Saturday, December 14, 2013
First let's understand the physics and nature of the hard stop made by the muscles in our upper arm. There is such a thing as the most effective and strongest position of each muscle in our body. For the upper arm it comes with a bend at the elbow and residing close in to our upper body. What does this tell us about the use of our upper grip and the stop? It tells us that if we extend our elbow far forward and open we are increasingly at a disadvantage in the strength required to make the abrupt stop.
In my teaching a constant fault I see is the extension of the upper grip arm too far forward. No matter abrupt or non stop methods will have the upper arm in a bent position. We blame this over extension on Singlehandcastitis and the muscle memory of many casting years. This is one way to make a cast but not the only way. Take Lefty Kreh for an example in relation to a single hand casting stroke. His forward stroke starts well back and then slightly rotates to a stop with the elbow very close to the body. He uses body rotation and forward movement as part of the driving power source. He likes to keep this tight to the core position as it will help the arm muscles to stay flexed and not extended. He also believes that this strong tight position will keep us casting longer and free of injury. We know that the extension of these muscles is the weakest position they can be placed.
You need only watch Goran Andersson cast to understand this high stop with flexed arm. The entire purpose of Scandinavian style casting is distance with the least amount of effort. Scandi casting has some of the principles of the non stop casting technique. I can well understand the thinking that extending the length of a stroke by the extension of our upper arm seems logical. But if the almost abrupt stop causing a tight efficient front shape of a loop is the goal then a stop that takes longer than an almost stop is not the answer.
The difference between the stop and forced over the tip style and the "pull rod straight" style is most manifested in the shape of the loop created. When we abruptly stop a fully loaded rod it will cause the line to move over the tip. The tip will move forward and then bend down toward the horizon. Depending on the flex and action of the rod it can bend quite a bit. This is called counter flex. Counter flex is necessary. When the rod is stopped in this way and counter flex happens it drives the rod leg of the loop down and causes a shock dimple shape to the loop. Not the worst thing to happen and is a natural effect of counter flex.
"Pull Rod Straight" is an Al Buhr creation that in my practice has been changing the shape of my loops. Al told me about this as a means to help reduce early and excessive rotation between top and bottom hands. This is the cause of bulbous or even tailing loops by causing the rod line leg to dip below a straight tip path.
Here are the steps for using the Pull Rod Straight technique. Imagine that you are in a perfect rounded up to key position with both hand about to make the forward stroke. Abrupt stop has us using some sort of ratio of power between top and bottom hands that is usually applied in the last part of the forward stroke. We have all seen this as a 50/50 or 40/60. Depends on style but the concept is the same. The factor in abrupt stop is that the top and bottom hands are making the transition from the rod facing backward and bent to facing forward and un bending making the transition at the same time. In "Pull Rod Straight", both top and bottom hands move forward together during the stroke. The rod is being heavily butt loaded as both the butt of the rod is pushed forward in unison with the top hand grip. When the forward movement is far enough to make that strong fulcrum position the top hand stops moving forward. A firm hold is not necessary on the rod. In fact, no grip is necessary but having the top grip laying in the heel of the hand is all that is needed. We have also seen this as making a circle with thumb and index finger. The circle keeps the rod in position but is is still the heel that receives the fulcrum pressure point. No forced push and squeezing. The top grip is rocking on the heel of the hand. The next movement is made without pause and the bottom hand, that can be as short as two inches is made pulling the rod toward the non dominant hip pocket. Core strength of abdominal, chest and arm muscles are in play and the top hand acts only as a fulcrum. A fulcrum that is firm but not pushed for power. A fulcrum that is now directed by the bottom hand pull and moves forward and down clearing the tip and allows the line to pass over during the "Pull Rod Straight". Tight and abrupt causes counter flex and rod vibration. "Pull Rod Straight" allows the tip of the rod to naturally bend downward without excessive counter flex.
I found the easiest way to feel the difference in these two casting styles was through pantomime. Slowing down the movements with full control and doing them over and over again. I offer the above as options of choice. There are no bad loops. Gordy Hill uses a tailing loop while Snook fishing to get his fly under the mangroves. My point is that our ability to choose is what counts.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Starting with the composition of lines to their final destination in casting can be a tricky part of fly fishing. Having the knowledge to know what style of line is going to offer the greatest control in a certain angling situation is paramount. It all starts with the understanding of how energy is transmitted from the tip of your rod to the last point of dissipation.
Bruce Richards offers you this knowledge in a well written and illustrated gem. A wonderful read for anglers of all abilities.
A must read if you want to understand how to crack that whip!