new style - new injury

new style - new injury

Tracy&James | Thursday, 21 February 2019

After my resounding thrashing at the last casting event held in Cumbria I decided it was time for a change to my competition casting style. Not just a tweak here and there this time, but a ground-up rebuild of my entire cast. This process started at the weekend – and it did not go well!

If you’re anything like me you’ll have loads of old fly lines knocking about, ones that you’ve retired because they’ve started to crack-up just behind the rear taper. Actually, if you’re like me these are likely to have the coating stripped to the core before the decision is made to ‘retire’ them. Anyway, these wrecked lines are perfect for making shooting-heads out of, and if you haven’t already done this I’d encourage you to chop off the damaged portion and replace it with mono backing.

Pretty much any time I want to change something with my casting stroke I start off with a shooting head.  In my mind there are a number of advantages to doing so; firstly (and perhaps most importantly) it prevents me from wrecking another good line (this can be expensive when you consider the MED) whilst making the inevitable mistakes that come with trying something new.  Secondly, it fixes the carry to a pre-determined length so I don’t have to question how much line I’m aerialising, which to me is vital to gauge how things are going.  For example, my ‘starter’ #5 weight shooting head is equivalent to a 65 foot carry (head + overhang + distance to line hand), my next one up is equivalent to an 80 foot carry – beyond this I typically (but not always) switch back to a full line.   The third advantage is the haul feedback, obviously this is good even if the preceding stoke wasn’t perfect.

I began at the weekend with the ‘starter head’ and a rod that is softer than my normal competition one.  Things actually started off pretty well.  To be honest the main changes are nothing that I don’t already play about with when practising, for example when I get a bit bored I’ll sometimes have a shoot-out between open-stance me and closed-stance me.  (Actually, open stance-me and closed-stance me have very different characters and there’s a fair bit of sledging that goes on between the casts – I’m not sure if this is normal?).  Moving the ‘starter head’ around is pretty easy and my tracking and loop speed both appeared ok, so I was reasonably content when I finished the session due to the appearance of a blister.  This didn’t really concern me as I’d also changed my grip so I reasoned that this was perhaps to be expected.  In hindsight I should have taken this as a warning of either overdoing it, over-gripping or both.

Filled with enthusiasm I went out to practice again the next day, this time with my finger taped up (the one next to the little finger, middle joint).  This time I took the 80 foot equivalent carry head with the same, softer, rod that I’d used previously.  As before, this went pretty well; the tracking was a little more difficult but the wind was very swirly to the point where it was impossible to determine whether there were any real issues.  My line speed was acceptable, maybe better on the backcast than on the forward and my loop shapes were generally good, although I did think my forward delivery needed work on the trajectory.  

My problems came after I got home however.  At some point I moved my arm and had the feeling of hot skewers being rammed through my elbow.  I’ve never suffered from tennis elbow before but have read up on it occasionally as it tends to get mentioned in casting discussions now and again.  Obviously Dr. Internet was my first port of call which tends to suggest the prognosis is medial epicondylitis otherwise known as golfer’s/pitcher’s elbow.  So ice packs and Voltarol is where I’m at for the next few weeks.  The level of pain was a real eye-opener for me (although this has already calmed down considerably), to the point where I couldn’t envisage being able to cast a fly rod at all with it.  As such I really need to make sure I’m fully recovered before our Bahamas trip this year where I’ll be expecting to cast every day for over a month.  In the meantime it’s back to the fly tying.