Non-stop progress

Non-stop progress

Paul Arden | Tuesday, 15 August 2023

This might be a little bit controversial for some, but I’m just going to lay it out there for the others. For those who want to experiment with it as coaches then great. I’m know quite a few of you already teach the “stopless” stroke. The Stopless stroke for me, means not trying to “match casting arc to rod bend to control tip path”, but instead accelerating the rod so that it is either finishes pointing at target or is even further rotated.

There are benefits to this. One is that we are “accelerating” through our normal loop formation “finishing line”, consequently line speed is higher. Trajectories are solved by picking targets that are 180 degrees apart.

In the past I would only have introduced the stopless cast to already high-level casters, throwing 110-115’. 20 odd years ago this is what I was teaching for 5WT distance having learned it from Rick Hartman. And those were the only casters I introduced it to for the next 15 years or so. All high level stuff.

And then the Zoom coaching came along. I’ll do about 600 lessons this year but not to 600 students (which would do my head in!) but to about 50 (not including rod sales sessions - I give a free lesson/meet/cast with every HT sold, but this tends to be the same lesson more or less).

Consequently with my Zoom coaching classes, over 6-9 months with the same student, I get to teach a great deal; all the bases – distance, accuracy, Speys, presentations – but also Closed Stance Accuracy, Open Stance Distance, & the 170, as well as hard stop, pull-back, & stopless (fly and line landing together/ fly first/ & line landing rod tip to fly). You can do a lot in 9 months! You can take a beginner to what I call a high-intermediate level caster, or an intermediate to an advanced level caster.

There is probably about 100 hours of practise in there, so as you can imagine, good changes always happen.

Let’s talk about stopless. The 170 including variants, which is basically two stopless delivery casts, cast back-to-back, is the primary competition technique used nowadays for 5WT distance. Those of us who have learned it, will recognise the benefits of stopless forward or stopless back as a delivery cast, particularly into the wind, or when a fast shot is required, or just casting really ugly flies/tackle combinations, to land straight and without risking the rod tip. Eg casting leaded dumbbell double bunnies on sink tip lines; tracking is straight and the rod tip is safe because it ends up touching the water during loop formation, and it’s incredibly difficult to throw a leaded bunny into a rod tip that’s touching the water!

So I’ve been teaching it to Saltwater guys in particular. Not the full blown 170, but instead stopless back & forward used for wind-penetrating delivery shots.

Something I noticed here early on, is that teaching stopless can eliminate a “tendency to tail” in their standard stroke. Tendency to tail is often a very difficult problem to fix, and can take many months; the more you try, the worse it can get. Making small changes to an existing stroke is always hard. But with stopless it a) smooths power application, and b) gives a feeling of more time. Tendency to tail can be a mix of both of these things, ie starting the forward cast at or just prior to Loop Straight and with an acceleration of the rod slightly too early or too strong. Teaching stopless at this point, and we might be talking a 70’ caster, perhaps 70-90”, can solve this… almost immediately.

And that’s about when I would normally have introduced it.

However over the last months I have discovered another use for it. Students who have a decently high backcast but are trying to make everything happen within a small forward stroke, and struggling to be smooth and consistent. Here I will get the targets out and teach the stopless rod tip down delivery. And then I’ll say “now do exactly the same stroke but stop the rod 1/3rd the way through”. Bingo. Pulling stroke, smooth application of force. That’s a hell of a lot better and faster than trying to make small force adjustments in an existing stroke.

The way I see it, is the more alternatives we can offer for force application, which after all, is what the fly casting stroke is all about, then the more exploration of movement that can take place. I’m forever using one stroke to develop another: switch cast to develop delayed rod turnover, accuracy to develop tracking in open stance, 170 to develop smoothness and so on.



OK… I’m in town on a supplies trip for next week. Guiding a guest for the best part of a week. Five - yes five! - Zoom lessons tomorrow and then I head to KL for some truck accessories fitting (bull bar, winch, snorkel, roll bar and roller to keep luggage dry), some metabolic testing to know how efficient my body is at using fat for fuel, a swim lesson and then to pick up my guest.

Cleaning the Battleship took two days, and not five minutes, despite meticulous planning.  I’m pretty fkin busy, but not as busy as Lee is at the moment who is building HT rods!!

Have an awesome stopless week!

Cheers, Paul