Fly Casting- The Pull Through

here’s part two of yesterday’s Some thoughts on Instruction and Descriptions from Mel Krieger about the often brought up Pushing vs Pulling which basically consists of:

– when Pulling we’re translating the rod throughout the majority of the stroke and rotating it at the end: Late Rotation
as Mell notes below, an easy way to see this is if the rod tip is behind the hand throughout translation.
Pulling requires a greater (and more efficient) involvement of the arm. the shoulder muscles do most of the work and the elbow leads the hand and either goes up and down (overhead casts) or out and in (non-overhead casts).

– when Pushing we’re starting the rotation much earlier and counter to above, the rod tip will be in line or in front of the hand throughout most of the stroke: Early Rotation
Pushing doesn’t require as much whole-arm work. not all casts require a lot of arm movement but on the other hand,  arm-lazyness is a really good way to mess up and make lovely tailing loops. an added unwanted bonus to these screw ups is that Pushing/Early Rotation may/can/might promote creeping.

breaking down the basics of the movements involved to these simple definitions means that this is easily observable regardless of casting style: overhead, side casting, casting in different planes or with a single or double-handed rod.

now, what’s the point and why the vs as if they where at battle ?

well, Pushing isn’t a crime in itself but it leaves us with more limitations if that’s the only way we know how to cast, specially when we’re aiming to cast in tight places, create tight loops, trying to cast farther than usual or maybe into the wind.
what Pushing/Early Rotation generally does is give us bigger loops but that’s not a sin either because bigger loops (i mean nice purposefully formed and controlled loops, not ugly, fat out-of-control blob-loops) are often a common sense safety necessity when casting heavier/bigger flies or when fishing teams of several flies or simply on the front cast when there’s wind from behind. (the bigger loop gets pushed by the wind and line, leader and fly(s) land nice and neat, the wind does a big part of the ‘work’)
just to show that pushing isn’t all evil, it’s probably the best trick of all for good, consistent casting at accuracy target rings. most if not all the better accuracy competition casters do this. these comps aren’t about delicate presentation as the line is slapped down to the target and rotating throughout the stroke also enables a better judgement when hovering (judging the distance to the ring) but wait ! doesn’t this sound like terrestrial imitation ‘plopping’ or when casting streamers to the banks from a drift boat ?

i believe that by now we’ll agree that Pulling Through the stroke is what we want to learn and have as default style and change over to Pushing when the need arises. (i really like Mel’s term ‘Pulling Through’ as it leaves an immediate understanding of the action. thanks Mel !)
i hope you’ll benefit from my ramblings and Mel’s wisdom. enjoy !

” And now to one of the most elemental and important aspects of a fly casting stroke, often overlooked by experienced caster and even many instructors. It is a pull through motion – the casting hand preceding the rod tip through most of the casting stroke – the turnover and stop taking place only at the conclusion of the casting stroke. A push through movement in the casting stroke has the rod even or ahead of the casting hand through much of the casting stroke – somewhat akin to a punching motion. While it is possible to cast fairly well with this push through motion, especially with the stiff powerful fly rods that are currently popular, the pull through casting stroke is superior.

Some analogies might be useful to more fully understand this concept. Imagine a brick on the end of the line. A hard push through motion will very likely break the rod, while a pulling motion could easily move the heavy weight. Imagine a three foot length of rope pulled through to smack a waist high board. Pulling the rope through could almost break the board while pushing the rope through would be futile.
A bio-mechanical company working with Olympic athletes and professional baseball teams concluded that the closest athletic event to a distance fly cast would be a javelin throw. Try this: Lay out 70 or so feet of fly line on a lawn behind you, fly rod pointing to the fly, and throw a javelin, turning the rod over only at the very end of the throw. You may be pleasantly surprised with this extreme pull through casting motion. Now try the same cast with a push through casting stroke, noting the significant reduction in speed and the very likely resulting tailing loop.
Shorter casts are more subtle, utilizing a fairly short pulling motion at the beginning of the cast. Many instructors teach a pulling down with the caster’s elbow or hand during the casting stroke, resulting in an excellent pull through movement. Longer casts however, require pulling on a more horizontal plane; the longest casts very close the same plane as the projected forward cast.

Start all fly casting strokes with this pulling motion – a short pull with short casting strokes and a long pull with long strokes. Combine this pulling motion with a good rod bend and you’re almost assured of an efficient cast. “

Good luck!
Mel Krieger

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