Bendy vs Stiffy – a study of fly rod action and casting mechanics

“My experience is that for a given line length (and weight) the caster uses almost the same stroke regardless of the action of the rod. Different rods certainly “feel different” but there is little or no “adjustment to or matching of  the stroke” going on.”
Grunde Løvoll

how many times have we heard or read that we need to change the casting stroke depending on a rod’s action ?
the typical explanation given is, for a slower rod we’ll use a slower stroke and a faster stroke with a faster rod.
well, this happens to be incorrect and is a classic example so common in the fly casting world where ‘what we think we do and what actually happens’ don’t meet up.

as we’ll see below, Lasse Karlsson has taped two very different rods together to cast them at the same time with two identical lines of the same weight rating. simultaneous loop formation, loop shape and loop speed are very-very similar with both rods.
if it weren’t for the excessive counter-flex/rebound (and it’s resultant waves of the rod leg of the fly line) produced from the slower rod’s heavier tip  it would be extremely difficult to determine which line was cast from which rod.
there is no adjustment of the casting stroke to achieve these equal results.


for the tech geeks, here’s the equipment info from the video-

“Two rods cast at the same time, same line on both, and same line length.
Bendy rod: Berkley Grayphite 8 feet 5/6
Stiff rod: Sage TCX 690
Line: Rio tournament Gold 5 weight
To make up for the difference in length, the rods where taped together so the tips where aligned.
The berkley rod is 75% glassfiber and 25% graphite, has an IP of 97 grams and a AA of 65 (so really according to CCS it’s fast ;-)) and a MOI of 76
The sage is full graphite, has an IP of 167 grams, an AA of 74 and a MOI of 70

Several things to learn about tackle here.”

and one of them is that a lot of ‘experts’, many rod designers and people in the tackle industry just blindly repeat what they’ve heard without giving it any thought and don’t seem to try these things out on their own, specially when they’re so simple to observe.
thank goodness for people like Lasse, Aitor, Grunde, and a host of others who don’t live in a box.

EDIT: someone asked what would happen if there was more line out of the rod tip and Lasse shared a variant of the first test, this time extending line whilst double-hauling.
the quick answer is: nothing different than if it had been done with only one rod/line. the casting stroke widens, the pause lengthens and every other aspect of a basic cast remains the same.
see for yourself.

related articles

What Trout Want

– The Educated Trout and Other Myths  by Bob Wyatt

there’s so much self-important  blah-blahing in contemporary fly fishing literature that new books of real interest are far and few between.
coming out somewhere around the 2013 new year, Bob Wyatt’s new book promises to set things straight by debunking popularized wishful thinking and insecurities… and  getting back to the subject of fish and fishing instead of the angler’s ego.
author of the highly respected Trout Hunting: The Pursuit of Happiness, this new one seems even more promising.

not from the up and coming book but i like his way of thinking and very much look forward to reading and studying this new book.

After decades of thinking about trout as cunning and fussy critters with eating disorders, my fly tying programme finally got traction with the ‘trigger’ concept. Behavioural science terms like ‘behavioural releaser’, ‘supernormal stimulus’, ‘optimal foraging strategy’ and ‘fixed action pattern’ entered my angling vocabulary. Everything just sort of came together and for the first time in my angling life started to make sense.

Where we get to with this behavioural business is the rather revolutionary idea that trout are, in fact, not cunning and fussy at all. But they are efficient. The simplest, and therefore probably the correct, explanation for why emergers usually work better than dry dun patterns is simply that trout quickly key onto the prey that is most abundant, most visible, and easiest to catch. “
-extract from Bob’s ‘The Hang of it’ via Carl McNeil’s Bumcasts

distributed by Stackpole/Headwater Books, pre-orders for the international market are already available through Amazon