Casting Drill – 1st Gear

This is a very useful flycasting exercise that I’ve been using in lessons for over 25 years. Normally it’s an exercise I use for teaching fly fishermen who have never had a lesson. They’ve been fly fishing for 10, 15 and sometimes 20 years and have never learned to cast controlled loops. It ties in nicely with Lee Cummings’ “Triangle Method” and Bill Gammel’s “One foot at a time drill.” I think this one lays somewhere between the two.

It’s really about being able to cast the rod with the leader only, or just a few feet of fly line, and expanding the Casting Stroke for there. I almost always introduce it by starting with Mel Krieger’s “Bouncing the rod” exercise. Bouncing the rod, casting with a short line, minimal force, and then up/down with the rod hand to allow the line to clear the rod tip is a wonderful exercise and can transform a flycaster.

I think that the rest is pretty much self-explanatory. However if I can add a few thoughts on fly lines being heavier than AFFTA and casters up-lining because they are not getting the feel they expect, which they often think of as “rod loading”. Basically what is happening is that the caster is using a “third gear” Casting Stroke, 10-2 or something similar, and because the rod is stiffer than his third gear stroke, when coupled with the amount of line he is carrying, the tip path is domed and the loops are wide, what he/she should be doing of course is using a “2nd Gear” Stroke for the length of line he is carrying.

But how to find 2nd Gear when the caster has only one gear? Ie third? So that’s really what this exercise is about. Finding the “first gear” Casting Stroke, which will then follow into second gear and so on. Ie it’s an introduction to the Variable Casting Arc. But instead of theory, we are being practical here – and the results are often immediate.

It’s an exploration. Bring a fly rod. Designed for you by Paul Arden.
The rod in this video is the HT7

Incidentally if this is new to you, I would recommend to make this drill part of your regular casting practise. Also when “testing” rods, to see if you like them, you need to drive them in “first gear” first. First gear allows you to find second gear and so on. Trying to discover how a rod will perform at all distances by simply trying to drive it in third is not how we cast effectively!

It is sometimes possible to book me for a Zoom Casting lessons. Email me on for more info.

Got a question? Try asking on The Board. We have an entire section devoted to this manual and there are many very knowledgeable contributors who often explain things in different ways.

Cheers, Paul