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The Fly Cast Discuss fly casting with the expert, ask for help, learn to cast farther, increase your accuracy, troubleshoot your cast.

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Old 03-08-2014, 09:21 PM
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Default Loading the rod

It's almost a mantra. I believe there is way too much concern with "loading the rod", especially on short casts, to the detriment of learning how to cast.

The object is not to feel the rod loading but to feel the weight of the line. If there is only one foot of line out the rod tip, it is not even necessary to feel it - and certainly not to really "Load the rod". Anyone can cast a foot of line without feeling it, or 2 feet, or 10 feet or 20 feet and it doesn't take a huge "rod load" to do it.

It is when you start getting more line in the air that feeling the line becomes more important.

As far as feeling a rod load and unload, that can be done without a line even strung on the rod - and tells you nothing but that the rod is loading against its own inertia or unloading against your stop and then counterflexing. All without a line on it.

So you should not be trying to feel the rod load; instead, you should be trying to feel what the line is doing. Do you feel the weight of the line in your line hand shortly after the backcast or forward false cast? If you are shooting line into the backcast, how fast is it flying out? Same with the forward cast if fishing at night.

What you are striving for is to get the rod to begin moving the end of the line at the same time you begin rotating the rod AND in the same direction as you are rotating the rod.

If you begin rotating the rod forward too soon, the end of your line will will speed up, but going the opposite way your rod is rotating. So you have wasted that portion of your forward rotation until the end of the line starts going forward - very possibly without your fly on it.

If you had a great backcast and start forward too late, the line will spring forward at turnover, creating slack that will have to be removed with a portion of your rotation before the end of the line begins moving. And of course, the line will be dropping toward the ground as well.

So, your line hand is very important to your timing. But how do you decifer what you are feeling into useful information? By watching your backcast! And feeling and hearing line shooting through the guides too. I strongly urge that people watch their backcasts a good percentage of the time when they are practicing or having a bad day when fishing.

By watching your backcast while feeling with your line hand, you will learn what different backcasts feel like.

And after a while, when you feel a marginal backcast while casting 3/0 tarpon flies or large heavy nymphs, you will decide in a split second whether to abort the cast or go for it and do the extreme stretch and haul followed by the duck and cringe - protecting your most valuable body parts.

I actually took a short video today of casting a 4 wt line on a Sage 12 wt Xi3. It is very simple to cast short distances with it. Long distances are not so easy or fun though because short casting strokes are still required with a 4 wt line on it, and 12 wts are not so easy to accelerate and decelerate in a short casting arc, especially for a guy under 150 lbs.

Cheers,
Jim
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:45 PM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

Hi Jim,

Great posting here!

Ard
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Old 03-09-2014, 08:23 AM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

Thanks, Ard!
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:39 AM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

I stuck this thread Jim,

These are the kind of posts that made the forum great, being a sticky will keep it easy to find for reference when people ask questions about exactly what you have laid out here.

Ard
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Old 03-09-2014, 11:46 AM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

Good post.

decipher. Sorry, the spelling Nazi inside me had to post that.

Peace.
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Old 03-09-2014, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

My opinion is that what is being discussed comes down to timing. Whether you feel the rod load or see the fly line unfurl, what is being felt or seen are the clues that allow the caster to perform the proper casting motions at the proper time.

In my opinion it not either feeling the load or watching the fly line. I think that is a false dichotomy. You can both feel the rod and watch the fly line. One sense reinforces the other. In addition to feeling the fly rod load, our body has proprioception.


Our body has the unique ability to determine the location of our body parts in space, its location relative to each other body part, and to know the amount of force and resistance we are both sensing and exerting. Without proprioception, we would not be able to stand up in complete darkness and cast a fly at fish that we hear feeding.

It is proprioception that enables us to cast our fly line without looking at the line or the fly rod. We are able to place our eyes on the target and deliver the fly to it. How is that possible?

It is possible because our mind, which controls our body, learns through repetition what levels of proprioception feedback and actions result in the best possible cast regardless of how much line is out or what weight and shape of fly we are casting. We call it this type of learning muscle memory, a type of procedural memory based on repetition.

It is the same ability that allows a quarterback to throw a pass 40 yards down the field so that the football and receiver meet in a 4 dimensional universe of space and time. It is quite remarkable.

So whatever sense we are using whether feeling or seeing, the sense is not the end product itself. It what we use to build muscle memory so the fly casts become automatic. The more senses we use to build that muscle memory, the more quickly we learn. We should both use sight and proprioception.

Proprioception is automatic. I think what Jim is saying is that we should not rely on proprioception alone. We should add visual cues as well. One of the reasons a beginner's forward cast is most often better than the backcast is that the beginner automatically looks at the forward cast. So placing a beginner's feet at a 45 degree angle to the direction of the cast allows the beginner to turn and see his backcast.

In my opinion it does not matter whether the cast is short or long. In my experience a beginner actually does better on short casts because the tendency of a beginner is to immediately start the forward cast after the stop on the back cast. When the casts become longer and the delay between the backcast and forward cast becomes longer, there is more opportunity for mistiming. I believe this is actually when looking at the backcast is most valuable as a teaching aid.
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Old 03-09-2014, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

I agree here that we should look at our backcast, but looking can lead to some serious faults if we can't recover from the shoulder swing and the rod path that swing can take on the back and forward cast. In my case I don't want to have to manipulate my normal fishing cast stance and posture to gain distance for the lawn, parking lot, tournament shot. Thinking about this I can't recall ever see a fly fisher in actual fishing conditions watching his backcast, with experience most fisherman develop a sense for what's behind them and what their cast is doing. I peek on the practice field but like to keep peeking to a minimum because it alters the way I'd normally cast when in fishing conditions.

I'm with you on left hand control....an absolute essential. It's one thing that Ritz drilled into my head after studying his methods in "A Fly Fishers Life". I have saved many a cast with hauls. I constantly monitor my casting for any slack between the line hand and the stripping guide and consciously try to keep tension in the line by following the cast with my left hand....both the rod hand and the left hand are in concert. I see so many casters make the backcast and the left hand doesn't follow the flow of the back and forward movements that are taking place.

I also like your experiment with the 4wt line and the 12 weight rod. I have long thought that a fly rod will cast any weight fly line. To me in the end it's how you fish and your habits that make a comfortable rig to fish.
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Old 03-09-2014, 03:39 PM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

Turning 45 degrees to the target and watching the back cast is exactly how I was taught over 20 years ago. Just as excellent advice now as it was then, and something I still do when trying a new rod or line.

Nice thread guys, thanks!
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Old 03-09-2014, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

I always watch my backcast when testing an unfamiliar rod or rod/line combination. It's really the only way I know to match the timing and feel. Once, that's established I can turn my attention forward again.
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Old 03-09-2014, 04:17 PM
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Default Re: Loading the rod

Quote:
Originally Posted by calftail View Post
I agree here that we should look at our backcast, but looking can lead to some serious faults if we can't recover from the shoulder swing and the rod path that swing can take on the back and forward cast. In my case I don't want to have to manipulate my normal fishing cast stance and posture to gain distance for the lawn, parking lot, tournament shot. Thinking about this I can't recall ever see a fly fisher in actual fishing conditions watching his backcast, with experience most fisherman develop a sense for what's behind them and what their cast is doing. I peek on the practice field but like to keep peeking to a minimum because it alters the way I'd normally cast when in fishing conditions.
I agree with you that when a caster rotates their head to look at their backcast, the tendency is to move the fly rod tip in an arc convex away from the body as seen from above. This result in a curve to the fly cast, a curve to the left for a right handed caster. But for a beginner this is preferable to a mistimed cast.

I will also agree that while fishing it is rare to look at the backcast. The only time I look my backcast is when my backcast can catch on the tops of vegetation or when I am aiming my backcast into a space between trees.

But when a cast must be as perfect as possible even the best fly casters watch their backcasts.

If you watch tournament casters like Steve Rajeff, they routinely look at their backcast because even a small mistiming could be the difference between first place and 5th place. Here's a video of Steve Rajeff and Peter Kutzer of Orvis with their double haul videos. Both look at their backcasts as their casts get longer and longer.

What this tells me is that even at the highest level of casting excellence, visual feedback is important, not only to track the direction of the backcast but to time the beginning of the forward cast.


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