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Ronan's report

Wednesday 06 March, 2013

Teaching how to stop a fly rod is fundamental in all my fly casting lessons. One of the essentials I teach, is:

- proper acceleration to an abrupt stop -

I understand proper acceleration to be a smooth (controlled) increase in rod bend. The abrupt stop implies a significant higher rate of decelerating than it was for accelerating the fly rod.

Decelerating the fly rod?

Yes, in all fly casts we accelerate (translate and rotate) the fly rod mainly to create the desired line speed. In order to shape a loop we decelerate the fly rod. This means, we simply stop it.

In fly casting we may aim for high (line) speed, low speed or anything inbetween. This means we use different rates of acceleration depending on the situation. At the end of each acceleration phase we stop the rod abruptly in order to shape proper loops. Sometimes we need wide loops (for example when fishing heavy - rod tip killing - nymphs) and often we need tight loops. Shaping a tight loop is done by accelerating and decelerating the rod tip as close along a straight line as possible. Shaping a wide loop is done by accelerating and decelerating the rod tip on a significant convex (rounded) tip path. For both kinds of loop I will stop my rod abrupt.

Now you may ask: How abrupt would you stop your rod to shape a wide loop? This simply is related to the overall desired line speed I aim for. High line speed asks for a high rate of acceleration and therefore will end with an even higher rate of deceleration. When aiming for low line speed I use a lower rate of acceleration and stop it less abrupt. But still my rate of deceleration will be higher than the rate of acceleration was.

In summary I vary my stops from more abrupt to less abrupt, but still it will be abrupt.

Now quite often I heard people using the terms "soft stop" and "hard stop". In relation to this we are having a discussion on the board about a soft stop resulting in the rod tip adding more work to the fly line compared to a hard stop (assuming the same rate and distance of acceleration to be used before stopping the rod that would be). I personally believe, that the slower the rod decelerates the farther it rotates during the process, which opens (rounds) the loop. A higher rate of deceleration reduces rotation during the stop and therefore tightening the loop. This I understand to be the most important impact by a hard or soft stop!

Anyway a "hard" stop will be (very) abrupt of course. But what exactly does a "soft" stop mean?

To me it means a lower (or at least almost similuar) rate of deceleration compared to the rate of acceleration I used for the cast. A non abrupt stop, if you like. Now you may think, we have no use for that kind of stop in fly casting. But even though I would almost tend to agree, I remember the EFFA having a task about "performing a collapsed cast" in their Basic Instructor exam. That is when I like to use a soft stop as one of the possibilities to make the cast collaps. Also we can turn the collapsing (not fully unrolling) loop in the horizontal plane, and then pass task 5 of the IFFF Master Instructor exam asking for an underpowered (or negative) curve cast.

By the way, if you hear people talking about a stopless cast, that is when no loop will ever be shaped. You have to decelerate your rod in order to shape all kind of loops you may want - even those you may never want.

Right now it's time to stop reading and go out to stop by at the best water available in your area and try to present your fly to the fish. I wish all of you proper acceleration to an abrupt stop. I have done it myself a few times leading my fly to enter the HOT ZONE mostly!

Your turn NOW - all my best


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