Distance Control

Distance Control

Andy Dear | Sunday, 24 February 2019

Last week we got to know a little bit about Geoff Mangum and the neuroscience based work he's doing with targeting and distance estimation. This week I would like to detail a concept Geoff uses to help with precise distance control on the putting green. It's called the "core putt", and I believe it may have some profound implications for distance control in fly casting as well.

The basic idea of the core putt is to become tuned in to your body's natural tempo and rhythm to more accurately and consistently place the ball (or fly) a specific distance. According to Geoff, "Everyone has their own core putt, just the way everyone has a characteristic gait and personality type." To find your core putt, "address the ball and make a very simple stroke to nowhere in particular -- the simpler the better, as few moving parts as possible -- as follows: initiate the backstroke with a little pushing off from the left shoulder rolling back to move the putter head; when you first sense that taking the putter head back any farther or higher will require some effort on your part by pushing or lifting as you feel the weight of the putter head, just quit going back and relax; now let the putter head fall back forward through the ball and roll the ball with good level contact just to see how far it will go. Simple. You don't want to "hit" the ball; just let the putter head freefall back through the impact zone. Its sort of like the putter is a hinged "pet door," and you just move the bottom of the door back out of vertical and then drop it and let it swing gently through the ball. The tempo is about what a baby elephant uses on a lazy day to swing his trunk lightly through the savannah grass. If you do this, what happens is the ball rolls a certain distance, maybe 10 feet, maybe 8, maybe 12. The distance depends on your body type, putter, ball, and characteristic manner of relating to the world with your body at this time, AND the playing characteristics of the green in terms of green speed. This core putt is always there. Try a second ball and see if it doesn't go the same distance. Both balls go pretty much the same distance. You can do this all day long, over and over. On another green or the same green on another day, all your core putts might go a different distance but they will all go the same distance." To read the full article you can visit http://www.puttingzone.com/MyTips/core.html
  As fly fisherman, we are always looking for ways to become more consistently accurate casters, and I believe this is a concept that can help. The goal here is to establish a baseline for tempo and rhythm based upon your own personal attributes that produces a certain amount of power that propels the fly a consistent and repeatable distance. Just like every golfer has a "core putt", every fly fisherman also has a core rhythm and tempo to their cast. Everyone's core cast will be different and will be dependent on your physical and psychological makeup.  My personal core cast with an 8wt hovers around 55 or so feet with the gear I currently use. As in the core putt, the distance is irrelevant, the important thing is that you tune in to your personal rhythm and tempo so the distance is consistent and repeatable. To find your core cast, all you have to is establish some basic parameters. Start with the same amount of line outside the tip for every cast...30 feet is a good length to adequately load most rods. Make a mental note or two about the length of your leader and the rod/line combo your using. Next, begin to make your cast with a moderate rhythm and tempo that feels "right" to you. The second you feel your starting to add power over and above what your rhythm and tempo are producing, STOP. Once you find your core rythm and tempo and allow line to shoot on the presentation, the distance of each of these casts should be pretty close to one another. Again, the distance is irrelevant, the important thing is that they all go a very similiar distance. You now have a baseline from which to work when casting to a target with a specific distance in mind. If your core cast is 55 feet, and you need to cast 65 feet? Simply perform your core cast plus an extra 15% more power. You can add or subtract power from the core cast incrementally as the situation necessitates. As you continue to progress, pay attention to and internalize what your core rhythm and tempo feels like. Really feel it and become familiar with it, so you know when and why you're moving outside the parameters of your core stroke in terms of power and speed.
  The distance of your "core cast" will vary depending on the rod, line, leader etc... just as the core putt in golf varies with putter types, ball design and other variables in equipment. Knowing this you can test your core cast with several different rods and lines to get a bead on exactly how different rod and line combinations are influenced by the personal tempo and rhythm of your core cast. You will also notice as a golfer does, that the distance your core stroke produces will change throughout the day as environmental conditions change. This is to be expected, so it is wise to retest and recalibrate as say wind increases or decreases.
  Where this concept really shines is sight fishing the flats...especially with a guide calling distances. Being able to produce a cast on cue, that places the fly a very specific and repeatable distance is invaluable in this type of angling situation. Not only does it reduce the number of follow up casts required to adjust for faulty distance estimation, but it also cuts down on the number of false casts required to aid in estimating the distance in the first place. So the next time you're on the deck of a flats skiff, and the guide calls out " 65 feet at 11:00" there should be little to no thought or hesitation as to how much power should be applied to get the fly in the strike zone.
  Next week we'll go back to fishing related topics for a while. The weather is starting to warm a bit here in Central Texas, and I have big plans to chase some hefty Largemouth Bass this year...more to follow on this.

Hope you guys have a great week,