Spey Pages banner
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

2,095 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a very interesting article. The doctor appears to be on the right medical trail re injuries that the bigger rods and the techniques used to shoot heavy lines/heads/flies are causing fly casters.

The two handed rods offer us the ability to by pass both past and future injuries when used properly. However, I predict that the CroMag approach to two handed rod casting will cause problems for those two handed CroMag casters. These are the guys who could care less about balancing a rod, reel and line for comfort/ease casting. They use their muscles and body strength to overcome these imbalances. With many that will set up the same types of injuries being seen with the larger one handed rods.

I will be out for most of today and the weekend. So I'm not being rude if you respond and I don't respond until Monday.


Casting doctor

By DARYL GADBOW of the Missoulian

UM's head athletic team physician has started a clinic dedicated to studying fly-fishing technique and injuries.

Ever notice how little sympathy you get if you happen to mention that your arm is sore from so much fly-fishing.

Now, at last, there's someone who feels your pain.

Or, at least, he knows how much it hurts.

Dr. Tim McCue, the head athletic team physician at the University of Montana, has started the nation's first Fly Casting Institute, a weeklong clinic designed to analyze a fly-fisher's casting technique and prescribe specific methods to prevent future injury and alleviate existing pain associated with casting a fly rod.

And, according to McCue, there's a surprising amount of pain to go around among participants of an activity generally described in terms such as contemplative, relaxing, gentle, graceful, as much an art form as a sport.

In a survey McCue distributed to 577 certified fly-casting instructors across the country, he found that of the 292 who responded, virtually all reported experiencing some level of pain or discomfort. Half of those said they had shoulder pain; 39 percent complained of elbow pain, and 36 percent suffered pain in the wrist. Federation of Fly Fishers certified casting instructors were chosen for the survey because they spend at least half the year casting. From the results, McCue estimates that up to 73 percent of America's 13 million fly-fishers may be enduring painful side effects of their pursuit.

In many cases, says McCue, proper form will solve those problems.

"Casting technique and body mechanics are as important to a fly-caster as endurance and weight training are to a professional athlete," he says. "Our ultimate goal is to correct flaws in fly-casting technique that either currently cause pain or that could potentially create pain symptoms in the future."

His first institute program will be held June 26 to July 2 at Hubbard's Yellowstone Lodge, an upscale fly-fishing destination in the Paradise Valley. While there, at a cost of $3,000 each, a maximum of 20 enrolled guests will have the personal attention of four world-class fly-casting instructors, in addition to McCue and other medical experts, who will analyze their casting style.

Included in the program is a physical exam by McCue to identify possible physical dysfunction. Besides individual counseling by the casting professionals, participants' casting motion will be videotaped for detailed step-by-step evaluation.

Guests at the institute will have the benefit of another technological advance in fly-casting instruction - a "casting analyzer," an electronic device fitted to a fly-rod, which uses a miniature gyro and hand-held computer to measure "the angular speed of the fly rod." This gizmo, developed by Noel Perkins of Ann Arbor, Mich., will help McCue find out "which muscles are firing" and isolate specific technical or physical casting maladies.

Every day, each institute participant will spend an hour with McCue in a "fly-casting lab" going over the results of this high-tech evaluation.

In addition, the guests will have an opportunity to practice their skills on waters such as the Yellowstone River, a private 85-acre spring-fed lake, and Livingston's famous spring creeks.

The institute's lead instructor is Jason Borger, a professional fly-fisherman, whose articles have been widely published, and author of the book, "Jason Borger's Nature of Fly Casting - A Modular Approach."

Borger has also produced numerous fly-fishing videos and was featured as the "shadow caster" in the movie "A River Runs Through It."

The institute, says McCue, is for fly-casters of all ability levels and "we welcome anglers experiencing pain and those who are pain-free. Everybody can improve their casting."

McCue, a Billings native who was hired as UM's head athletic team physician last August, has a long background in fly-fishing. He worked as a fishing guide at Hubbard's Yellowstone Lodge for two years after completing his undergraduate degree at UM.

But it was after earning his medical degree at the University of Washington, while serving residencies in Wisconsin and Belize, that he became intrigued by fly-fishing-related injuries.

"It started a couple of years ago when I was doing a residency in Wisconsin," he says. "What a lot of people don't realize is that Wisconsin has some great steelhead runs out of the Great Lakes. I fished for steelhead for a couple of days and my elbow was killing me. I said 'What did I do? What did I do?' Then it occurred to me that I hadn't ever cast an eight-weight rod for a couple of days in a row."

His first glimmer of the problem came during his medical school days in Seattle, when he fished heavy rods for salmon and steelhead in coastal streams, and again experienced discomfort from casting.

And while he was in Belize, he saw more evidence of fly-fishing injuries among anglers hoisting "big-gun" saltwater rods for permit, bonefish and tarpon.

"So I did a literature search on fly-fishing injuries and there was nothing in the literature. I met Borger about that time and I realized I had to do a research fellowship and research paper. So I worked with Borger on my survey. That's how we initiated our collaboration. And we found people who had problems with their shoulders and elbows and wrists."

His research paper, "Upper Extremity Pain Seen with Fly-Casting Technique: A Survey of Fly-Casting Instructors," the first medical study of its kind, will be published this spring in the Journal of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine."

There are many recognized styles of casting. One method might not be best suited for everyone or every fishing situation, according to McCue.

"When I was guide," he says, "I taught people to cast my way. Who knows if that's the right way? Some people swear by Lefty Kreh's method. But that method might be really bad mechanically" for some casters.

Among the results of the survey, McCue found the following symptoms related to casting:

- Overhead casting was associated with less frequent wrist and elbow pain than sidearm or elliptical - a combination of sidearm and overhead - techniques.

- Elbow pain occurs less often in people who use multiple casting styles to fit a particular situation.

- Casters who use double- or single-haul technique to achieve greater casting distance had more pain than others.

- Those who use weighted shooting-head lines, sinking flies or added weight to the line to sink flies, also had more pain.

- Anglers who fish heavy saltwater rods suffered the most severe pain.

Such a broad spectrum of injuries and causes, McCue says, calls for a variety of possible solutions.

"We're developing ways to avoid problems and rehabilitate injuries," he says. "People who have elbow instability shouldn't theoretically use a sidearm cast. We've got four of the best fly-casters in the world to show people how to do things differently to get the job done and spare vulnerable joints."

A variety of rehabilitation exercises also might be prescribed to cure a caster's ills, he adds. There are exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff, the grip, the elbow, and to improve range of motion.

"I'm sports-medicine-trained," says McCue. "I might as well make use of it."

While this summer's first Fly Casting Institute will be general in its approach, McCue says that future clinics will be designed for specific fishing situations - from brook trout fishing in Maine to tarpon fishing in Belize.

When he was in Belize, McCue says, he met an angler who blew out the rotator cuff in his right shoulder the first day of fishing for permit. He switched to casting left-handed the second day and tore his left rotator cuff.

"The next two days," says McCue, "he sat in the boat and watched his wife fish. The goal of the institute is to keep people on the water as long as possible. A perfect candidate would be that guy from Wyoming who kept blowing out his rotator cuff."

Reporter Daryl Gadbow can be reached at 523-5264 or at [email protected]

If you're interested

For more information about the Fly Casting Institute, call Dr. Tim McCue in Missoula at 543-2807, or Hubbard's Yellowstone Lodge at (406) 848-7755, or visit the Web sites of Jason Borger, www.jasonborger.com, or Hubbard's, www.hubbardsyellowstonelodge.com

Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
1,771 Posts
Interesting from a statistical view, wish I had his job :devil:

But... I find that the categorizations only skim the surface and there are more insightful perspectives to casting and durability (joint health) by looking into it a little deeper.

For instance, the categorizations imply that saltwater anglers using weighted or grainy lines with haul techniques suffer more pain... yet I would argue that experienced saltwater anglers use grainy lines to their advantage and use minimal effort to cast much further than the average freshwater flicker caster. Perhaps this is simply because there are fewer experienced saltwater fly casters in the ranks studied, tourists for the most part in Belize I would think.

A few things I would offer:

- Keep the upper arm relaxed and the elbow bent, pointing to the ground and kept below the shoulder. Guys who cast with extended arms and the elbow high are headed for rotator repairs.

- Choose rods that flex deeply but defiantly, and un-flex with vigor upon stopping the stroke. Rods that are stiff require more arm push and do less work. I don't know why stiff rods are so popular in SWFF, I hate them.

- Don't try to use the trout casting approaches on an 8wt or better, the bigger rods require more attention to the direction and alignment of the power stroke than the little stream whippers do. Thinking one is just a bigger version of the other is a mistake, bigger rods are more like directing momentum than flicking the line around.

- Don't fight the conditions, adapt and use them to help you. If the wind is crossing the body, cast off the opposite side. If you have a tail wind, release the forward cast with a high stop and let it loft to the target.

When going over 10wt, use two hands. 600 grains feels like childsplay on a properly designed two-hander in coastal conditions, and can reach well over 100 ft with a single backcast (no false casts, no hauling).

Adapt, conquer, enjoy!

Pullin' Thread
4,694 Posts

I think we ought to start our own $4,000.00 per person spey casting clinic to teach folks how to avoid hurting themselves from spey casting. Of course we need to have a doc involved so we can get insurance reimbursement. The slightly higher fee is needed because 2-hand rods costs more, are more difficult to cast, weigh more, and hell the instructors need the money. We should have 20 students per week long class and they should be held on the Grand Ronde, the Thompson, the Skagit, the Rogue, the Morice, Deschutes, and on one of the Forks area rivers. Guaranteed to improve student technique and fatten the bank accounts of the instructors. Hell, we could have the first one at Howard Miller Steelhead Park this April.

And don't forget that we need to market it to all those "tourist " steelhead and salmon fishers. Maybe we should also consider having seperate classes for rods 14 ft and under and rods 15 ft and longer. Then we need to allow for line weight and belly lengths differences. My mind is reeling with the possibilities on how we can help our fellow spey casters and fatten our wallet (er, I mean be properly reimbursed for out time) in the process.
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.