Lessons from the Roof

Lessons from the Roof

Paul Arden | Monday, 9 November 2020

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my recent FPs I’ve been working on my left handed casting which has been truly fascinating. Several times now and for the last four nights in a row, I’ve found myself still casting when dawn makes its abrupt appearance! I’m using the Sexyloops lumiline and the HT Instructor 6.

I’ve been working on the carry competition that Lasse and I are involved in, which is how much line can we false cast for 30 seconds with the non-dominant hand, whilst blindfold! 75’ I can do for sure, I know that, but the target is 90’. I carried 90’ yesterday a couple of times but only for a four or five false casts and not while blindfold! I think to succeed in this I’ll have to be able to carry the full 97’ DT. I’ll get there; I’m just not sure I’ll get there by the 15th!!


As an instructor I’ve found the process completely absorbing. Because it’s not just carry, it’s all the control elements that go into casting. There are a lot of very fine motor skills, particularly how we turn the rod over in the hand but also how we haul the line. Hauling is something we really don’t discuss or teach deeply enough as instructors – for a long time I’ve taught that the haul controls the timing of the cast, but it is so much more than this. For me it’s almost as if the left hand haul directs the right hand what to do. Unravelling that was what I spent most of Friday night doing. I see the haul as having the same role as the conductor might have at a musical concert.


Something that I did learn, which I think will be very useful for teaching pullback, came through working on Jason’s Curve Cast/Mend. This is overpowered curve, that goes directly into a mend. The transition for me feels very close to pullback. And my left hand didn’t want to do it!


So I broke it down by using the Snapcast on the right to teach the Snapcast on the left, minimised it, and it became the same feel as pullback, which I then applied to to back and forward casts and finally to JB’s Curve.


That’s something I will try on students.


I have some more thoughts on the matter here https://www.sexyloops.co.uk/theboard/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=3390&start=10#p56550


I plan to be equally proficient with both hands and I think this is going to be quite fast now that I’ve got over the initial hurdles. Working through the presentation casts was my Saturday night session. There is a large control element in these casts that is interesting to learn when crossing over.




I thought we had got rid of the fixed 10-2 casting arc fallacy 20 years ago but it’s making a resurgence again on the Internet. I’ve seen it in a few places recently and while I rarely get involved in discussions outside of Sexyloops because I just don’t have the time or the inclination (apart from which I’m almost fucking 50 now and have decided not to piss every one off again until I’m at least 60!), I have noticed that a few Sexyloops contributors are fighting it, which is a good thing.


I’m sure that most SL readers will know that a fixed 10-2 casting arc is nonsense. I actually grew up with 10-12.30 teaching in the UK which is actually better, at least for accuracy casts, but still wrong.


It was Wild Bill Gammel and his father who first came up with the 5 Essentials. One of them being (or has since become) the Variable Casting Arc. It’s important to realise that the Straight Line Tip Path is partly controlled by the size of the Casting Arc. And that the size of the Casting Arc that we choose, is determined in part, by the amount of bend in the rod, which in turn is a result of both the amount of line being carried and the amount of force applied.


Here is an article from Bill on this concept: http://www.sexyloops.com/articles/adjustmentsonthefly.shtml


And here is a video on Bill’s 5 Essentials with some casting drills: https://www.sexyloops.com/flycast/the-five-essentials/


This is important to understand because with a short line and minimal force, your casting arc could very well be 11-12, or even 10-11 which would give a high trajectory backcast. Matching casting arc to rod bend affects tip path, but there is another adjustment too and that is trajectory, and we adjust trajectory both by rotating the casting arc ie 9-1 or 11-3 which is the same angle change as 10-2 and also by raising or lowering the hand and therefore rod tip.


Typically what happens with 10-2 is pickup with a short length of line giving an open loop. As the aerielised line is lengthened, the rod bends more and the loop becomes tighter. At some point, the theory goes, that 10-2 is the perfect match for a tight loop but if we still increase carry/force beyond this, then the bend is too much for the arc, the tip dips under the Straight Line Path, rises again at the stop, and the loop tails. However I’m not 100% convinced; I think 10-2 is a massive arc and it’s difficult to see the rod bending such that the tip travels below the SLP. Maybe...


Anyway the idea that you should start someone at 10-2 is a rather odd one. It’s far better to start someone with only a few metres of line outside the tip using a very small rod arc and build up from there. All of us learned to crawl before we could walk. If you start someone off by trying to go for a run then you’re definitely making life harder for both you and them.


Better to use the Triangle Method and a short line. You’ll save yourself a hell of a lot of bother and let’s face it short casts are also important in fishing!!!


Lee’s Triangle Method: https://www.sexyloops.com/flycast/the-triangle-method/


The full 170 or 180 casting arc does not fit the concept of matching rod arc to rod bend. Basically by this point we have moved into competition distance territory and we are powering through the point where one would normally “stop” the rod. However it’s because of significant line carry, and loop morphing, that we can do this. I for one would not be teaching this style to an Intermediate caster and would much prefer that they first learn an energy-efficient compact distance stroke with tight loops...


Fishing Distance Cast: https://www.sexyloops.com/flycast/fishing-distance-cast/


It will go 110-115’ with a 5WT with good technique and without drama. Where opening up with the 170 starts to come into its own is those 130’+ casts you see. Now there are advantages and fishing applications for this cast. But there is a staircase to climb to get there. Learn compact distance first, spend significant time mastering this, and then learn to open up. Otherwise you are going to miss out on ingraining a lot of important details, particularly casting tight loops with short lengths of aerielised line.


I see no value in teaching an intermediate caster the 170 arc before compact distance. Believe me I have tried! All it is achieves is to make life harder for the student to learn important details such as variable casting arc. And unfortunately if we are not careful, he or she will end up putting a ridiculously heavy line on the rod to substitute for his or her lack of ability to control the arc.


Just my thoughts!


For those who are interested in the Comp 170 style then there is a video here: https://www.sexyloops.com/flycast/competition-distance-cast/

But I wouldn’t recommend learning this until you’ve thrown some 5WT distance casts in the region of 120’ and you should at least be consistent at 110-115’ without a hero wind. You need first to learn how to get your backcast under control, particularly with shorter carry lengths and the compact distance stroke achieves this.


I see little to be gained in opening the backcast stroke until you are getting more than an 80’ carry (flyline held in the air to line hand excluding leader) certainly no less than 80’. That’s when the switch occurs. For me I go from compact to open around about an 86’ carry. If I go too soon my loop opens.


So my recommendation is that there is a ladder. Missing out on any rung will always be a problem. Get the variable casting arc sorted early on. For me it’s not first lesson, it’s second lesson, but that’s the way I teach. I will not teach Stopless/170 until someone has an excellent compact distance cast. This 10-2 stuff is nonsense and in the long term holds students back. 10-2 is a massive arc, it’s not a 70’ cast. It’s not even a 100’ cast. It’s a 120’ cast - who the hell starts anyone out by trying to cast 120’? Much better to take a compact stroke, with tight controlled loops and speed up the haul. There is your 100’ fishing cast.


We are back in a lockdown of sorts again in Malaysia. But some activities are still allowed and I think mine is one of them. Have a great week.


Cheers, Paul


POD - an afternoon Wet Season storm that’s just arrived!