the next cast.
• Step 6 –   Turn around and repeat the process.

Some find the use of the word pictures such as, “Pull it down, follow it up” or “Haul and return”, help with coordinating the sequence. To assist in synchronising the completion of the haul with the stop and the giving back of line, try watching your casting hand as opposed to the rod or line.  This makes it easier to observe the actions and make any corrections as necessary.

 Forward Cast
• Step 7 –   Start with the rod and hand in the position applicable for the completion of the backcast with the line hanging straight behind you with no slack. The line hand should be positioned as close as possible to the rod hand.
• Step 8  –   Move the rod to make the forward cast with both hands moving together maintaining the same distance apart.
• Step 9  –   As the rod is accelerated for the power application make a short pull (about a foot) with the line hand so that it is completed at the same time as the stop with the rod hand.
• Step 10 –   Immediately move the line hand back close to the reel. Again, the “pulled line” will be drawn up through the rod guides.
• Step 11 –   Let the line fall to the ground in front of you.
• Step 12 –   Turn around and repeat the process.

After some repetitions to cement the sequence into muscle memory, combine both sequences by deleting the steps where the line is allowed to fall to the ground. Once you can false cast with continuous hauling then move on to shooting the line. On the presentation cast, there is no requirement to complete the “return”, just release the line at the same time as the stop of the rod hand.

Common Problems and Fixes

Problem          If you haul too soon with too much travel of the line hand, you have restricted movement late in the stroke when the haul is most effective. Additionally, an early slow haul will commonly result in slack being introduced below the rod.

Fix                   Ensure that the majority of the haul is done during the final portion of the casting stroke during the application of power.

Problem          A common problem, particularly on the backcast, is moving the rod away from the line hand as opposed to the line hand away from the rod. 

Fix                   Move both hands together for the initial part of the cast and pull with the line hand as the final power is applied with the rod hand.

Problem          Slack most commonly occurs because the “up action” attempts to push the line back up rather than the line taking itself back and the hand following.

Fix                 Let the inertia of the traveling loop pull the line back rather than just moving the hand back.

Problem          Line around the rod butt is the often the result of having slack between the line hand and the stripping guide.  Another cause is using an overly long haul across the body for the amount of line being cast that results in the line being pulled across the base of the reel.

Fix                   To overcome both problems, try making a shorter haul later in the stroke. This will make “return” easier to avoid the slack that wraps around the rod.

Problem          If the haul is completed prior to the RSP, acceleration is lost.  The deceleration of the line and partial recovery of the rod tip leads to a concave path often   resulting in a tailing loop. Starting the haul with too much speed that can not be maintained or slowing the haul will let the rod unload with the same result.

 Fix                When the haul is started at the same time rod rotation starts for the power application portion of the stroke, it is easy to match accelerations to maintain SLP and gain tip speed. There is no disruption of the bend caused by a tug on the line in the middle of the stroke.

Problem          Releasing the line too early or too late after the haul. If the line is released before RSP, it is obvious that this would reduce the effectiveness of the cast.  On the other hand, if the line is released after RSP, the bottom leg of the loop is being pulled which will speed the top leg forcing an earlier turnover. This will shorten the cast and sometimes cause the line to land in a pile at the end and not lay out straight.

Fix                Coordinate the line release with the RSP. The time difference between the stop and the RSP is relatively small, so, for practical purposes, release the line at the stop.

Problem          A sharp haul away from the line of the axis of the rod will cause the rod tip to recoil in the opposite direction. That makes the tip throw the line out in that direction.

Fix                    Preferably the haul should be performed along the direction of the axis of the rod.  Pulling down the axis reduces the effect of drag on the rod guides, gives the hand a free travel path and facilitates the natural flow of the line down and back up through the guides.

One last word on practice – start with short lengths of line to develop a sound technique.  As you become more proficient, the extra line speed hauling generates will gradually allow you to carry more line while false casting and consequently gain more distance. 

Fly – Weedless Gurgler

Hook:  #2 -1/0 Gamakatsu B10S
Thread:  black flat waxed
Tail – black marabou
Body – estaz chenille in black or peacock
Head and Wings – black closed cell foam 3-4mm thick in colour of choice – cut to about the width of a ice cream stick and 1.5 inches (5cms) long
Legs – black and gold spinner bait skirt rubbers
 Eyes – gold 3D
Tying Steps:

1.   Lay a base of thread along the hook shank and finish with thread behind hook eye.

2.   Measure a bunch of marabou so it extends by one hook shank length past the bend, bind down back to the hook bend.

3.   Attach the end of the chenille at the hook bend and move thread to about 1cm behind the hook eye.

4.   Lay the 3 legs across the hook shank  and attach using three figure eight wraps.

5.   With the main length of the foam facing forward, attach the end 1cm behind the hook eye and bind up the the hook eye.

6.   Finish with the thread hanging one eye width behind the hook eye.
7.   Apply a little head cement to the bindings and along the length of the shank. While the cement is still wet, wrap the chenille forward to just behind the hook eye, tie off and trim excess chenille.

8.   Double the excess foam backwards and secure with thread. Whip finish and apply some head cement to secure. Increase or decrease the floatation by making the doubled section larger or smaller.

9.   Trim the foam level with hook point and cut the foam down the centre.

10.  If desired, attach the eyes and cover with a small amount of Softex or Softdip to secure.
Notes:- Vary the colour of the legs and body to suit local conditions.