Originally Posted by wjc
I think there is considerable confusion over what exactly is "leading with the elbow". Most people think of it as the "woodchopping" motion shown on all the videos on learning to fly cast.
I am a little confused myself. I don't see how it is even possible to cast without leading with the elbow, at least in the initial stages of the cast.
The terminology may be confusing you.
Here is a description of the 3 major styes of fly casting by Al Kyte. He describes them according to the FFF casting terminology by noting the elbow position.
In the elbow forward stye, the elbow moves down and not forward during the cast, but this is what the FFF calls this style of casting because this is the starting position of the elbow relative to the "elbow up and to the side style" and the "low elbow style" of Lefty Kreh. I didn't name this style, the Federation of Fly Fishers did. If you read Al Kyte's article above, it is clear that he describes the stroke with the elbow going down and not forward.
Al Kyte writes, "I start a beginning class with what I call the “elbow-forward” style….. This upright forearm is also important to accuracy by leading and thus controlling the vertical forward movement of. your fly rod and unrolling fly line.
I believe this is why most tournament casters use an elbow-forward style….
The arm-lifting motion of this back cast is called “shoulder flexion.” Lowering the elbow on the forward cast is “shoulder extension.” This is the arm style of people who have most influenced casting in California, including Jimmy Green, Mel Krieger and Steve and Tim Rajeff. They personify a longstanding link between our interests in tournament fly casting and trout and steelhead fly fishing. The elbow-forward style also characterizes the casts of other notables, such as Joan Wulff, Jerry Siem, and Gary Borger."
All styes can produce good casts; but having said that, more elite fly casters and instructors use and teach the elbow forward style of fly casting than the other two styles combined.
These are illustrations from Jason Borger's Book on Fly Casting. The first illustration shows the arm position for the basic cast.
Here is a stop motion photo of a cast. Notice the curve of the of the rod stroke as the caster goes forward and down, rotating his arm at the shoulder and his forearm at the elbow, then the micro wrist flick to form the loop.
Slow motion elbow forward cast by Cris Korich. Cris Korich
is an ACA Hall of Fame member, 34 times on All American Team, co-holder of Men's Dry Fly Accuracy Record (score 100), co-holder of Men's Bass Bug Accuracy (score 100) and co-holder of Men's 1/4 oz Plug Accuracy Record (score 100).
American Casting Association
Watch the following basic cast video by Mel Krieger. Pay attention to the basic cast he teaches. It is identical to the motions I described above for the elbow forward cast.
The shoulder and not the elbow or wrist is the most power joint in your arm. Cast from the shoulder. The shoulder drives the cast by moving the elbow up and down while the elbow opens and closes.
The shoulder moves the elbow up and down like a pump handle. Simultaneously, the elbow opens and closes but never opens so much to widen the fly line loop.