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chrome-magnon man
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5,375 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
this picks up from a recent thread on the "techniques" board, but I thought I would add something from my own recent experience here on the Instructor's board in the hopes that it would help others with their casting and/or instructing.

During a recent casting session I was working with a new caster who was struggling with his initial lift while switch casting. The lift itself actually was good (the classic "shotgun lift" that Derek describes in his "Spey Masterclass" video--an excellent resource, BTW for both casters AND instructors) but the line just wouldn't come out of the water cleanly as the caster moved from the lift to the D loop formation. When he pulled back to form the loop his line stuck to the water. Not enough lift, right?--an easy analysis. But here's what was interesting--why wasn't there enough lift??? It took me a few minutes to nail it for him, and let me describe the process I went through:

I first asked him to lift higher, and he did, but only for a cast or two and then back to the same problem. Plus lifting higher made his top hand rise into an uncomfortably high position, which led to other problems later in the cast (falling D loop as the hands came back down to a more comfortable postion, or hands too high before coming forward for the delivery cast). So I started looking for the root problem and watched closely his hands on the lift. His top hand was very low on the upper handle--right up against the reel seat. So I asked him to move his top hand forward on the upper grip an inch, then two, then to the middle of the upper handle. Guess what happened? Each time he moved his hand forward his casting improved until finally his problem with the initial lift disappeared.

Try this yourself: grab a rod butt section and hold your upper hand right up against the reel seat, then do your typical initial lift and notice how high the tip of the butt section rises (use a wall or bookshelf as your reference). Next, execute the same lift, but do it with your hand farther forward on the top handle; better yet, after your first lift, keep the rod at its original stopping point and slide your top hand forward along the upper handle and see what happens to the butt tip. You'll notice that the butt tip is now higher along the wall than with your initial/previous lift. Multiply this difference along the length of a 15ft rod and you will see that a few inches on the butt section is a big difference by the time to get to the tip top.

Next time you find a caster having problems with the line getting stuck during the initial lift, have a look at his or her hand positioning--it may hold the key to correcting the problem!
 

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Pullin' Thread
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4,694 Posts
Dana,

I have found that if you utilize Hugh Faulkus admonition of putting the rod butt in your belly (waist) and then placing your top hand on the upper grip so that the rod is more or less horizontal without straining or moving the shoulder forward the new casters hand postition is both comfortable and high enough on the grip to ensure there is a good lift to the line. It is far easier to use Faulkus's method and get a good reference point and hand postition immediately than to do it as you did through trial and error.

Next time you have a student, simply have him/her hold the rod butt against his/her belly (waist) and place the top hand to the rod is horizontal. This prevents much frustration and gets the person started out with a good top hand postition.
 

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Coast2coast Flyfishaholic
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1,771 Posts
Excellent thread!

Flytyer, thanks for the Faulkus reference trick. I've also heard people say to hold the lower hand in the armpit of the other arm, grip comfortably with the top arm extended which works out to be about the same.

I've found that a remnant from my old karate days as a teen (can't even remember how to tie that belt knot anymore :p) works best for me. In Goju-Ryu, it's taught that your elbow should be one fist's distance from your rib cage for maximum arm strength in a middle block. Since the sweep motion before raising into a d-loop is very similar to a middle block (excluding wrist twist or lack thereof) I've found that to be a very comfortable starting point for me, which puts my upper thumb pretty close to where knowledgable rod builders think it should sit in the wells.

Also wanted to add an observation (as a student myself) that shorter lighter rods will beg for different hand positions and often an intermediate or better caster is best to follow that natural feel although probably not basic / learners. For instance I've noticed the new lighter and shorter rods like the 13' 7/8 Custom or 5120-4 Sage or T&T 1307, etc - sometimes feel better and more natural with the top hand brought down the handle for higher efficiency casting.

I like to start each practice day (any day it stops snowing :mad: ) by finding the minimal effort balance of line length, anchor technique, and forward stroke where the least anchor effort produces the most forward power using the least waste possible. Dana and I were chatting and he helped me realize that unlike overhand casting, the ratio of effort between the backcast (d-loop) and forward cast in spey is not equal, it's significantly less if the cast is done efficiently. I guessed 20% to 80% or even 10% to 90% on a switch cast.

I try to get to the "single index finger and thumb" on both upper and lower hands each time out, and often the feedback in my shoulders and arms tells me to move up or down a little, raise the arms a little more or less, etc. Each rod and line has different "total harmony" and once it's really clear that I've come close to it I then progress into the various casts I had on my schedule to practice that morning.

It's taught me to care much less about distance and much more about efficiency, which I am thinking is the more important of the two lately.
 
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