"it ain't heavy"

"it ain't heavy"

Tracy&James | Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tracy and I were invited to give a demonstration of distance casting at a gathering of instructors on Sunday. We went armed with the outfits that we typically practice with – a #5 full line, a #5 shooting head cut from an old MED line, a #7 full line (on a rod marked #10) and a ST27 outfit. A number of people cast these outfits after our demo and I picked up a common theme from the subsequent comments made – the ST27 outfit felt heavy!

To me this was quite an interesting observation, especially in light of the fact that no one made a similar comment about the #7 outfit.  The reason I found it interesting was because the ST27 shooting head was cut from a long belly #7 line, so the comparison was essentially between very similar lines.

The 27g line was on a very stiff, 10ft rod whereas the full #7 was on Tracy’s 9ft TCX #10.  The extra leverage working against the casters obviously has an effect, I can feel this myself, but surely an extra 12 inches is not enough to change comments from ‘that feels ok’ to ‘that’s too heavy’?  After all the static weight of the line is less than one ounce, and I don’t think that can be described as ‘heavy’ in anybody’s reckoning.

Obviously during the casting stroke the angler is not feeling the static weight of the line, but rather the force that they are applying in order to accelerate it (F = ma as we all know).  The amount of force applied, and the resulting acceleration rate, is variable and at the discretion of the individual caster.  As such, it’s perfectly possible for two people to have vastly different experiences of the effort required to move the exact same mass around.

This then brings me on to the psychology of perhaps what was happening on Sunday, bearing in mind that I’m not, in any way, shape or form, a psychologist.  If you cut a #7 line down to 27g in weight you’ll find that you end up with a shooting head that’s around 70 feet in length.  With a 10 foot rod, 5 feet of overhang, plus a 10 foot leader, the caster is faced with picking up the fly from somewhere just over 90 feet.  Now, I don’t know of anyone, other than dedicated casting sport competitors, who would practice such an extreme pick up.  As such, the casters on Sunday were faced with lifting probably double the amount of line that they’re used to.  It’s worth pointing out that all were able to aerialise a similar amount of the full line, but starting from their ‘normal’ pick up position and feeding line into the cast. (I should also point out that they were willing volunteers in this Smile).


Faced with such an enormous pick up, it is perhaps not surprising that someone, not used to such an outfit, would approach the task thinking that they would need to apply much more force than normal (either intentionally or sub-consciously).  And once the casting stroke is started with too much force then, as the acceleration rate is increased through the casting stroke, the caster soon reaches the limit of their force input.  If this point is reached before the end of the casting stroke the subsequent backing off causes a tailing loop.  Even if a tail doesn’t result, the caster will still report a feeling of having to use a lot of effort, and associate this effort with the outfit being ‘too heavy’ for them.

The solution to this is obviously to lengthen the casting stroke with the same smooth power application that you’d normally use.  Getting someone to believe that you really aren’t using any extra muscle power may prove to be harder though.  I know that practicing with the long shooting head has worked wonders for Tracy’s overall casting over the winter.  I wouldn’t say she’s completely mastered the line yet but she’s very close (she fails my 10 cycles test at the moment) – hopefully the improvement will be evident at this year’s BFCC competitions. 

All the best, James