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Casting Strokes

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A question of technique

Hi Paul

Over the years, my casting style (for distance) has evolved erratically towards the Lefty Kreh approach (open stance, side back cast w/arm fully extended behind, no drift needed, a throw on the forward cast) rather than the Joan Wulff style (your technique seems to be an extreme version of this). From your clip (movie clip), it is difficult to see how you can get significant distance (tho' I am sure you do and know that exponents like Jim Green and Steve Rajeff certainly do) since the distance over which the rod hand travels seems relatively short. Clearly, though, it can impart a lot of power. What seems intuitively appealing about the Kreh method is that the rod hand covers the maximum possible distance and presumably, therefore, the rod reaches the maximum load. Any thoughts on what is wrong with this logic?

Michael Nowak

Paul answers

Hi Michael,

Thanks for this question; it is a good one and something that really interests me. I've spent an awful lot of time experimenting with different strokes, searching for the 'perfect stroke' and the only conclusion to which I've positively come, is that there are a hell of a lot of different styles out there, and almost everyone seems to think that they have it mastered. Well, not I. I'm still looking, which kind of keeps me open minded, I guess.

What follows is my opinion.

Distance is all about loop shape and line speed. With regards to loop shape the best shape loop is pointed and narrow. Without a doubt, the best place to stick the point is at the top of the loop. This (a) gives a perfectly horizontal line at the top of the loop and (b) creates a wedge shape. Narrow loops are a result of a straight path of the rod tip (always assuming that the backcast and the forward cast are in the same plane). Pointed loops are a result of rod tip cushioning (relaxing the hand immediately after the 'stop'). *I* stick the point at the top of the loop by casting from an almost horizontal position to an almost vertical position (I do this using an extended drift on the backcast and pulling down aggressively on the forward cast – this still allows the rod tip to travel perfectly horizontally).

So what of line speed?

Line speed is governed by how much bend you can put in the rod (the spring bit), how quickly you can get the line moving through the air (leverage) and by the speed of the haul.

The flex in the rod is actually rather interesting. I'm sure you will have leaned the tip of the rod against something and bent it to its maximum. The interesting bit is that, although even the most progressive of rods will bend all the way through to the butt, they don't actually take a hell of a lot of force to do this. The other point is that the size of the rod arc required to keep the tip moving in a straight line is actually much smaller than most people realise (hence all the open loops you see). Once you have acquired your maximum bend, increasing the size of the rod arc, will do nothing more than increase the width of the loop.

If maximum flex is easy to obtain (and it is just by aerialising sufficient line) then the governing factors over distance must be line speed due to haul and stroke.

Speed of the haul itself is, without doubt, one of the most overlooked parts of flycasting. As is timing. What is required is a fast haul at the very END of the stroke, as the 'stop' is being made. NOT throughout the stroke as so many instructors teach.

So what we have left is speed of the rod tip.

One would have logically thought that by moving the rod tip further as you suggest, you would be able to impart greater speed. And this is true! (This is another reason why I drift so far behind). However of greater importance in my opinion is the abruptness of the 'stop'.

By rotating the upper arm to perform the cast and nothing else, I can make the most aggressive stop. It is very much a downward chopping action. If I extend the elbow and try to 'push' the cast out there I cannot stop nearly so abruptly. If you try the actions with an empty hand you will see what I mean. It also happens that chopping is more powerful than poking.

This said, I should add that when I cast, I think about a slow, heavy stroke and a fast, light haul, and forget all about tip speed. By making a fast stroke with the rod arm I do not appear to be able to force such a deep bend in the rod.

Of course, with a purely tip action rod, you can't force a deep bend in the rod anyway and under such circumstances it is necessary to resort to rod hand speed. Under such conditions I will cast in the way you suggest. Which also may very well explain some the different styles of the guru's you mention…

I hope this helps!!!!


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