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Casting Essentials: Straight Line Path

Producer: Carl McNeil  |  On the Fly Productions

Casting expert Carl McNeil explains why moving the rod tip in a straight line is essential to loop formation and effective cast control.  This three minute lesson covers the three main loop shapes and the actions that create them.

Excerpt: “In order to form the most efficient, least air resistant loops, you must move the rod tip in a straight line path—in both vertical and horizontal planes…..The line always follows the path of the rod tip. Therefore, if you can get that rod tip pointed in a really straight line, and employ crisp, absolute stops, you’re going to get some really nice loops.”

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Watch more:

The Five Essentials
Casting Essentials: Eliminate Slack
Casting Essentials: Timing
Casting Essentials: Variable Casting Arc
Casting Essentials: Power Application
Casting Essentials: Straight Line Path

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  • Anonymous

    Well . . . nice video (putting to one side for a moment the fact that in the demo the last portion of his cast clearly shows the rod tip NOT remaining in a straight line, but instead dipping down, a fact the narrator fails to mention or address) but let’s think about it for a second:

    Even if one assumes that the straight line rod tip path is vital, the video fails to explain how to achieve that in real life, since the caster cannot see his cast from a convenient position 50 feet to the side, and has no idea if the tip is following a straight line or not.  

    The 3:01 minute clip would have been more useful if 30 seconds had been devoted to that crucial issue: “OK, so how do I know if my rod tip is following a straight line or not?”.

    • “OK, so how do I know if my rod tip is following a straight line or not?”
      Ok then – you can tell exactly what your tip path is doing by looking at the loop as explained and shown in the clip.

      Here it is again:
      A large wide open loop results from a large open convex tip path
      A tailing loop (or closed loop) is the result of a tip path that has traveled a slightly convex path.
      A tight loop is a consequence of the rod tip traveling in a relatively straight path with a crisp efficient stop with the rod tip maintained high after that stop. i.e don’t drop the rod tip and tear open the loop after you send it on it’s way.

      WIth regard to loop shapes:
       The top leg (the fly leg) of the loop is determined by the path of the rod tip prior to the stop.
      The shape of the bottom leg (the rod leg) is determined by the tip path after the stop.
      The shape of the loop face and the distance between these two legs is primarily dictated by what the rod tip does during the stopping sequence. The process that usually takes milliseconds.

      Hope that helps.

  • Excellent brief on casting essentials. Thanks, Carl and Marshall.

  • The Raven

    I recall taking command of a far north USAF Munitions Maintenance Squadron, it was winter, below zero, and I wanted to meet all the assigned personnel at once.  Several hundred members.  Cleared-out a large hangar, heated, bought with my own funds, snacks and soft drinks.  Went well.  Then came the IG complaint; I had not provided some specific ‘diet cola.’  Sometimes it is disheartening to learn, you just cannot satisfy everyone, no matter what.  Thanks for the good work. 

  • Which Way Out

    Smooth thats the way to do it.

  • Anggayoga_prabawa

    sir,what is the name of striped orange and black fly line did you use on your video,, i want them so much,,thx

  • Jimwwoods

    Best description I’ve seen,  makes it very simple.  Now I need to practice.

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  • RE

    Correction:- a tailing loop is the result of a concave RTP. Whoops.
    I know you know what you meant. Cheers

  • RE

    A famous man in the fly casting fraternity said, to analise a cast you can use the method of
    L line
    R rod
    B body
    See what the line is doing, which is what the rod is doing, which is what the body is doing.
    Refer back to the five essentials and then correct accordingly.
    KISS……keep it simple stupid.

  • RE

    RTP…..rod tip path, rod tip path, rod tip path. Paul Arden.

  • RE

    Try casting side on with a horizontal plain to the ground and follow a straight line on the ground or maybe even a fence rail to help you cement the SLP ( straight line path). Then you can experiment with varying RTP ( rod tip paths) to see what Carl is refering too .

    With due respect RE

  • RE

    I am enjoying my casting practice on the lead up to taking my casting instructor test in two weeks time, i have been fishing all my life since a small boy in one form another but i have only been fly fishing for two years. I am absolutely posessed with casting a fly line and get great satisfaction from pumping that line to 90/100 feet, the harder i try the more power i put in the less distance i acheive!!!!! Stick to the five essetials keep it smooth like pouring cream into a jugg not to much power a crisp stop a late haul and piont the rod tip in the direction you want the line to go and man i have been amazed at the results. Point the rod but forward and try to imagine bending the rod that much that you can push that 9 foot lever through a 7 foot hoop then point the rod at a target. This is difficult to explain but easier to demonstrate. Think about it but do it at shoter distances around 60 feet then work up to increasing your distance. Roll the energy through the lever like silk through to the fly line to deliver the fly to the target. I have just been working on this wanted put this out there , thoughts please.