The world's best flyfishing site.

Lefty Kreh's 5 Principles of Flycasting

I've changed this page since I wasn't too happy with the last version. I originally postes this page because I was fed up with people quoting Lefty's Principles on the board as if they were irrefutable laws, which they're not. Hopefully we'll work this out eventually.

Here goes:

There are many different flycasting styles and what a dull world it would be if there were only one. Lefty has a style of flycasting and a very interesting one. It undoubtedly works for many people, not everyone of course, but what does? The important thing to understand here is that Lefty's 5 principles work very well for trying to get your head around how Lefty casts. They probably won't help you if you use another style, although they may help you find your own style.

From a pure mechanical perspective I believe some of them to be erroneous. I don't actually have a problem with that. Everyone makes mistakes in trying to discover flycasting, just look at the double haul for example; there isn't a book written on flycasting that has got this right.

Here's something else: I don't fully understand flycasting; I'm always learning. I'm continually revising this site as I learn. In some way I hope never to fully understand it, life, women or myself. It's the discovery that matters, right?

These Principles are taken from Longer Flycasting Handbook. I believe that they've been improved upon in a more recent publication, which is of course as it should be. I'll revise this page when I get hold of them.

Principle number 1: The longer you move a rod through an arc, the more it helps you make the cast.

“…I urge casters to move the rod well behind the body on the backcast… on a very long cast your rod and arm should be straight behind you.”

Or in other words, a longer stroke length is more effective than a short one. I disagree. None of the distance casters we've studied here on Sexyloops extend their arms behind them. Some distance casters do extend their arm rearward, but this appears to enable slack line removal. One thing that is certain is that the longer the stroke length the more difficult it is to maintain straight tracking.

Principle number 2: You must get the line end moving before you can make a back or forward cast. And on the backcast, the end of the line must be lifted from the water before making the cast.

Except when Roll Casting. Or indeed when using a "Water Haul".

I've thought about this a few times and it's so obviously wrong that Lefty must be using the word "cast" to define something else, possibly "powersnap".

Principle number 3: The fly is going to go in the direction that you accelerate, then stop, the rod tip at the end of the cast.

Not necessarily. The fly is going to go in the direction that the end of the line takes it. This is not necessarily the same as the direction of the speed-up-and-stop. A snap cast is an extremely good example of this principle being broken. As indeed is a tailing loop and an open loop. I think that's quite an important one to understand.

Principle number 4: The size of the line loop during the cast is determined by how fast and how far the rod tip is moved (combined with a quick stop) at the end of the cast.

If you sweep the rod forward and accelerate quickly at the end of your cast, so that the tip moves in a four foot arc, you will throw a four-foot-high loop

I don't think this is complete: the size of the loop is determined the path of the rod tip travels during the entire stroke. This relates back to 3, but I do understand Lefty's thinking here and you can control a loop in this manner.

Principle number 5: You cannot move your rod hand well behind the body if you begin the cast with the thumb positioned on the top of the rod. You must grip the rod in the normal manner and then rotate your thumb about forty-five degrees away from the body.

I didn't understand this when I first read it, but I think Lefty is advocating casting with a palm-forward grip. I agree that this is the best grip for light tackle since it utilises the natural flex of the wrist.

That's my understanding. Some of it may be flawed of course and I know that there are many instructors who'd argue with me. Good. I think Lefty uses a lot of slip, powerless drifting and short sharp snaps at the end of the stroke. And I assume from number 5 that he curves the snap, but that's a guess. To really understand Lefty's perspective I'm going to have to watch him cast and probably buy him a beer.

I only hope I don't have to buy a TFO rod as well :-)


Don't forget to visit the board