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Old 08-27-2013, 04:07 PM
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Default Casting style - action preference...

I was wondering how much of one's casting style and action preference is built into us before we ever pick up a fly rod, how much is learned from early experience and how much is developed through practical experience?

For example in general surfing style back in my younger days in California and Hawaii, I was a smooth, stylish surfer versus an aggressive, quick turning hot dogger, that seems to have translated into my casting style, long slow timed casting with softer slow action rods. On the other hand I learned to fish with slow by comparison fiberglass rods and only made the switch to graphite after fishing fiberglass over 25 years. By that time I was well accustomed that style of casting, a Sage RPL seemed way to quick and jerky to me. where the smoother Winston IM6 and Scott PowrPly felt better.

Finally, there seem to be situations, casting into wind, casting big heavy flies or going for distance, where you used to just use a heavier line, now you can stay light but with a fast canon speed rod.

It seems to me that I see a lot of younger guys and a lot of fishing guides preferring fast action rods, while a lot of us older guys prefer the feel of a slow action dry fly rod. Is that your experience as well? Is it because we were brought up on fiberglass or bamboo and that's just feels right to us? I recently fished the Big Hole a full day with my 590 Z-Axis out of a raft. I had a great day fishing and the rod performed almost perfect. I caught two fish over 20" and maybe 30 Rainbows between 15" and 18". The rod did everything I asked it to do and fishing was definitely fun, but the rod still lacked "feel" to me.
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Last edited by glacierjohn; 08-27-2013 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:06 PM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

Fast action rods feel to me exactly like something someone from the Bass Masters competitions designed. Sure, you can catch a trout on them. You can catch a trout on a fast action musky bait casting outfit. But it ain't 'trout' fishing. Not in my mind personally.

Give me something with feel,,a good mid action or slow action trout rod.

But hey, I don't even know how to play xbox. So I guess I'm just out of touch.

Mike
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:20 PM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

Let me preface the following by stating its all personal opinion:

I like most fly fishermen started with the fastest action rod there was at the time. Why? As a beginner it really didn't take too much skill to flop out the line with a fast action rod. Just wave it back and forth and let it go. Wing it and fling it.

As I have progressed in my fly fishing journey I have come to enjoy the slower smoother action of Bamboo and Fiberglass. That's one reason I mainly build and fishing those two mediums. They have the "It" factor. Each one seems to develop its own character. I have handed my Bamboo rods to several buddies in casting slumps. A few minutes of casting the Bamboo and really feeling the rod and boom... casting slump over. Then all they had to do was translate that to the plastic rod. Can't cast it if you can't feel it

If a caster sits back and feels what a slower Bamboo and Fiberglass rod tells them the casting/ fishing experience can be amazing. But, many folks aren't willing to let the rod lead them, they feel they have to lead the rod. Hence their adversion to the slower rods.

Granted there is a time and place for each type of rod. High winds and many saltwater conditions come to mind. But for the pure joy of the experience, I'll grab Bamboo or Fiberglass first everytime.

Again just my $.02
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:59 PM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

I understand that faster and slower when describing rod actions are relative. With that understood, there are still general statements that can be made and are true most of the time.

Faster rods have several advantages that make them easier to cast than slower rods of identical line ratings for beginners.

First a faster rod bends less than slower rods for a given line load. And for incremental increases in load (length of line cast), they bend incrementally less. Why is this important?

Readers of my previous posts on casting will understand that the rod tip comes closer to the casting hand as the rod flexes. The casting stroke must compensate for this rod flex to cast a tight loop. Because a slower rod flexes more for incremental loads, a slower action fly rod's tip to casting hand distance varies more as more line is cast. A beginner has a harder time making this adjustment. Beginners will tend to cast a tailing loop as line length increases OR they will overcompensate by casting a wider loop. Simply put a slower rod requires a greater range of convexity of the casting stroke to compensate for the varying distance of line.

Secondly, not only must the arc of the casting stroke change more, the casting stroke itself must be longer for equivalent length of line cast with a slower vs a faster rod. Said another way, you need a longer stroke to cast the same distance with a slower rod.

Both of these changes means the cast takes longer to perform with a slower fly rod. And the softer/slower rod is more sensitive to sudden accelerations of the casting stroke. This makes it more difficult to maintain a SLP of the rod tip over a range of casting distances. The slower rod requires a smoother rate of acceleration. The faster rod is more tolerant of rod strokes that are not smoothly accelerated.

Thirdly, a slow rod takes longer to straighten after the stop. This degree of delay in rod straightening vs a faster rod increases as line load increases. The delay of rod straightening means the amount of delay between the stop on the backcast and beginning the forward cast changes more for a slower rod vs a faster rod. Again, the slower rod requires more timing adjustments by the caster.

These adjustments in rod stoke shape, length, timing, and sensitivity to acceleration means that the slower fly rod is more difficult for the beginner as they try to cast various lengths of fly line.

The single advantage of a slower rod is that it is easier for a beginner to feel the bend or line load with less than 30 feet of line. I counter that by using a moderately fast rod rather than a fast rod and using a heavier line to make it seem that the rod is casting a longer length of line.

Finally, beginners tend to buy the type of rod action with which they were taught. A slow rod is just not as versatile as a faster fly rod. So a beginner needs an all around fly rod that can handle dry flies and double nymphing rigs.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

Great info above: 5 Star thread working here.

Personally, the lower the number the 'wimpier' the rod, action wise.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:37 AM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

Thanks to everyone, all are great comments, Silver Creek wrote the best description of what actually happens casting fast versus slow that I have ever read.

I am basically a self taught fly caster, my total formal training was my Dad giving me a Wright-McGill spin-fly pack rod with seven weight level line on my 15th birthday in 1965. We went out on the school yard grass across the street. I remember my Dad putting a folded newspaper under my arm, telling me to hold it in place with my elbow while I cast, he coached me not to go too far back on my back cast and to turn my head and watch the back cast extend behind me before starting my forward cast.

That was it, the rest of it for good or bad has been almost 50 years of OJT. To be honest I never really got that much into the technical aspects of casting, I just gravitated toward rods that felt right and over the years learned how to put a fly where it needed to be without much thought. Joining this forum has made me think more about it and wonder if I have been unnecessarily close minded to certain aspects of fly fishing.

John
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:41 AM
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Exclamation Re: Casting style - action preference...

Hear you John, this is one that 'Management' needs to pin to the top.

Fred
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:51 AM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

"I was wondering how much of one's casting style and action preference is built into us before we ever pick up a fly rod, how much is learned from early experience and how much is developed through practical experience?"

This is an excellent and complex question, Glacier. Silver, as usual, provides knowledgeable technical perspective and Fred legitimately scores five stars. There are several "personal preference" elements here including; casting style, ability, experience, rod aesthetics and designer loyalties, extent of experimentation and need, or lack of, to adapt to varying angling environments. There is also the more objective issue of performance requirements. If one delights in swinging a soft hackle caddis pupa through a rifle, casting beneath the canopy in a foliage-choked mountain brook vs. presenting a precise stage emergent mayfly to a spring creek sipper or powering a herring imitation to an autumn striper, different types of rods and styles are optimally called for. Then there is the question of pure casting technique. The argument is legitimately posed that casting skill development; the ability to form a loop and accurately cast at short medium, long and very long distances (long beyond the scope of normal angling) will inform and enhance your presentation under less demanding fishing situations.

There are three rods leaning on my desk at the moment and, leaving the 12-weight aside, by exemplary coincidence, one is my very first fly rod ever, a Sewell Dunton 8' 3 pc. for HDH line which I fished exclusively with a little Medalist for the first six years of my fly fishing life. I fished it on the Beaverkill, Willlowemoc and the Madison and the Fork. It was my only fly rod. Next to it is a rod I built on a Phillipson glass blank that is a 7'/#4 with a still pleasing mid flexing action. There were no schools or videos in my youth and I taught myself to cast, sort off. OK, not quite like the Rajeff brothers. I have improved over the seasons, with a little help from my friends, to the extent that I occasionally instruct casting now. Along the way, things have changed. Graphite was introduced by Fenwick in 1984. My first graphite was a SF-built Scott 5-weight from the genius, Harry Wilson, then early Orvis models; Fare&Fine then the Western Series...considered "fast" at the time but decidedly "mid" today. That was put into perspective by Sage RPL and Loomis IMX. Then one day, fishing the East Branch with an old chum and FFF certified casting instructor, he excitedly said, "You've got to try my brand new rod, it's amazing". He handed me a pre-production sample 9'/#5 G.Loomis GLX and changed my angling life. It was an epiphany!

I had developed a long tip travel stroke because I fished slow to medium action rods and sometimes required larger river distances. In any stroke sport, the longer the stroke the more variation potential exists in the path of that stroke as your muscle and joint movements are imparted into it. Too, I was accustomed to the FEEL of the mass of the rod bending under load; precisely what cane aficionados love about the complex transitions of a taper devised by one of the master builders. GLX and even more clearly, original Redington's, Nti "Nano" represented a clean sheet of paper. NOT about feeling the ROD load but about the rod transparently communicating the LINE's movement. Additionally, the crisper much faster recovering (due to rod mass reduction as well as more sophisticated tapers) tips of these new rods encouraged the adoption of a more compact stroke with reduced movement anomalies and a more precisely controllable application of power under smoother acceleration.

I discarded the enjoyable comfort of habitual behavior and refined my casting stroke to be far more efficient, less taxing on my elbow and shoulder and "high performance". Certainly, when I pull out one of my older rods or am offered some divine cane masterpiece, old or new, to sample; I have not forgotten how to cast it or how wonderful fine cane is. However, as a dry fly presentation specialist or saltwater flats sight fisherman, I discovered and whole heartedly adopted eschewing the feel of the rod's mass loading (though of course even with the lightest, fastest rod one still FEELS it) in favor of articulate interaction with the movement of the line and ultimately, the fly. To deliver, through your casting stroke, energy into the rod to load it with the amount of fly line intended while forming pointed, tight, smooth, stable loops, seamlessly transferring this energy into a long leader that can be turned over in air affording time and opportunity to generate in air mends so your fly alights precisely and delicately with leader and line following in current offsetting controlled curves, is a wonderful thing. An accurate tracking, quick recovering tip with minimal oscillation is an enormous asset in such presentations while the deeper flexing, slower recovering tip is a decided detriment difficult to compensate for. This is learned from comparative evaluation experience. There is also far more sensitivity communicated by a crisply responsive tip and reduced deeper taper flexing. As in a softly sprung, long travel shock absorber automobile that numbly floats down the road as opposed to the tuned, taught suspension of a sports car transmitting every surface irregularity to the driver.

Weaned on the Henrys Fork in this style of fishing back in the day, I first strove to execute these casts with my venerable Dunton Supreme, full flexing cane rod with an Air Cell line. This weekend on the upper Delaware I'll likely fish my Hardy Zenith #5 from the drift boat and my Loomis NRX #4 when wading. I am a more accomplished caster today than when in my twenties but at least as relevantly, the revolution in modern fly rods, which I have intimately integrated into my life as a fly fisher, have dramatically enhanced my angling.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:00 AM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

What Silver Creek doesn't know about casting can't be much. Very impressive explanation.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:26 AM
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Default Re: Casting style - action preference...

John,

When your father placed the newspaper between your arm and body, he removed the shoulder joint from the cast. Now the elbow can only flex and extend and the wrist can abduct and adduct. Add those motions together and it forces a very convex casting motion. The rod rotates around two foci, the wrist and elbow.

The shoulder cannot move the rod forward and back through the stroke to move the tip without convexity. You can only move the rod through rotation.

The enhanced convexity of fixing the upper arm helped to balance the extreme flex of the Wright-McGill rod.

When the arm is fixed, the caster can still drop the forearm a bit sideways and rock the body back and forth to add stroke length that is not convex to balance the degree of convexity to match the rod shortening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glacierjohn View Post
I am basically a self taught fly caster, my total formal training was my Dad giving me a Wright-McGill spin-fly pack rod with seven weight level line on my 15th birthday in 1965. We went out on the school yard grass across the street. I remember my Dad putting a folded newspaper under my arm, telling me to hold it in place with my elbow while I cast, he coached me not to go too far back on my back cast and to turn my head and watch the back cast extend behind me before starting my forward cast.

John
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