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Old 07-23-2012, 08:02 AM
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Default Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Hello,

I'm new to fly fishing and have learned some of the basics from *some instruction and by reading stuff written by Lefty Kreh (great material). He recommends that a fly caster learn the side arm cast well, because it facilitates a better distance cast later due to a greater ability to extend the rod on the back cast.

Anyway, I do a regular overhead cast decently, with *some success in hauling, though my forward haul sucks.

For the side-arm cast, I'm terrible! On the backcast I concentrate on keeping my elbow "on the shelf" but the fly always sags too low and I get terrible tailing loops that want to catch the rod on the forward cast. Any tips on what to check for to correct the problem?

Oh, and by "side-arm" I'm referring to a cast with the rod tip just a little above the elbow (in other words, quite side-arm). I do the 45 degree cast decently.

More data: My overhead cast is more of a "tower" cast, where I go completely vertical and upward, then back "downward" on the forward cast. So it's more of a diagonal cast then parallel to the water/ground. I get the tightest loops with this cast for some reason. I don't know why this seems easier to me than the other casts.

Thanks,
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:21 AM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

I have done some very short casts that low, but trying to get distance i dont see how yoll ever get the line high enough to not drag on longer trys.. all of my casting is usually side 75 degree on back stroke to more vertical on the forward, used with a double haul its very affective. I cant stand 90 degree vertical overhead casting..
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:35 AM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbineblade View Post
Hello,

I'm new to fly fishing and have learned some of the basics from *some instruction and by reading stuff written by Lefty Kreh (great material). He recommends that a fly caster learn the side arm cast well, because it facilitates a better distance cast later due to a greater ability to extend the rod on the back cast.

Anyway, I do a regular overhead cast decently, with *some success in hauling, though my forward haul sucks.

For the side-arm cast, I'm terrible! On the backcast I concentrate on keeping my elbow "on the shelf" but the fly always sags too low and I get terrible tailing loops that want to catch the rod on the forward cast. Any tips on what to check for to correct the problem?

Oh, and by "side-arm" I'm referring to a cast with the rod tip just a little above the elbow (in other words, quite side-arm). I do the 45 degree cast decently.

More data: My overhead cast is more of a "tower" cast, where I go completely vertical and upward, then back "downward" on the forward cast. So it's more of a diagonal cast then parallel to the water/ground. I get the tightest loops with this cast for some reason. I don't know why this seems easier to me than the other casts.

Thanks,

Okay I have a drill for you to try that I teach some of my students that will drastically help you with all forms of casting.........

The rod tips needs to travel in straight line with abrupt stops at 10:00 and 2:00, that much we know. It is exact same range of motion you use with a Hammer.

The drill is to grab a hammer and pretend to hammer a nail into a imaginary wall right in front of you a little closer then arms length. The heavier the hammer the better but practice hitting that imaginary nail and feel how the hammer accelerates and then stops abruptly on the head of the nail, you will also notice that you accelerate back almost the same and at the same 10:00 and 2:00 o clock positions. Once you have done this with the hammer put the fly rod in your hand and repeat the exact same motion pretending that the head of the hammer is the top of your cork grip. If you want to practice side-arm then try hammering the nail from the side with the exact same range of motions.


I did this drill to teach myself to cast left handed. I used to work construction and it suddenly hit me that using a hammer is the exact same motion as casting and after 2 weeks of this drill a couple hours a week I can cast just as good with my left hand as I do with my right.
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:04 AM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Another good mental drill is to imagine you're holding a paintbrush with paint on it and trying to fling paint at a target in front of you, as well as one in the exact opposite direction. The motion involved with flinging paint off of a brush is exactly the same as fly casting, because you need to accelerate and then stop hard to send the paint flying.

(I like that example better than the hammering version because the nail/etc generally takes care of the stop for you)

To the OP, I'd recommend gradually transitioning your overhead cast to a sidearm cast, and analyze what changes as you shift it over. Tailing loops are caused by applying power too hard/early in the casting stroke. Going back to the paint brush example, you don't want to start swinging it too hard, in order to make sure you've got maximum paint on the brush when you complete your "fling" at the end of the stroke.

To keep the fly up better, try rolling your thumb upwards as you complete your casting stroke. This should cause the fly to lift slightly upward relative to the water's surface, helping it make it all the way to your target.
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:21 AM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Thank you all! I'm thinking that I started messing around with hauling too much in my last session instead of keeping a good back and forward stroke (like flicking paint) and working on my timing. I started hauling and only thought about that instead of good mechanics. I'm going to scrap hauling until my basic casting without hauling is better. I might also lay out those 2 parallel lines to get better and putting the line between it.

My roll cast sucks too, because I do it too far downward instead of out in front like a regular front cast. I know in my head that I'm doing the roll cast differently than my forward cast, but I still do it! Dumb! I wish I could figure this out sooner and just be good already.

Thanks a lot folks!

Last edited by turbineblade; 07-23-2012 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:17 PM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

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Originally Posted by BigCliff View Post
Another good mental drill is to imagine you're holding a paintbrush with paint on it and trying to fling paint at a target in front of you, as well as one in the exact opposite direction. The motion involved with flinging paint off of a brush is exactly the same as fly casting, because you need to accelerate and then stop hard to send the paint flying.

(I like that example better than the hammering version because the nail/etc generally takes care of the stop for you)

To the OP, I'd recommend gradually transitioning your overhead cast to a sidearm cast, and analyze what changes as you shift it over. Tailing loops are caused by applying power too hard/early in the casting stroke. Going back to the paint brush example, you don't want to start swinging it too hard, in order to make sure you've got maximum paint on the brush when you complete your "fling" at the end of the stroke.

To keep the fly up better, try rolling your thumb upwards as you complete your casting stroke. This should cause the fly to lift slightly upward relative to the water's surface, helping it make it all the way to your target.

I have heard the paint brush analogy before and it works for a mental drill but doesn't build good muscle memory and isn't feasible to practice. There are hundreds of mental drills ( Brick Wall, Cell Phone,etc.) but not really many physical drills that help you feel the motion instead of having to visualize it. Plus the wrist break down with a hammer is exactly how you should break your wrist when cast which is tough to visualize and better to feel.
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Old 07-23-2012, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Gotcha -- I actually have quite a few bicycle tools, and also some "non-bicycle" tools including a nice rubber mallet and claw hammer. I think I may practice with the rubber mallet because it seems weighted about like a regular hammer, and I may have less chance of hurting myself when I practice in the living room
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:25 PM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Using the face of a clock is a common way to illustrate casting but it is also very misleading.

The two major ways the angler moves the rod is by rotation of the rod butt and by the stroke path. Lets define what those are. Rod butt rotation is what the clock face is. If we say 10 to 2, that is 4 hours or 1/3 of the 12 hour 360 degrees of the clock face or 120 degrees of rod butt rotation. Way too much in my opinion for a beginner cast.

The other factor is the stroke path. That is the movement of the rod butt handle through space. Rather than just rotating the rod around the butt cap, the rod can move back and forth, up and down, right and left. Whereas the rod butt rotation occurs in a two dimensional space with the base of a rod fixed at a point, the stroke path is the movement of the rod through a 3 dimensional space.

To illustrate the difference, look at this video from Sexy Loops that uses a rod with the rod butt fixed to a table top. The rod is like a flexible clock hand rotating on a clock face. This is exactly the image we give to novice casters. But notice that when the rod butt is fixed, because of the shortening of the chord length of the fly rod as is flexes, every cast MUST be a tailing loop.

Click the image to open in full size.

Tailing Loops - description and cure

One of the purposes of the stroke path is to move the rod in a convex path, to correct the concave path of the rod tip as the the rod shortens due to its flex.

Click the image to open in full size.

Why does the stroke of the rod naturally go in a convex path. Fortunately the joints we use to cast with naturally move the hand in a convex path. We cast with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and sometimes with body rotation. Allow you arm to hang down loose and swing it - the hand swings in a convex arc. Bend your arm at the elbow and do a karate chop - your hand goes in a convex arc. Extend your fingers and flex your wrist in any direction - your finger tips go in an arc. Stick your arms out to the sides lie helicopter blades and rotate your body - your hand go in a convex arc. In fact, almost every hitting sport like tennis, golf, baseball moves the arms in an arc and so does throwing a baseball. So convex movements are natural and concave are unnatural.

The problem with the clock face is that 10 - 2 (120 degrees) or even 10 - 1 (90 degrees) is too great a rod butt rotation for a beginner and it introduces the "fact" that the optimum degree of rotation is fixed for all casts. Accomplished caster know that we vary the rotation depending on the length of line cast.

As we can see in the illustration below the stroke bath and the rod rotation increase as distance increases. The green, red, and blue lines sow the increasing degrees of the arc on the imaginary clock face. So forget 10 to 2 o'clock as the optimum degree of rotation. It is not.

Click the image to open in full size.

I once read a study on the optimum amount of rod butt rotation for a beginner's cast and if I recall correctly it was well under 90 degrees. Since beginners tend to overdo the rod butt rotation, I use 10 -12 or (60 degrees). For longer casts and for the Lefty Kreh method you lay the rod back and the degree of rod rotation as see as a clock face from above can be almost 180 degrees.

Here is a slow motion video of Lefty making a moderate distance cast indoors. IF is here really hauling line, you would see that he lays the rod back even further and stops even later.


Look a how much he lays the rod back and how far forward he stops in the first part of this video.

Lefty part 2 - YouTube

Casting is dynamic and the stop points, rod angle and and stroke paths change with the distance and air resistance.

What I would recommend is that you STOP trying to make long casts using the Lefty Kreh method. What I do recommend is that you begin by making short casts using the Lefty Kreh method, and then working up to longer casts.

The keys to efficient casting are a SLP of the rod tip, HARD stops (the hammer example) and proper timing of rod tip acceleration.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:47 PM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Update: I tried the harder stops (more sudden) on both back and front casts, and noticed a HUGE difference in line speed and tighter loop on the fron cast. Great. That gives me something to work with. I also experimented with plain overhead casting, and then adding *micro hauling and got a feel for what hauling can do.

I think I at least have something to work with now....I just need a LOT more practice.

When I haul on the backcast I know I need to "wait" for the line to draw my hand back toward the reel, but sometimes I never get this pressure. Is this due to not enough "stop" on the backcast and just not enough power?

Thanks again all -- I really learn a lot by reading your posts and I enjoy the sport more every time I go out there!
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Old 07-23-2012, 10:20 PM
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Default Re: Side-arm cast woes -- need advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbineblade View Post
When I haul on the backcast I know I need to "wait" for the line to draw my hand back toward the reel, but sometimes I never get this pressure. Is this due to not enough "stop" on the backcast and just not enough power?
Most people need quite a bit of line out to get the feel for feeding the line back. The added mass of more line helps but should be coupled with enough line speed in a straight line path to really have the line want to feed back.
Also, make sure your line is clean and slick or you might never get it to feed back!
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