Fly Casting: Analyzing Straight Line Rod Tip Path and Shoulder-Elbow-Wrist Paths during the Stroke

here’s a more than interesting set of video-still overlay images of some of the World’s top distance casters created by Dirk le Roux who graciously accepted  to share his findings here. this is a real treat for anyone interested in fly casting mechanics. as mentioned below, this was a study on the final ‘up’ lift of the wrist common to many casters but it tells us a lot more than that.

“Watching video on distance casters I’ve been intrigued that often a seemingly small down-up flick of the wrist could be seen right around final rotation on the forward cast. Sometimes more like just an “up”. Thing is it’s hard to get a handle on what’s happening just by watching, even in slow motion. Trying to analyse that I started tracing the arm configuration and spline path of the wrist, and while I was at it also the elbow and shoulder paths, at various intervals of various casts.

A bit of explanation first
• The red and blue hopperleg graphs are back and forward positions respectively
• The spline* paths are generally: lower one the elbow, middle one shoulder and top one the wrist trace, except in Paul’s case.. 
• You can see which part of the spline paths are back or forward by checking which of the blue or red hopper-legs they correlate with
• I included wrist angles also (show rotation timing)
• All the figures containing interrupted line hopper-legs have been taken at exactly regular intervals, with the interrupted positions in between the regular solid line ones. From this some idea of speed at certain stages can be gleaned”

*  (spline curve ) a continuous curve constructed so as to pass through a given set of points and have a certain number of continuous derivatives.

Lasse Karlsson
Lasse Karlsson
Lasse Karlsson
Lasse Karlsson
Steve Rajeff
Steve Rajeff

rajeff 2

Paul Arden
Paul Arden
Paul Arden - Wrist Path
Paul Arden – Wrist Path
Bart De Zwaan
Bart De Zwaan
Bart De Zwaan
Bart De Zwaan
Fredrik Hedman
Fredrik Hedman
Stefan Siikavaara
Stefan Siikavaara

and maybe what it’s mostly telling us is no two people cast the same despite what we might think…
thanks Dirk !

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37 thoughts on “Fly Casting: Analyzing Straight Line Rod Tip Path and Shoulder-Elbow-Wrist Paths during the Stroke

  1. Marc this is very interesting article and thanks for sharing 🙂 .
    From my side I’m curious about acceleration ( when the acceleration stars and the evolution of it).
    From my point of view, I think that a part of the path is only from preparing the launch and put the acceleration in the cast. I think that is very interesting how every caster apply the acceleration and the evolution of the acceleration.


    • hi Lucian ! yeah, this is too good not to share here and i’m so glad that Dirk was more than happy to do just that. (he’s an avid Cobra reader 😎 )
      since i know very well that you know very well what acceleration means :lol:, could you be a bit more precise with “when the acceleration stars and the evolution of it” and “preparing the launch” please ?

  2. Jim Green believed the hand path for the forward cast was a dolphin shape (not the flipper like dolphin, but the kind we eat on the grill). This path leads to a natural pull back which blends into loop budding. I think he was a smart man….

    • hey Mac !
      ok, and that’s quite ‘advanced’ (for lack of a better term) but that sounds too generalist at this point in time. it kinda reminds me of a lot of other terms used in casting lingo that are well, bunk 😆
      how you keepin’ ?

  3. Good Marc,
    What he did was used film shot from the side to see hand path. So many various subtleties from different folks.
    The real magic is what Lucian brought up … poor casters do not understand how to bend the cork when casting distance. Hard to cast far tip casting….lol
    Thus it all goes back to acceleration.
    Hope you doing good. We will do some Skype here soon.

  4. Oh Marc,
    That is hard for me because I’m not good at English :(. But in the end everything is physics. You have to take in consideration acceleration, speed, mass and energy conservation law. And of course don’t forget the friction law.
    In my opinion everything is simple because is not anything else than law of mechanics in physics.

    • i know that but it’s no problem, Lucian ! your comments are always a pleasure to read. (same for me, imagine how it’s like when i have to speak and write in french and i’m also french and i really dislike speaking and writing in french ffs… 😆 )

      yes, of course. the actual physics always remain the same. what i find interesting however is how we all interpret and apply them a little differently 😎
      (a good example of this is the horrifying ‘Technical Analysis’ forum on SL… :mrgreen:

  5. Ok, I will try :D. In MHO in casting is about how, when and how much time you’ll apply the force so that you can obtain a long delivery of the fly. Everything else is nothing that a preparation: movement of the body, movement of the arms positioning of the rod, etc.
    All this stuff depends a lot of our bio mechanics because every caster is unique.So one person can have a different style compared with other and they can obtain, in the end, the same result. It is good to observe a performer to understand his movements. But to copying him is not a guarantee for me that I will have a real improvement of my casting. I think that understanding the principles and applying them correctly as much as possible in accordance with your personal bio mechanics will give you much more better results.
    So if the arc of the cast is wide can gives you the possibility to have a good acceleration for a long period of time. In theory you’ll obtain a higher speed of the line. But if your muscles are not well trained ( or you have more white fibers than red fibers- for example) you’ll have a bad variation of acceleration in that time interval. And just before the stop you’ll have a poor transfer of the energy from the tip of the rod to the line -> bad casting. Some people are making different movements to reduce the errors. I notice that a lot of casters use to think that those movements are the Graal of the perfect distance cast. They spend too much time to analyse these movement . They should remain focused on the personal bio mechanics and stay concentrate on applying the law of physics in the right manner.
    So to make a conclusion: the physic laws are simple but if you mix them with our biology ( bones, muscles and tendons) and our brain of course, the results will vary 😀

    • i couldn’t agree more Lucian. thanks for taking the time 😎
      yup, force over distance primes. i always wonder how Rajeff would do if he managed to put as much force as he does but into a longer stroke.
      (i know, his stroke isn’t as short as a lot of people believe but it’s still shorter than most in the distance game)

      • because Rajeff have a great variation of acceleration. In this way he obtain a higher energy.
        He have a fantastic muscle explosion. He is similar with 100m running performers :). Most of us we perform ok for 2km but we are not good for 100m… We don’t have this great acceleration like Steve have.

        A long running athlete have a slim and skinny profile
        A speed running athlete have a muscle body profile.

        Usually the normal people have more white fibers in the muscles then red fibers. White fibers are for long time effort and red fibers are for intense effort for a short period of time.
        Steve have these native qualities : short explosion with powerful acceleration. These qualities combined with lot of practice gives him such great results 🙂

  6. Excuse me but white fibers are for rapid, intense effort but short time. Biceps for example are usually white.
    Red (color from blod) are for long period efforts… for example calf.
    This forum Is fantastic and it is very important that people give the right informations!!!
    If you use biceps or triceps you can cast very HARD but for a short period of time.

  7. i’m colour blind so i’ll let you guys work out this white/yellow stuff on your own… 😆

    thanks for the kind words Mao.

  8. Hi Marc, I fish For pike using big bulky fly ,no heavy but 15 -18 cm long.
    Some people suggest casting horizontal moving back and foward. Personally I feel that this style creates pain of my shoulder even if someone suggest this technique to prevent injuries!
    What do your suggest?
    Best Regards

    • hi Dario ! first of all, if it hurts its definitely the wrong way to do it regardless whoever says what…

      now, that ‘someone’ was probably refering to Krusty Kreh’s method who does indeed recommend casting to the side of the body but he also recommends twisting/swinging the torso backwards for the BC and then forwards for the FC.
      what happens when we do this is, the swinging torso does most of the work throughout the cast and not just the arms.

      whether we cast vertically or off to the side, when casting big pike flies we mostly want to be casting in two planes to avoid fly “kick” and smooth out the whole cast (and stay safe from the big nasty hooks !!! 😆 ). Elliptic, Austrian, ‘Belgian’ and TLT styles of casting all work on the same principle. the BC is performed to the side and the FC closer to verticle.

      i hope this helps !

      ps- i still haven’t recieved any answers regarding your left/right eye stuff. lets wait a little more.

      • Thank you Marc.
        I am referring to the Lefty Kreh style.
        On the other side, when I cast with left hand I cast father loop unroll better but after a certain time I feel pain in the back.
        I think that this could be related to the fact that casting from left side I rotate the bodly in the opposite of my natural rotation of the spine. I am right hand and feet dominant with left eye dominant.
        Best regards

  9. unless there’s been damage or other problems there is no natural lateral movement of the back/torso area. it should move equally left and right.
    now, assuming you don’t have spinal restrictions what might be happening is your not inverting your foot positions ?

    • If I face the target I do not have these problems (with the foot line perpendicular to the target). So my shoulder pain could be related to some back problem.
      Thank you

        • Marc,
          Thank you very much for your advice.
          I will inform you if with a more open stance the things will go better.
          Best regards

            • Ho Marc, yesterday I have tried to mimic the fly cast action in front of a mirror and I discovered that my shoulder and back pain is probably due to an excess of torsion when I cast with an open stance using the lateral. My action is similar to the golfer that I believe is not healty for my back. I will try to put the right foot in front in order to avoid spine rotation similar to that used on under hand cast by Henick Mortersen. When he cast far he uses am open stance (right foot behind) but without rotation of the spine.

  10. hi ! sounds like you’re finding what’s good for you and what isn’t, great.
    something else you might want to try is the square stance: both feet at same level facing the target. basically, its like one normally stands in everyday life.
    this is an interesting option and its something we don’t need to think about too much as we do it all the time and its also ‘ambidextrous’ 😉
    should you need to use more ‘body’ during the cast with this stance you can slightly bend the knees and body twist will happen from the knees instead of the hips.
    you can try this as well in front of the mirror to see if it helps.
    bye !

    • Thank you Marc.
      I Will try the square stance that is more natural.
      I think that my shoulder and back problems started when I used the right foot behind like many salt water fly fisher 😊

      • Hi Marc, I have realized that I cast for long time with my rucksack on my shoulder and that have helped to create shoulder inflammation. . What do you think. The pain is behind the shoulder, the scapula.

  11. i think, that i’m not a doctor… 😆 but it makes perfect sense, specially if the bag is heavy and/or has poorly constructed straps. exterior constriction or traction on any joint, tendon or muscle is generally a bad thing.
    this makes me think of the popular sling packs so many anglers are buying these days that will soon end up in the trash when they notice what having all the weight of the bag on one shoulder does…
    hope you’re well and having fun casting,

        • Hi Marc. I have realized that I need to cast with my helbow inside of my hand in order to avoid pain. I am casting big flies with side cast maintaining the elbow inside of my hand for all the cast and that preserv me from shoulder pain. Moreover I also avoid to load my shoulder with packages.
          Best regards

          • wow ! it’s no wonder you where in pain ! 😆 that’s not a very natural way to move the arm.
            glad you found the solution, keep up the good work !

  12. Ho Marc, I Would like to foĺlow a fly distance course
    I am not able to overcame 25 m
    Please do you know someone?

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