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Rifleman1776
08-13-2010, 07:54 AM
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 :rolleyes: ) some light on this issue for me.
Thanks.

jamieof
08-13-2010, 08:09 AM
I'm not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!!! (Sorry, couldn't resist!!!!!:D)

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

yatahey
08-13-2010, 08:31 AM
Lefty can teach you to cast without using your shoulder. During my recovery from shoulder surgery I used this technique. It works.
YouTube - Lefty Kreh's casting demo - Part3

Rifleman1776
08-13-2010, 09:05 AM
Thanks guys. Good info. No decisions yet but all this will factor into my personal equation.

Bigfly
08-13-2010, 10:24 AM
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

Rifleman1776
08-13-2010, 10:32 AM
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.

oregonsteel
08-13-2010, 10:36 AM
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.

FrankB2
08-13-2010, 11:34 AM
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.

Ard
08-13-2010, 01:12 PM
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

wjc
08-13-2010, 01:13 PM
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.

YouTube- casting impared shoulder

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

Rifleman1776
08-13-2010, 01:42 PM
Wow! Jim, thanks for going to all that effort. Excellent video and instructions. I am sure it will benefit others as well.
I just came back from a garage sale with a fly rod. In keeping with my level of knowledge, I don't even know what make it is or what weight. It is light, I think a 8'. I swung it for a while in the yard and was able to get some good swings without using the shoulder.
Maybe I'll get started on the cheap at yard sales. I did talk the price down and a nice fishing vest tossed into the deal also, for $35.00.
I appreciate the interest you, and the others, have taken.
Frank

balogand
08-13-2010, 01:42 PM
Jim, great video!



Rifleman,
My grandfather was in similar shape when he taught me how to fly fish. He did essentially what Jim did in the video, although not as well. As a fellow competitive shooter, I've found that when I'm not reloading 45acp for my 1911s, I am reloading my fly box with ammunition. I'd strongly encourage you to pick up a good setup and take a few lessons. I wouldn't go too cheap on a rod either. I've been amazed as the more I've gotten into it, the nicer rods I pick up and the easier it gets. A nice rod that fits you goes a long way. This all isn't to say I've put down shooting though. I live in Michigan and frequent the Upper Peninsula to fish as much as I can. That's bear country, so my old 1911 comes for the ride. :D

wjc
08-13-2010, 03:11 PM
Rifleman,

Your welcome, and my thanks to you for the opportunity to try something different. Thanks to both of you for the kind words.

Actually, don't look at that as instruction because it is a poor example of that. It was merely a pep talk, a way to show you that with practice, you will still be able to get a fly out a respectable distance without using your shoulder.

Good instruction would be in as close to slow motion as possible with very crisp stops, very minimal application of power, and no immediate "drift" to confuse the student. I drift so quickly after the stop that it looks like I never stopped.

I was just trying to show that you can get a fly, in calm conditions, well beyond the distace that is necessary (or even practical) for 97% of all fly fishing (including salt water), without using your shoulder.

In fact, once you master the mechanics of flicking the fly forward and backward horizontally, it can be done for nearly all river and stream fishing with nothing more than your wrist, as Ard said earlier.

But as soon as you mention anything about using the wrist to a newcomer - that ALWAYS results in them driving the fly line directly into the water or bushes behind them.

I too, use primarily my wrist with just a little forearm when fishing streams. But, like Ard, I know how to aim the line where I want it to go on the backcast when doing so, and when to stop the wrist.

The best guy to talk to, and a very, very nice guy, is Ken Morrow who founded the "Adaptive Fly Fishing Institute" and teaches fly fishing to people with various handicaps. He is also very active in "Project Healing Waters" for veterans with handicaps. He used to post here quite a bit as I recall, but I forget what his user name was. Anyone?

It would definitely be advantageous for you to find a good instructor. It could mean the difference between giving up and rapid progress to a great new experience. That would also give you an opportunity to try top notch gear as Balogand was speaking about.

My thinking is that, with limited use of your shoulder and consequently a shortened casting stroke, a faster actioned rod would probably suit what, I think, your casting style will evolve into. For learning purposes, this rod could be slowed with a heavier line with a short head until you start feeling what the line is doing behind you.

There are a lot of good casters here and on other forums. Most are eager to help with problems if the caster can post a video of himself casting. It is not as good as lessons, but it better than guessing from descriptions of problems.

It's fantastic that you now own a fly rod! Congradulations!

Best of luck.

Cheers,
Jim

fredaevans
08-13-2010, 04:19 PM
There are times where you just have to use a 'single hander,' no/few options. But this is where "spey rods/switch rods come into play. If you've got more than three fingers on the top/bottom of the rod/putting your shoulders into the cast .. you're OVER KILLING the cast.:upset:
fae

gbanker
08-14-2010, 07:15 PM
Try lifting weights to strengthen your arm, elbow and shoulder. I have a little routine that I try to do every morning that takes less than 5 minutes and incorporates light weights. You should be able to see results in about a month. I guess I would have to live out the rest of my life and get back to you to report if this is a good idea and long term solution/preventative but I do feel I am being pro-active. ((I also hope it helps prevent tennis related injuries (so far, so good) as I play a lot of tennis when not fishing.))

Pocono
08-14-2010, 08:00 PM
Rifleman1776,

Casting is, basically, the art of accelerating the line in such a way that you achieve the presentation that you want for the fly that you're fishing. There are a lot of ways to do this and some of them involve very little ball-in-socket shoulder rotation; the kind that sounds like it would be difficult for you.

My own cast has, essentially, no shoulder rotation in it. It's not because I have a bad shoulder; it's just the way that I cast. There's a lot of elbow motion in it, a little bit of wrist and there's some forward and back opening of the shoulder joint, but nothing that should make you feel any discomfort with a rotator cuff injury.

If you're used to the kick-back of a big bore rifle or a high caliber pistol, then the motion of casting; whether you use a relatively open or closed shoulder position, should be no problem for you. There is nothing that's immediate or ballistic about casting that should put immediate pressure on your shoulder like firing your guns did.

The best way to proceed is probably to try it out. Get yourself to a local fly shop, take a casting lesson and see if it's OK for your shoulder. If it is, then I think that you may have found a sport that may well take the place of shooting for you; in a hurry.

Nice touch with the "1776"; a good vintage for all of us.

Good luck!

Pocono

cattech89
08-14-2010, 09:22 PM
Hey there Rifleman. Happy to hear you havent allowed your situation to discourage you. Theres not really much that I can add to what has already been said. I am fairly new at FF myself so I may be wrong in this, but I think the major issue that you would have a problem with would be if you hooked into a large fish that took a while to land.
This is just what I thought the first time that I read your post and no one else mentioned it. So......maybe someone else can weigh in on this thought and let both of us know whether or not Im blowing smoke......:D:D

Have fun and let us know your results.

wjc
08-14-2010, 09:37 PM
I don't know your situation either Rifleman or your age. My daughter played Division Tennis all last year with a chewed up shoulder. She has been doing physical therapy for the last two months and looks like she may be able to avoid extensive surgery, and may even be able to play in the Spring Season.

It never did hurt her until her elbow was above shoulder height. She was able to do curls with weights even, and play tennis - but for the serve.

Casting really should not entail any jerky motion and can easily be done with the elbox low. If you can move your elbow back and forth low, you will really not even be "handicapped".

Cheers,
Jim

Rifleman1776
08-16-2010, 08:59 AM
Lifting weights would not improve my situation.
Essentially what happened is one of my rotator cuff muscles, in each shoulder, have torn. The right one never got treatment (long story, just think "VA" for the short version) and is now so atrophied it is gone. Certain motions are impossible and for certain exertions there is zero strength. Left is the same but waiting for surgery, and waiting, and waiting.
I'm just concerned repetitive motions might aggravate the pain I have. And/or some proper casting motions might not be possible.
I purchased a light rod last week and plan to practice in the yard to learn more about what the shoulder can tolerate.

wjc
08-16-2010, 11:57 AM
Rifleman,

It can be enormously rewarding catching 12" trout or bass on light gear using only your wrist for casting as Ard says. Places abound all over the country for this type of fly fishing. In many ways it is far more enjoyable than fishing for huge fish. No stinking jet skiis on brooks or creeks!

Cheers,
Jim

Rifleman1776
08-16-2010, 12:06 PM
Rifleman,

It can be enormously rewarding catching 12" trout or bass on light gear using only your wrist for casting as Ard says. Places abound all over the country for this type of fly fishing. In many ways it is far more enjoyable than fishing for huge fish. No stinking jet skiis on brooks or creeks!

Cheers,
Jim

Thanks. Yes, I live in a fisherman's mecca, fly or otherwise. From our rivers and creeks we can catch anything from stockers to world records.
I took my new/old rod into the yard and did some casting motions for a while. No pain but there is some fatigue in the shoulder. Practice, I hope, will cure that.