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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LOco WriSt !!!

are you one of those limp-wristed, flip-flopping, out of control, hand-flailing, line all over the place fly casters ?
if so, give this a try next time you go out for a practice session. of course you won’t be able to fish this way but the idea is to get the ‘feeling’ of what having a firm wrist/forearm connection can do and how it almost always makes a decent caster a much-much better one.

having good control of the wrist is just like magic. all of a sudden the flyline starts going back and forth in their intended directions, flies start avoiding trees and grass and remain attached to the leader, waterside friends stop giggling and it all usually involves catching a few more fish and a lot less frustration and sweat. all good, huh ?

let’s see how it works. if we don’t control our wrist and allow it to pivot excessively we start casting in big great dome-shaped convex arcs in the same manner that windshield wipers move. since the line is supposed to do what the rod tip does, the whole line goes back and forth mimicking the dome-shaped course the rod tip took. these big open loops or ‘non-loops’ leave the line to the mercy of wind, take up a lot more space than necessary, the line tip and leader often land in an uncontrolled pile and any kind of accuracy is severely compromised. and it’s ugly.

the reel against the forearm method above is as noted, just a way to get a better feel of how we should try to cast, at least in the learning or relearning stage. turn the handle around and gently press the bottom of the reel against your arm and start casting as normal using the whole arm and all it’s joints instead of just the wrist and watch the loops tighten up. wow, they’re even SEXY !!! (of sorts…) but what this mostly shows us is that you’re in control of the rod and line.
there are gimmicks and gizmos on the market in the form of straps that attach to the rod butt preventing it from going away from the forearm which do about the same thing but most of the time people just revert to flip-flopping as soon as the strap comes off and i guess they must feel a little sore for having just spent 29.99 for nothing… whereas this method costs nothing and doesn’t allow the wrist to bend and that’s where this shines.

ok, so we’ve felt the ‘feel’ but what next ?  well, after casting like this for a while and once we’ve turned the reel back to it’s normal downward position, one of the tricks is to pretend that the hand and forearm are a solid unit just as if we were wearing a plaster-cast, recreating what we’ve learned by inverting the reel. whether we want to or not the wrist is going to move a little anyway and that’s good, mission accomplished.
the real remedy is a ‘mental thing’. for this to work we need to be constantly ‘telling’ our arm/body what to do instead of letting it do as it wishes or rather, what it’s been used to doing before.
it involves getting rid of old automatic reactions and replacing them with new ones (some call this muscle memory) and this all takes a little time (regular practice), work and perseverance but it’s well worth it.
later on, when this new skill is acquired and flip-flopping is no longer an issue we can start to use the wrist constructively in a controlled manner: that’s fine tuning an acquired skill.
another undeniably good and very important aspect of this ‘blocked wrist’ method is that it forces us to learn to move our elbows and shoulder more than before to achieve a proper cast.
simple logic tells us that for a  certain motion it will be better to have the stronger and bigger muscles and joints do most of the force work and let the weaker/smaller yet more mobile and faster joints refine the movement. the strong to weaker order is shoulder – elbow – wrist – fingers.

keep in mind that all of us at every level need to work on just one thing at a time and wrist control really needs to be under check to move on.

if you’re having wrist issues, please give this a try and let me know if it helps, ok ?