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Old 11-06-2011, 01:15 PM
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Default A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

I have often read in this forum that there is an association between shoulder or elbow pains with stiff rods. Do you guys think that there is a link between stiffer rod and shoulder or elbow?

I actually have no definite answer to that question. At the beginning of my fly fishing journey my cast was poor where I was using my shoulder a lot to cast further, especially when I was trying to shoot the line. And I began to feel shoulder pains. At that time I was using a medium fast rod. So I can not say that how much a medium fast rod contributed to my shoulder pains.

Fast forward to the present time, I have been using relatively slower rods and my casting get better that I am using my shoulder less. The other day I borrowed a Temple Fork BVK 6 wt, which I believe is one of the stiffest rods, to practice long distance casting for about a month, I actually did not feel any shoulder pain at all. My tentative conclusion at this point is that although a stiff rod may contribute to aggravating shoulder or elbow pains, maybe it is our casting that plays a more important role.

Having said that, since there are so many variables out there, I can not be affirmative about my assumption. For example, I am much better shape than 5 years ago.
Anyway what do you guys think?
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:28 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

I injured my shoulder two or three years ago trying to distance cast a rod I had never cast before without warming up first and getting a feel for for rod.

I think one of the big keys to avoiding injury is to thoroughly loosen up before beginning physically stressful activities. When fishing is very slow, I will regularly take a few casts at the big blue even though nothing is there. This becomes more important the older we get.

But I do not think that the rod action itself makes all that much difference, though I have heard otherwise. From what I've seen from friends coming down here, line weight does make a big difference, and most cannot throw a 12 wt for very long before having to quit - often winding up in severe pain the following day.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:52 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

When I know that I'm going to be false casting my 10wt all day I wear both a wrist and an elbow brace. If I had a shoulder brace I'd probably wear that too.
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

Here's my story:
I injured my right shoulder in a catastrophic way in a 2002 bicycle crash. I had to baby it for more than a year, and it still hurts. I began using 7 1/2' 4wt rods, and that made my shoulder ache less. Around 2004, I bought a fast action 5wt, and went for distance fishing for smallmouth on a large river. The pain returned, but wasn't too bad. Fast foward a few more years, and I began using a fast action 9' 5wt for everything. I didn't notice any shoulder pain. A year later, I began using my 8 1/2' 4wt for nearly all of my fishing: lakes, rivers, streams; big fish, little fish; small flies and big flies. My longer fast action rods was little use for over a year, but then I decided to flinging a Clouser Minnow into the wind on the Delaware River was too much. My fast 9' 5wt returned came out of the closet, and I decided I was going to toss that sucker as far as possible. The result was almost immediate shoulder pain that would last well into the next couple of days. I went back to the smaller rod, but quickly realized that I was making 3-4 false casts to get close to what the fast 9 foot rod could do in 1-2 casts. I also realized that my shoulder was probably ripe for pain because of all the over-casting I had been doing with the 4wt (and CLOUSERS!!!), and it was time to start working smarter.

This year I've used a combination of both the fast 9' 5wt and the slower 8 1/2' 4wt, trying to match the rod to the distance, fly, and fish. I've had zero shoulder pain, but my elbows hurt a LOT lately. I could jump to the conclusion that casting down to the backing is putting too much pressure on my elbows (the left elbow gets used for hauling), but I sleep with my elbows bent bent over my head....think "Duck and Cover"...LOL! It's probably the sleeping position that's causing my elbows to hurt, and is exacerbated by trying to hit the other side of the lake with a 5wt rod. I was standing on top of the railing along a fishing pier last week, trying to gain an edge in keeping my back cast up. Today's fishing was done at close distances, and with light flies, and my elbows still hurt.

I would conclude that when people get a fast rod, they're going to test the rod's limits. It's just as likely that they'll find their own limits, and that might anifest itself in some sort of pain or injury. I decided a couple years ago that I'd rather get closer to the fish, mostly because my 8 1/2 4wt was too much work to throw far. That all goes out the window when I'm on a lake, and I have to realize that I'm not getting any younger. My Google search for fly fishing and sore elbows revealed that I'm not alone, and many people say that distance casting gave them tennis elbow. More than one website had comments about hand grip and elbow pain, with an index finger on top grip causing the tendons to pinch the ulnar nerve (or something to the effect).
Guess who casts with his index finger fully extended.

When I first got my fast 9' 5wt, I was a little underwhelmed at its performance. After working with it for a while, I realized that I was putting too much effort into the cast, and the rod didn't like that. Once I realized how to work with the rod, I then decided that all that 70-90 foot casting stuff wasn't just wishful thinking, but be careful how you do it, and the suggestions about warming up make perfect sense. I never do, however...??? I'm back on my bicycle again, and that puts a lot of pressure on my elbows as well, so I don't know what to do. I'm alright with backing off a bit, but I don't do well with stopping. I had to stop riding my bike for close to 5 years because of the 2002 accident, and I gained an unbelievable amount of weight. That weight is 90% gone, and that a relief!

While googling elbows and fly fishing, the elbow supports that Rip mentioned were cited quite a bit. I'll have to look into that,
if only to keep my arm from bending so much when I sleep. There's supposed to be a sleeping brace for tennis elbow, but that sounds too uncomfortable. I'd much rather wait until I can't lift a coffee cup before doing something sensible.

P.S. I also don't like doctors, and never even had an x-ray for the 2002 bicycle crash. It was over a year before I could lift my right arm to turn the car radio on! My wife loves to go see doctors, so I dunno....
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

I believe the exact opposite is more the case. To me a softer rod thats less responsive is more of a drag on my arm and shoulder than a faster, stiffer rod.
Lets say your casting with a fast action "stiffer" rod. There seems to me to be much less torque on the backcast trying to get the line up to speed. A fast action "stiff" rod has more line speed generated from the tip of the rod which will of course dampen that much faster. a slower rod "softer" needs to overcome the deeper bend to the butt even to get the line moving, forcing the caster to exude even more torque. The same is true for the stop at the end of the back cast. The stiffer rod in theory should be easier to stop because the frequency of the stiffer rod will dampen faster. On the other side of the coin stopping a slower rod on the back cast is more difficult because you are fighting the momentum of the lower ferequency and fighting the inertia or momentum delivered through the blank after your arm in theory has already stopped. I am an obbsessed "park caster" and I find without a doubt a faster, stiffer rod to be much more pleasent to cast than a slower bendier action whenever I get into those marathon "distance" casting sessions i often find myself doing.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

The wrong casting motion with any rod can lead to injury. That said, folks using stiff rods probably are inclined to try to muscle it, rather than using the rod and technique to achieve casting objectives.

There's lots of ways to keep from having joint pain, but here's the simplest advice I can offer: try to cast like Lefty Kreh. Think about how many casts that guy throws every year, ho long he's been doing it, and how far he's still throwing, and its pretty obvious that's a method worth imitating.


The TFO BVK is actually not especially stiff, and I'd call it a great option for someone wanting a fast rod that doesn't require the caster to work hard. From TFO alone, the Axiom, TiCRX, Jim Teeny and even the TiCR rods are harder to work.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

"Do you guys think that there is a link between stiffer rod and shoulder or elbow?"

Just my .02 cents as the fellows above have covered the ground, but in a word: Yes. If you're going to be working with a rod over a 6wt a bit of shoulder stretching, etc., is probably a damned good idea.
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:20 PM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

when fishing my 9 wt and heavy lines I was taught to put my thumb dead on top of the grip. My shoulder still gets sore, but the stress on my elbow seems to be gone...uh...but I do whack myself in the back of the noggin occasionally when the wind is off the right. Mike
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: A link between Shoulder pain and stiff rod?

I'd say there's a link between how far you try to cast, with any type of rod, and shoulder pain.

I have a bum shoulder, but I prefer small brushy streams, so I guess I'm fortunate.
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