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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, so I have been spey casting for about 4 years now. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with tendinitis last October in my dominant arm. I am not ambidextrous at all so casting with my opposite arm is not an option. I went to physical therapy for a few months and I have made some progress. However, I do get pain in my dominant elbow from time to time. I loved fishing with my Echo Glass Spey rod but I have noticed that the extra weight and slower action seems to stress my elbow more. I have discovered that if I use the lightest setup possible (Rio Scandi Body and not a full skagit) with the lightest sink tips (not necessarily IPS) that I can get away with, then I can keep the pain away. Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice? Thanks in advance.
 

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The thing about needing to be ambidextrous is actually a myth! Anyone CAN learn to do things with the opposite hand, and many people find when they get past the initial hump they actually Spey cast in some ways BETTER on the off hand - they haven’t learned and reinforced bad habits they learned on the original side especially the excess power in their dominant hand.

There may be a difference between how hard it will be to learn from person to person, but the main difference is the willingness and deliberateness you take in learning to cast the other way. It’s all muscle memory and if you understand that NOTHING you developed on you dominant side transfers to the other, and that you are literally starting from scratch, it will be possible if you are methodical about the process of learning. It will feel weird as hell at first, but within a day you will be making passible casts and after a while it will feel natural, if different. Eventually it will feel just as pleasurable. But it is not something most people just do - but have to set out to deliberately work on doing, and in the process relearning all the motions. The so-called “handedness” people have is nothing more that learning to do things one way, and then refusing to learn to to it another way because you can already do it the old way. It’s hard or impossible to remember how it felt the first time you learn the muscle memory on your dominant side - but it felt the same as it now feels on your non-dominant side.

So if it really gets painful know that there IS that solution. But most people will need to take the time to methodically train the correct actions. If you conscientiously set out to do it and are patient with yourself it WILL work. There are a number of past threads on this topic that include advice and tricks people used that helped them learn to do this.

On your original side you might focus learning a more more euro-style “underhand” cast. There are whole books and many YouTube videos on this style. You can practice with a belt wrapped around your upper arm to remind yourself not to move your elbow and to keep you upper hand still. Many people with issues such as yours, including the founder of this website, have reported focusing on the hard-core underhand style of casting has helped them get through it, but I’m guessing it will depend on the individual physical issues.
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your input. I am just really bad with balance and coordination but it sounds like it could be my last resort.

The thing about needing to be ambidextrous is actually a myth! Anyone CAN learn to do things with the opposite hand, and many people find when they get past the initial hump they actually Spey cast in some ways BETTER on the off hand - they haven’t learned and reinforced bad habits they learned on the original side especially the excess power in their dominant hand.

There may be a difference between how hard it will be to learn from person to person, but the main difference is the willingness and deliberateness you take in learning to cast the other way. It’s all muscle memory and if you understand that NOTHING you developed on you dominant side transfers to the other, and that you are literally starting from scratch, it will be possibleif you are methodical about the process of learning. It will feel weird as hell at first, but within a day you will be making possible casts and after a while it will feel natural, if different. But it is not something most people just do - but have to set out to deliberately work on doing, and in the process relearning all the motions. The so-called “handedness” people have is nothing more that learning to do things one way, and then refusing to learn to to it another way because you can already do it the old way.

So if it really gets painful known there IS that solution. But most people will need to take the time to methodically train the correct actions. If you conscientiously set out to do it and are patient with yourself it WILL work.
 

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Have you considered getting the cortisone shot? Maybe not applicable in your case but I know I lost all power and strength from elbow to fingers and went numb from years of recoil slinging a nail gun at or above chest height and tried everything. Last resort doc jabbed deep in elbow and was almost instant relief. That was a few years back and no problems since, knock on wood.
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow, I didn't know the cortisone shot lasted that long. I believe it is an option if it gets really bad. I believe my tendinitis was caused from my heavy weight lifting during my younger years. I was 36 when they diagnosed me with tendinitis so I believe they wanted to wait on the cortisone shot if I could heal through physical therapy. I am probably 85% healed so far.

Have you considered getting the cortisone shot? Maybe not applicable in your case but I know I lost all power and strength from elbow to fingers and went numb from years of recoil slinging a nail gun at or above chest height and tried everything. Last resort doc jabbed deep in elbow and was almost instant relief. That was a few years back and no problems since, knock on wood.
 

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Thank you for your input. I am just really bad with balance and coordination but it sounds like it could be my last resort.
Read the last paragraph I added above as another suggtion.

Technically the cortisone doesn’t “last” that long, but it might have eliminated the self sustaining inflammation that was causing the issue. Probably the crucial words to the doctor are “this issue is keeping me from doing something I really want to do”.
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, this is an excellent suggestion and I have actually been practicing this style with the scandi-Ish line and versileaders/replacement tips. As long as I can get deep enough in the water column, then I am all for this style! I don't think I can throw as heavy of gear using the underhand style but I am fine with that if it helps.

Read the last paragraph I added above as another suggtion.
 

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Read the last paragraph I added above as another suggtion.

Technically the cortisone doesn’t “last” that long, but it might have eliminated the self sustaining inflammation that was causing the issue. Probably the crucial words to the doctor are “this issue is keeping me from doing something I really want to do”.

I was extremely resistant to the idea for a long time and exhausted all other possible avenues before giving in.
I was actually worried about exactly that and was told it might not even work on the first go round and also that it may be required again after a fairly short period of time but all I know for certain is it worked for me and a second one hasn't been required yet, approx. 5 yrs. down the line.
 

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18 foot spey rod DV8
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The thing about needing to be ambidextrous is actually a myth! Anyone CAN learn to do things with the opposite hand, and many people find when they get past the initial hump they actually Spey cast in some ways BETTER on the off hand - they haven’t learned and reinforced bad habits they learned on the original side especially the excess power in their dominant hand.

There may be a difference between how hard it will be to learn from person to person, but the main difference is the willingness and deliberateness you take in learning to cast the other way. It’s all muscle memory and if you understand that NOTHING you developed on you dominant side transfers to the other, and that you are literally starting from scratch, it will be possible if you are methodical about the process of learning. It will feel weird as hell at first, but within a day you will be making passible casts and after a while it will feel natural, if different. Eventually it will feel just as pleasurable. But it is not something most people just do - but have to set out to deliberately work on doing, and in the process relearning all the motions. The so-called “handedness” people have is nothing more that learning to do things one way, and then refusing to learn to to it another way because you can already do it the old way. It’s hard or impossible to remember how it felt the first time you learn the muscle memory on your dominant side - but it felt the same as it now feels on your non-dominant side.

So if it really gets painful known there IS that solution. But most people will need to take the time to methodically train the correct actions. If you conscientiously set out to do it and are patient with yourself it WILL work. There are a number of past threads on this topic that include advice and tricks people used that helped them learn to do this.

On your original side you might focus learning a more more euro-style “underhand” cast. There are whole books and many YouTube videos on this style. You can practice with a belt wrapped around your upper arm to remind yourself not to move your elbow and to keep you upper hand still. Many people with issues such as yours, including the founder of this website, have reported focusing on the hard-core underhand style of castign has helped them get through it, but I’m guessing it will depend on the individual physical issues.
I second the advice to try Scandi underhand casting to relieve the stress of traditional spey casting. I have guided and coached spey casting over the years and dealt with many older anglers and those with disabilities. This easy going style enabled them to continue spey casting and enjoy a full day of fishing. I am certain you will enjoy this less physical style of casting.
Regards from the Restigouche....Jim
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for your response. Underhand casting seems to be the best course of action moving forward. Hopefully someone can shed some light on this subject but how do you cast heavier flies/sink tips underhand casting? I am trying to understand this aspect of the style. Thank you in advance!
 

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I was extremely resistant to the idea for a long time and exhausted all other possible avenues before giving in.
I was actually worried about exactly that and was told it might not even work on the first go round and also that it may be required again after a fairly short period of time but all I know for certain is it worked for me and a second one hasn't been required yet, approx. 5 yrs. down the line.
Yes, I’d say you were super lucky there. Take the luck whenever you can get it!
 

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I've had two surgeries on my dominant side shoulder as a result of 40 years trying to push a rod - awful idea. I've had serious tennis elbow - from casting not tennis. Yep, I'm a slow learner. Finally I figured the only way I could continue fishing was to try two hand rods. Took a couple lessons/classes and couldn't figure it out. Then I saw a guy at GGACC who made it look so easy. Amazing. That was twenty years ago. Since that time (thanks to a lot of help from many generous folks) I've learned bottom hand casting with both hands. I now fish with two handers almost exclusively (trout spey, 7wt switch rod for bones at Christmas, 15'-10wt for kings, etc.) Here's the best advice I can give you. Learn to cast with the bottom hand. Stop extending your top hand and elbow. Sure other styles work. Think Spey-O-Rama or Simon's style. But I think the most user/body friendly way is bottom hand - it certainly is for me. How much bottom hand? I'm casting probably 80-95% bottom hand. I want to hear the rod butt smack my wading belt buckle on every cast. I passed the FFI THCI using bottom hand. It works with skagit, scandi and long belly. Again, I was really, really fortunate to have great mentors and casting partners. You have to understand what you're trying to do, and you have to learn good technique. And then practice. With the non-dominant hand you have to commit. Probably took me a two years to get really comfortable casting with either hand up. PM me if you want some names. Hope this helps.
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This sounds like exacly what I need to learn. I can PM you specific questions but I am curious if you know of any videos that highlight the underhand casting while using a skagit line. I have mainly seen this with a scandi line.
 

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Thank you for your response. Underhand casting seems to be the best course of action moving forward. Hopefully someone can shed some light on this subject but how do you cast heavier flies/sink tips underhand casting? I am trying to understand this aspect of the style. Thank you in advance!
I think something you can consider is looking at your style. On the one hand tippy, faster rods - the kind that are usually favored with traditional underhand style and scandi heads have a lower moment of inertia (aka “swing weight”). So they may feel relatively lighter in hand. But that situation will tend to cause you to speed things up. Depending on your injury, and what gets it going, this could help or hurt with a heavier line. The other extreme is that for skagit heads and heavy tips a more soulful, deeper flexing rod will require less work, especially with an underhand cast, even though those rods will have a larger swing weight. It is usually more than made up in a soulful rod by the slowness and SMOOTHNESS of the stroke and letting the rod do the work. People who love these kinds of rods, including myself, are big fans of how little work they require and how relaxed they feel. I think you would have to try the other extreme and see - I can imagine cases where it is the total weight in hand that hurts the most, and other cases (probably more) where it is the faster, more twitchy action of those tippy rods that causes the problem.

To find out for yourself I would highly recommend trying a very soulful rod like a Meiser MKS (or MKX which is super light) or their cousins the TFO Deer Creek rods with a heavier setup. Maybe one of the old Echo Dec Hogan rods if you can find one. Those kinds of rods force you to go slow, work especially well if you pay special attention to a using a lot of underhand, and may smooth out the stresses a lot. To do a test run to check this hypothesis you could even get Bob Meiser to send you a test MKS to try out.

What rod have you been using up to now and what is it like? If it is very different you might have to get use to a slower rod at first, but once you do you might be able to tell if it helps. Wouldn’t it be great if you could write off a new MKX as a medical expense? :p
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you for your feedback. I used to own a TFO Deer Creek Switch rod. Right now my Echo Glass Spey 12'4" #6 and maybe my Echo E3 Spey 13' #7 would fit that quiver. The glass spey is great but I think stopping the deflection of the rod is putting strain on my elbow. My faster rod would be a G-Loomis IMX Pro Short Spey #5 & #6. The Loomis is definitely lighter and more responsive. I am currently using the Loomis with a Rio Scandi Body and lighter tips.
 

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I had a R/H shoulder acromioplasty and have ongoing tennis elbow / tendon issues stemming from a fall off a 12 foot wall in an infantry skills competition in the Sinai in 88 and lots of arthritis in my neck from too many hours flying with night vision goggles on an 8.5 pound helmet in the 90's. I fish the same glass rods with a 360 rage or scandi on the 6 weight and a 420 scandi on the 7 weight. Its so much easier on the body and more fun to slow down and fish glass. At least it is to me Personally I dont usually fish a scagit in the summer and a 50-75 gr sinking poly leader will get a #2 hook down into the busy part of the water column at least here. Keep it in tight and use the bottom hand for the power.
 

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Pvillarr
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you for the info. I will try a lighter line on the rod to see if that helps with the #6 glass spey. I am hopeful.

On another note, I tried the underhand casting technique while fishing today. I kept crossing my line while using the imx short Spey #6 11’11” rod paired with a 400 grain Rio scandi body (23’) + a #7 Rio replacement 15’ type 6 tip. However, when I switched heads to an Airflo skagit scout 390 (16.5’) with the same tip, I was able to achieve underhand casting successfully with some great distance and little effort. I am guessing the head-tip length/weight of 31.5’ is easier to cast than the 38’ with the scandi body + tip for the specific rod. Or maybe my tip is too heavy for the scandi body. I am still testing everything out but I appreciate all the advice and feedback.
 
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