What impacts swing weight? - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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What impacts swing weight?

Hi all, this is my first actual forum post, so here goes nothing. I'm hoping to get some feedback on what exactly influences how heavy a rod *feels* when casting. I've heard about swing weight in the past when talking about single handers, but I never really noticed much practical impact when on the water. I get the impression it makes a much bigger difference in the 2 handed game.

I started two hand casting this past spring on a 13'6" 8wt Redington Dually. Took a lesson and I feel my casting technique is coming along quite nicely, all things considered.

But it quickly starts to feel like I'm waving a house around. It feels big and clunky even when I'm casting well.

But before I run out and throw a bunch of money at a lighter/more expensive stick, I'm curious how much swing weight is also influenced by things like rod length, flex profile, materials used, and line weight; or is it just a matter of looking for the fewest total ounces?

If details help, I believe the rod weighs about 8.9oz. I'm throwing a 600gn Rio Skagit Flight (26.5ft head) and 10' of t-11 or t-14.

Thanks in advance for the insight!
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 03:49 AM
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I spend the majority of my summer and fall fishing a bamboo two hander. I guarantee it's heavier than your rig. I'm 61 and will happily fish this rod for a week at a time without fatigue or discomfort. I know guys who love the light, seemingly weightless rods, but if you're casting well, not reaching out and over extending yourself, the swing weight should not be that big a factor.

The line extending, or bombing casts, is not the only measure of a well cast rod.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 04:27 AM
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What is usually referred to as “swing weight”, or sometimes more cryptically, at least to me, as “weight in hand” is nothing other that the moment of inertia about the pivot point the rod rotates. The moment of inertia is made up of each bit of mass of the rod times the distance of that mass from the pivot point squared, all added up. So “light in hand” or “low swing weight” mean that all things being equal more of the mass of the rod is closer to the butt and the pivot point. It is the moment of inertia that you feel as “swing weight”.

Here is the problem (personal pet peeve incoming /rant on) the distribution of the material and therefore weight in a rod is related to the action of the rod and the two go together. All things being equal fast, tip-flexing rods - the kind that are heavily favored, fad-like, in single hand rods for at least the past decade or so, will naturally have the weight shifted towards the butt and have lighter “swing weights” than a rod made out of the same materials and with the same total weight that is designed to flex more towards the middle. Tip flex rods will have thiner lighter tips and mid flex rod will have fatter, heavier tips everything else being equal.

Lighter materials will of course make things have a lighter swing weight, but the total weight and the action are the two independent things. If you have an opinion about which action you like, and many people do, then short of buying a rod made out of lighter materials you do not have any choice about swing weight. Unfortunately people sometimes talk, idiotically in my admittedly peevish view, about action and swing weight as if they were two independent things. This has lead to some ridiculous things seemingly designed to drive a physicist crazy, and especially THIS physicist who happens to also like deeper flexing rods. Exhibit A is that the annual Yellowstone Anglers rod reviews have two categories they have created that get scored by the fast-action-loving experts each year - action and weight in hand. Actually they have total weight as a third category. So they score all the fastest rods high and then turn around and pat themselves on the back with an added high score because all the faster rods are “miraculously” lighter in hand. *facepalm*.

/rant off

I think low swing weight, and hence just low total weight is very important for single hand rods since you torque the rod mostly with your relatively weak wrist muscles. So look for the lightest rod you can afford that has the action you like. I think low total weight, and hence swing weight is a very nice thing for two-handed rods, and especially because some of them are very long and heavy. But the significance of the total weight is a good bit less because much larger muscles groups are used. So if you have an opinion of the action you like, same as with single hand rods, choose the lightest total weight you can afford that has the action you prefer.

In both cases you can (and should in my view) completely ignore the concept of “swing weight” as an independent “feature” of a rod entirely.

As a side note, leaving heavy bamboo rods aside for the moment, at Speyorama one year I once got a chance to heft one of of James Reid’s old ironwood spey rods - what burley men in what I always imagine were kilts once spey cast when they had time off from tossing cabers. Holy crap was that thing heavy and slow! But you could still tell it could be cast two handed - no problem. The bigger muscles and longer lever arm you use when casting two-handed make a huge difference.

To answer the gist of the last part of your post directly, you can not only develop the muscles you use to spey cast, but you will just get more efficient as your skill increases. In no time you will actually nearly stop noticing the length and weight of that 13+ footer. So I would NOT go out and spend money on a lighter 8wt any time soon - at least wait until you know more about what you like. And yes, it is normal the first time you start using a longer rod to really feel it, this should pass pretty quickly. People who use 16’ rods and even longer eventually report that they actually feel casting them is as easy or easier than shorter rods because they have gotten very efficient, and the longer rod means they can in some sense expend less energy making the same length casts.

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Last edited by Botsari; 10-18-2019 at 05:45 AM.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 03:48 PM
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While I enjoy reading a detailed explanation of this issue quite honestly I've never ever considered it. I have over the years moved to lighter rods and lines and that makes casting more enjoyable over the long haul. How old are you?

These are the rods I use most with reel and line weights included.

> 1983 Orvis Light Salmon 9'6" with 4" bottom grip, mini Spey with Hardy Ultralite Disc #7/8 reel and Rio 8 weight Salmon steelhead line.
> Hardy Swift MK II 11'6" seven weight with Taupo reel and a 475 grain Scandi line.
> Sage One 13'6" 8 weight with Sage Domain reel and 600 grain Super Scandi line.
> Sage X 14' #8 rod with Sage Spectrum ax 7/8 reel and 550 Super Scandi line.

The Super Scandi's are a Steve Godshall line at 45' head with integrated runner. All four of those rods can be fished all day without any noticeable weight issues. I don't think that it is rare for a person to become involved in fly casting with any type rod single or 2 hand and then begin to over think things. This does not mean that I deny existence of things like swing weight just that I've never thought that hard about it.

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowens40 View Post
13'6" 8wt Redington Dually.
IMO the Dually rods do not have a heavy swing weight, and if anything, their tips could use a little more power (to suit my tastes). Keep at it, hook some fish. You'll get used to it, and may even learn to let that modest amount of tip weight and power work in your favor.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 06:04 PM
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I don’t know that rod very well - I think I cast one once down one run - but I can remember nothing. But is a 600 a bit heavy for that 8 wt? I don’t know if that would lead to fatigue but it might contribute to the feeling of extra effort.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-18-2019, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the feedback!!

SLSS - Yes, I expect that my technique is a big part of what is tiring me out and making the rod/cast feel heavy. I guess I felt that since the line seemed to be shooting ok I must be doing it right, but I do constantly catch myself extending my top arm and likely half dozen other things that make my motion inefficient. I'll certainly try and focus on that more. Maybe a follow up lesson would be a good idea at this point in time, now that I've put in a dozen or so days. It would probably help identify bad habits before they become too ingrained.

Botsari - Thank you for the very detailed response! And rant away! It's cathartic Yes, that was one of my expectations: that the different flex profiles were, in part, created by distributing the mass over the length of the rod differently, which would impact the perceived 'weight' the further away that mass is from the fulcrum. I see what you mean about swing weight and action being very closely connected.

In terms of my preferred action, I also had a chance to cast a 6126 Chromer, and I found it a delight to cast. Light in hand, but also through the casting stroke. It seems (from the description) to be a 'faster' rod than the Dually (which, if I understand you correctly, likely indicates the mass being further toward the butt of the rod, and therefore a lighter 'swing weight'). I didn't think it was necessarily a fair comparison to draw many conclusions from, since it is Redington's higher end rod (I assume that means better/lighter materials), 2 line weights lighter, and a foot shorter; all of which, along with the faster action, would play a role.

Hardyreels - I'm 37 years young. Not nearly old enough to blame this on my age while keeping a straight face. The line weight is something I want to play around with. I'm going to borrow a 550gn head so I can see if that makes a noticeable difference with this rod and with my casting style (if I can call it that this early on).

SSpey - I think my best bet right now is to take your advice and just put in more time on the water

So thank you all again! I look forward to putting in the time to get more efficient/comfortable. There are few more beautiful classrooms in the world!
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-19-2019, 10:25 AM
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I often cast a 15 6" Meiser trout spey rod. Yes, it is more tiring than casting one of my shorter rods.

I do not see how it wouldn't be, but maybe I am wrong.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-19-2019, 11:16 AM
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Maybe I am misunderstanding your question but a properly balanced reel should be strongly considered to get a desirable swing weight. In my experience, the overall feeling of the weight can be greatly impacted by using a balanced reel. I fish year round with a 15’ rod. It feels very light in hand to me, and I can fish it all day, because it is perfectly balanced. The entire set up is literally balanced one or two fingers while fishing. I’m sure it probably looks like I’m lazy on the river, but that is the whole point. I am fishing affectively but it’s easy on the body.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-19-2019, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Read1t48 View Post
Maybe I am misunderstanding your question but a properly balanced reel should be strongly considered to get a desirable swing weight. In my experience, the overall feeling of the weight can be greatly impacted by using a balanced reel. I fish year round with a 15’ rod. It feels very light in hand to me, and I can fish it all day, because it is perfectly balanced. The entire set up is literally balanced one or two fingers while fishing. I’m sure it probably looks like I’m lazy on the river, but that is the whole point. I am fishing affectively but it’s easy on the body.


The feel yes. The “swing weight” no. The swing weight will be increased by adding any reel, but if you manage to make the net center of mass locate to the point where your upper hand (pivot point) is located when casting as a result it MIGHT contrite to the feeling of balance - tastes may vary. Many people will only care about balance when actually swinging, but when you cast your upper hand will feel as small jolt one way or the other if the pivot point is not also the center of mass. I think there is even some evidence that some people like this effect - people who like very heavy reels on their rods, for example, may LIKE the small translational force forward they feel when casting. Pure speculation on my part, however, and at any rate this “feel thing” would mostly be appreaciated unconsciously. It would be a smallish effect if the pivot and cm were only off by inches.

But I’m with you on your other point. I’m sure if I watched you cast your 15’ rod I would even SEE you weren’t expending a ton of energy, and when you compare the effort for similar RESULTS I think there is even an argument it is more efficient with a longer rod. Of course you didn’t arrive at that point overnight I would assume.
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Last edited by Botsari; 10-19-2019 at 12:35 PM.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-19-2019, 12:41 PM
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First off, more time on the water will help in figuring things out. Quit "throwing the rod at the fish" (too much upper arm) Now, if I'm getting the jist of this "swing weight" meaning the weight felt during the cast, as opposed to the weight felt holding the rod for the duration of the swing? And being set up for Skagit casting, would it be safe to assume sustained anchor (water born) casts?

So here we go, my humble opinion (often a wee bit more opinionated ) along with the disclaimer, I am totally clueless of the characteristics of your rod. That being said, a 600gr Skagit Flight head coupled to 10ft of T-10 does not seem out of line for a 13'-6" 8wt rod. T-14 would depend on the tip diameter of that Skagit Flight head. (.080 minimum for good turn over)

Until you get used to it, it will feel heavy lifting a sunk tip to the surface, no matter what rod reel you are using. After the lift & the setting of the anchor, the cast begins with the sweep. If and this is a big if, done properly (& that alone is subjective) the sweep need not be physically assertive, as long as you maintain constant tension on the line! When everything is lined up & you pull the trigger, do it with the bottom hand. You need not hold a death grip on the rod for any of the SA casts. Only momentarily, on the hard stop do you need to tighten up on the grip. Like anything else, it's all in the timing.

Like said there is a difference in the feel of a tip action rod & those flexing deeper into the blank. There is also the weight & position of the reel, reel seat up or down locking & the length of the corks. These are just the laws of physics, mostly involving E=MV² & lever arms. Velocity squared having more effect than mass, rod weight is of little concern here. The lever arms being rod length (subject to change with deflection) and hand position from the reel.

Personally, I like heavy reels, up locking reel seats & full flexing rods with adequate length corks. And I line them with enough grains to load all the way down into the corks. YMMV
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 10-24-2019, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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Randyflycaster - Yes, I suppose I didn't think enough about the fact that I really don't have much frame of reference to compare

Read1t48 - Yes, like Botsari said, I'm thinking more the feel of the casting rather than the balance on the swing. I've got an Orvis Battenkill Disc Spey V that balances it decently. I aspire to cast well enough that it looks effortless! One day maybe

JDJones - I will definitely work on not throwing it. May also be a good time for another lesson, after a dozen or so days in now. Probably good to catch any early bad habits before they're too ingrained. Also good to hear that the head/tip combo sounds about right for an 8136. My local shop also said they'd loan me a couple other old Flight heads above and below that grain weight so I can see if that makes a significant difference. Mighty neighbourly, if you ask me!

Thanks all!
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 06:38 PM
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Thanks Botsari and JD Jones for the “engineering” details on spey swing weight.

Moment of Inertia & the Acceleration of Mass made me look up the principle of the Trebuchet version of the catapult, if that is applicable. In any case, being a X-engineer, your past explanations and discussions on this website regarding the Spey casting of mass rings true.
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-13-2019, 07:02 PM
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Head to the mouth of the Mamquam this Saturday from 10 am - 4 pm.
Two casters from Bridge Flylines will be there with the Bridge lines to cast.
Not sure if Tim Arsenault will be there

If Tim is there give him your rod and line and let him cast it.
He’ll tell you if your rig is good.

When I did this Tim cast all 150 of my Carron line out.
Gave me back my rig and told me it worked fine

The caster (me) was the problem.
I took lessons from Tim and have been practicing since.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-14-2019, 12:03 AM
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Thanks Botsari and JD Jones for the “engineering” details on spey swing weight.

Moment of Inertia & the Acceleration of Mass made me look up the principle of the Trebuchet version of the catapult, if that is applicable. In any case, being a X-engineer, your past explanations and discussions on this website regarding the Spey casting of mass rings true.
Interestingly enough, there have been several people over the years that have referred to the action of the Meiser MKS rods, a cult favorite on here, as being like a trebuchet. Possibly some of these were just referring to the the power - in the right hands - of the casts. But those rods have quite stiff tips and flex lower down - almost (but not really) like a “hinge”. So I suppose this could be like the sling part of the trebuchet with the lower part of the rod being he catapult arm. :hihi

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