Shoot v Carry

Shoot v Carry

Tracy&James | Sunday, 14 March 2021

This week Nick Moore and I were discussing distance casting and had an idea for a test. I, along with others, have been helping Nick improve his distance casting up to a competition standard. His progress has been pretty spectacular going from a typical ~100ft maximum to over 120ft in a short time. His target is now to cast a #5 over 130ft at which point I think he’ll fare pretty well in most competitions (he’ll probably beat me!). The main thing that has helped Nick improve is his desire and drive to advance, if someone is willing to put the long hours into practicing then improvements will happen, not necessarily at the pace of Nick’s, but they will come.

I’ve written many times here that I like to practice with shooting heads cut from old lines, this fixes the carry point to a pre-determined length.  Nick has also taken this on board, fortunately he has more lines than the average tackle shop so has been able to make up shooting heads that are a challenge to him in terms of the carry (once it stops feeling like a challenge then it’s time to make a longer head).  Practising carry is vital for distance casting because we know that maximum distance generally comes from a well-controlled, long line that is subsequently shot.  It is often quoted that the typical ‘shoot’ is 50% of the carry, thus if you want to cast 120ft plus you need to carry 80ft and shoot the rest.  In my conversation with Nick, I noted that I’ve never actually measured my shoot, so I decided to rectify that and I’ll present the results that I got from my initial, quick test below.

Before I get into my results, I should point out the limitations of my data (or a list of excuses if you wish).  Firstly, I was time-limited on a blustery day.  As such, I didn’t have time to get to my usual open field and had to make do with casting on a close-by football pitch.  Unfortunately the direction of the wind meant it was blowing through some trees and then sideways across the football ground.  Not wanting to cast in a side-wind for this test meant that I orientated myself to cast across the pitch and not only did I run out of room for my cast, I found the turnover was seriously affected by the back-wash from a spectator stand (I’m sure the stand would have been full of cheering casting fans if it wasn’t for Covid).  I’ll also say that I didn’t put much thought into the outfit I used, just grabbing my usual distance rod, a TCX #10, as I went out of the door.  In hindsight this perhaps wasn’t the best choice for the shortest carries that I ended up measuring.

The test I conducted was a simple one; firstly I fixed my carry by measuring the line from the tip to my hauling hand and then I made a cast, I repeated this five times for each carry starting at 5m and going up to 22.5m (where I ran out of room).  At this point I should thank Tracy for being my marker and carry setter.  She had to run out to measure each cast and then run the tip of the line back to my length marker so I could pull-up tight to ensure the carry was accurate for each cast.  As such, she did a lot of running backwards and forwards whilst all I had to do was cast.

Normally for this type of test I’d do more casts and perhaps disregard the shortest and the longest casts as outliers, or just calculate a mean and a standard deviation, however due to having to get it done quickly I didn’t get sufficient data to do this.  Hence what I present below is all the casts, i.e. the good, the bad and the ugly.  At each carry there are 5 data points, if it looks like less in the chart below it is because some of the points overlap.


The first thing I’ll point out about the results is that I was using a 3m leader.  As you can see my results at a carry of 5m are spectacularly bad – obviously an 8m cast would result from simply laying the line and leader out in a straight line!  It was here that I regretted my choice of rod as the two metres of line outside of the tip (noting that this was also the front taper, so less mass than the belly) meant that I had to use a very truncated stroke to get any sort of a tight loop from the very stiff rod.

I was perhaps expecting to see an inflexion in the resultsaround the 20m carry point where I predicted the distance would jump up as I started getting the WF line I used into overhang (the total head length is 18m).  It is possible that this would have happened if it wasn’t for the weird turbulence as my casts got nearer to the spectator stand, certainly Tracy noted that often the fly was behind the tip of the fly-line or off to the side somewhere.  I intend to repeat this test on my open field sometime soon, so I’ll see if the results are any different there.

Given the issues above, perhaps the next analysis is a step too far – but I’ve tried to estimate the shoot for each cast.  I didn’t ask Tracy to measure where the end of the fly line ended as well as where the fly landed, so the best I can do is subtract the 3m leader length and present that figure as a percentage of the carry.  Doing that I get the following:

D8173572-5AA2-4DA6-B06F-DDB605B90F69This clearly shows my struggles with the 5m carry and the stiff rod.  The rest of the data is perhaps too scattered to draw any conclusions at this point other than indicating that the ‘carry 80ft, shoot 40ft’ 50% ratio maybe errs on the side of caution.  The average shoot I recorded (excluding the 5m data) was 60%, although I very much think that this was weather affected.  The chart also clearly highlights the longest cast I did in the test as an outlier with a shoot of over 100% from a 17.5m carry.  This is the sort of cast you pray for in a competition, i.e. one that flies inexplicably further than anything else you cast.

Given the limitations of my initial test, I think I’ll repeat it when I have more time and can get to my normal field.  I might add some extra variables like different rods, lines and perhaps a different caster – I can do the running around whilst Tracy casts.  

Have a great week,