Just because I'm asking questions doesn't mean that I have the answers, although it doesn't mean that I don't know them either. Sometimes both can be right. I pull the rod; I started pulling either four years ago or five years. I can't remember which exactly and it doesn't matter. Mel Krieger introduced me to puling and he was right: pulling the rod is more efficient, facilitates a deeper loading in the rod and is sexier.
I just made the last bit up.
When pulling the rod you think about leading with the elbow, your hand travels downwards as opposed to forwards, your cast comes from rotating the shoulder and there is little or no elbow extension.
Pushing on the other hand (and it has it's uses - especially when it comes to broomsticks) concentrates on taking the hand forwards in a straight line, driven by the thumb, using an extension of the elbow. It is weaker, no question there. It is also a great way to throw tailing loops (when I want to demonstrate a tailing loop I simply push upwards).
All the best casters I know are now confirmed pullers.
But it can get better; while sitting around studying various MPEGS taken in Spain over the last few weeks I suddenly realised that I take it to the extreme and it works. I was teaching the CNL instructors. These are the Master Flycasting Instructors in Spain and are the ones who have set up a flycasting committee. They are all really good casters (certainly the best in Spain) and were chosen by Mel Krieger last year.
They are also all pullers, which is nice.
I have videos of them all casting. I'm sure that they won't mind me using them for the purposes of demonstrating how you can improve your pull :-)
All of them are thinking about casting the loop forwards and because of this they all push forwards to an extent. I pull downwards. I think downwards. All forward movement is unnecessary, in fact in my opinion it is counter-productive. You simply cannot move the hand forwards quickly enough and this becomes a hindrance and when you do attempt to move the hand forward quickly the cast loses its fluidity.