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Old 08-13-2010, 07:54 AM
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Default fly fishing hard on shoulders?

I am considering taking up fly fishing because my lifetime passion of shooting competitively has come to an end. Both my shoulders have suffered rotator cuff tears. Surgery is scheduled for the left but the right cannot be fixed. I am right handed. I cannot hold up a pistol with either hand and cannot support a rifle with the left.
But I hate to give up outdoor activities, ergo, considering fly fishing. Especially since I live in one of the greatest areas in the world for it.
But, I have been told (not by a doctor) that fly fishing would be very hard on my right shoulder due to the repetitive actions involved. I don't know. At this point, the very light weight of a fly rod doesn't seem to bother me. But I haven't done more than swing a rod a few times in a store.
Anyone out there with similar experience, or is an orthopedic doctor who can cast (pun intended ) some light on this issue for me.
Thanks.
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:09 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

I'm not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!!! (Sorry, couldn't resist!!!!!)

I have torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders as well, with the left being the worst. However, I find that the motions of fly fishing (I hold the rod with my right hand) don't bother my shoulder at all. Obviously your experience may differ, depending on damage, etc.

As a matter of fact (and take into accound I'm a noob at this sport and NOT trying to cast the fly past 40 ft), I find that a good cast involves little motion of the upper arm. Most of the motion is the forearm hinging at the elbow with minimal wrist action, and I would welcome input on that statement from experienced fly fisherman.

Jamie
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Old 08-13-2010, 08:31 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

Lefty can teach you to cast without using your shoulder. During my recovery from shoulder surgery I used this technique. It works.
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Old 08-13-2010, 09:05 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

Thanks guys. Good info. No decisions yet but all this will factor into my personal equation.
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

Rifle, you might look into a big stick.
My shoulders are high milage, too much rock climbing, snow boarding etc.
Both are torn, and the right has been dislocated a few times.
I have found the 11ft. rods allow me to keep my elbow down, and fish hard all day, on big water.
If you are fishing smaller water, I'll bet you'll be fine with a 9ft.
Ease into it, have fun.
Good luck.

Jim
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:32 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigfly View Post
Rifle, you might look into a big stick.
My shoulders are high milage, too much rock climbing, snow boarding etc.
Both are torn, and the right has been dislocated a few times.
I have found the 11ft. rods allow me to keep my elbow down, and fish hard all day, on big water.
If you are fishing smaller water, I'll bet you'll be fine with a 9ft.
Ease into it, have fun.
Good luck.

Jim
Thanks. That is just the kind of first hand....er...shoulder ....experience I was looking for. What you say makes sense.
Our local rivers (North Fork, White and Buffalo) are substantial in size, there should be no problem with an eleven footer.
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:36 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rifleman1776 View Post
Thanks. That is just the kind of first hand....er...shoulder ....experience I was looking for. What you say makes sense.
Our local rivers (North Fork, White and Buffalo) are substantial in size, there should be no problem with an eleven footer.
I don't want to discourage you, but the Lefty video gave some figures about tennis elbow and rotator cuff injury. Not saying to not do it, in fact with some instruction obviously you can learn to cast without even using your shoulder as the Lefty video shows.
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:34 AM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

I've really benefitted from a light rod (8'6" 4wt), good leaders, and learning the mechanics of casting. The last one is essential, as it will allow you to load
a rod with very little effort. I cast with my rod in a horizontal plane, and can
shoot quite a bit of line with very little effort. It also helps to learn how to approach your fishing spot quietly and closely, and you'll be able to reduce your casting distance. Some rods feel tip heavy, and others don't. Get the lightest rod you can afford, with a medium fast action. Keeping the number of
false casts to 3 (max) will extend the amount of time you can fish.
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:12 PM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

The issue comes down to what Inspector Harry Callahan kept saying in the movie Magnum Force. "A man's got to know his limitations"; I fish many small streams for trout and use hardly more than my right wrist to execute casts. Knowing that you would inflame an injury by trying to fish big water and try longer casts should help you to police your fishing so that you can find an enjoyable niche where you can have a quality experience.

Small stream fishing offers the opportunity for a person to develop an intimate relationship with their surroundings and to avoid the strain of distance casting. I have several short rods that even with their reels & lines weigh hardly 8 ounces and can make most casts using nothing more than wrist action. If I were living close to you I would offer to teach you techniques that would perhaps be of value but it would be nearly impossible to do this via text on an internet page.

Good luck & my regards,

Ard
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: fly fishing hard on shoulders?

Rifleman,

DON'T let your shoulder prevent you from participating in the best sport on the planet. I was practicing this AM and have made a video just for you, to show you what is possible without using your shoulder.

An 83 year old friend who was in a coma for 2 weeks last year, and hospitalized rehab for another 2 months, with physical therapy went tarpon fishing with me late this spring. He has to place his casting arm on a bar top with his left hand - his casting shoulder is so bad. Yet he was able to throw an 11wt with a 2/0 toad 60 feet nicely without using his shoulder.

This is me, not him in the video and this style casting is completely opposite my normal style. To cast one handed without unconsciously double-hauling, I had to keep my left hand off the line and shoot it through the middle finger of my casting hand. It slipped off once, but no matter.


I am exerting considerably more force than what I would like, but I am not familiar with this type of casting stroke. With practice, I'm sure it could be smoothed out considerably.

There is nothing like fly fishing - don/t let your shoulder prevent you from getting into it.

Best regards'
Jim
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