What species do fish for with your bamboo rods?




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I know there are several FFF certified instructors on our list, and I will dare to ask a dumb question.

If you were stringing up a rod to leave in the garage for daily practice, what length and line weight would you recommend? Would you choose your favorite fishing length, or would you use a bigger rod for practice? Would you practice more with a medium action rod or a fast one? How come some guys can cast every rod well, and some have a certain sweet spot (rod action) that works best for them?  John Long gave a wonderful presentation on bamboo rods and casting errors at Canadian Cane, and I would like to establish more of a routine to help improve my casting. I did not get to ask him these questions as I did not ponder it until the long drive home.  (Bob Maulucci)

    Cast them all! Cast every day.  (Timothy Troester)

    I would suggest a heavier line for practice. For a cane rod, a 7-8 weight in the 8- 8 1/2 foot range is about right. It is very important to to be able to feel the line load the rod, and that's a lot easier with the heavier lines. A more moderate action rod is a better learning tool for the same reason. If you want to adapt to a variety of rods, the trick is to be able to adjust the speed of your wrist motion to the speed of the rod. That comes with handling and casting a lot of rods. A good caster is almost always a conscious caster, someone who understands the principles of casting and applies them, rather than someone who just mindlessly casts the same way all the time. Don't be shy about taking casting courses and seminars.  They are a huge help. Anyone you consider to be a good caster has been coached by someone, I guarantee.  (Tom Smithwick)


I just got in the house from a little "Lawn Casting."  An interesting exercise.  75 to 80 feet of fly line out on several distance casts!  Now I'm no expert caster, so it had to be the rod.   A 7 1/2’ 5wt, based on a Montague Battenkill.

Over the last few months I've come to two conclusions.

First: Don't overlook double tapered lines for distance.  Several bamboo rods I've cast seem to like them better than WF in the same wt.  It must be something to do with the mass of the whole outfit. 

Second:  I (and I'd bet most casters) normally use entirely to much power in their casts. Over the last month I've been trying to use as little power as necessary to make the cast and seem to have added about 5 to 7 ft to my distance.    The answer is obvious, I was overpowering the rod, to much force to soon.  I was on the back side of the effective power curve going down!

Other benefits include: being able to fish with less effort, making it enjoyable and conserving my strength and better line control.

If you haven't tried casting a bamboo rod using the very least power you can, try it. Like me, you may be surprised!  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    Nicely put Terry

    “casting a bamboo rod using the very least power you can”

    It is definitely the way to go! it is amazing to watch someone who has only used graphite cast bamboo for the first time. they all, without exception, overpower their cast - too much acceleration throughout. it is as amazing to see the look on their face when, at your suggestion, they slow it down, and get more distance, with a lot less effort. That is one of the true pleasures of bamboo.  (Steve Dugmore)

      There is a famous Dutch author on fishing, Jan Schrijner, who claims that on many occasions heavier rod are better casting rods because of their weight. He claims that very light rods don't have enough weight to load the rod properly and that the lack of weight must be compensated by a faster movement, thus being more tiring. With cane rods, we do have this heavier rod, which gives us a rod that can cast with its own weight. I personally think this is an advantage, especially in shorter rods and also in paras, using that little bit of more weight in the tip  section to load the rod to its limit.

      Anyone ever thought about this? And... in view of this, what's the use of making lighter rods by hollow building??  (Geert Poorteman)

        Converse to the heavy and slow I think there is a strong case for a super quick and light rod (hollow.

        I think it really is a matter of individual preference.

        ....and I think light rods can load just as well as heavy if correctly matched to the line weight. the one significant difference for me between light and heavy line weights is that I find it much easier to cast curve casts etc. with a 4 wt plus line than with lighter lines.  (Stephen Dugmore)

        I agree with Steve.  If the line is matched to the rod then, by definition, there is enough weight to load it properly.  The difference in feel will be that it takes less casting force to load the lighter rod/line combination assuming the tapers are similar.  (Al Baldauski)

        Several years ago Terry K. gave me a good explanation using the e=mc2 equation.  Maybe Terry has that explanation lying around somewhere.  (Harry Boyd)

          I don't know much about Einstein, but I do know that, in every casting situation, a bamboo rod must be as lightweight as possible for each particular line-size.

          A rod must never be expected to "load" because of its own weight, although that's an unavoidable factor. Much more critical than the rod's weight itself is the distribution of that weight in relation to the line-size the rod's meant to carry. By "distribution," we're talking about the taper design -- that is, putting the mass (strength) where it will do the most good, while keeping it to an absolute minimum overall.

          How a rod casts is a function of distributing strength only where we want it, with all excess weight considered as a negative byproduct. Our target is one of distributing strength where we want it in the taper. But strength is a function of mass, and mass is weight. And weight is the enemy. So it's not a rod's overall weight that tells us anything -- it's how that weight is put to use in a particular taper, and whether an equally strong rod might have been designed with better thought to reducing weight. If that can be done, the rod will be far more responsive and more pleasant to cast.

          When a bamboo rod loads properly, it's because of the weight of the line that's extended at one end, combined with the strength of the casting stroke imparted at its other end. And the less the weight of the rod itself factors into that equation, the better will be the rod. If the taper has been well-designed for its intended line,  in every case, the rod that achieves the greatest strength for the least amount of weight will be the best casting rod.

          Hollow-building (if done properly) reduces the weight of the rod without compromising its ability to load as intended -- all good.   (Bill Harms)

            Well said. I would extend that to the "type" of rod (intended fishing  target) also. Steelhead may require a different rod than the same  line weight intended for trout. Which should also be optimized.

            As to the weight itself. When dealt with in the Harms's manner, I  believe the weight itself is a blessing. It is what separates us from  graphite.. Because of the material, bamboo, we get a natural feel  that is different (intangible) , but the benefit of weight, within  reason, is a feedback system that lets  us feel that difference, mass.  The inertia of this mass gives us a little more feel?  (Jerry Foster)

            I agree that a bamboo rod should be designed to be as light as possible and the speed of the rod should be designed to fit the particular casting style. I think the "feel" of bamboo is due to the inherent weight it must have because it doesn't have the Modulus of Elasticity of graphite.  To get it stiff enough that it doesn't feel like spaghetti you have to use a greater weight of material.  This leads to greater inertia and an overall slower stroke than with graphite.  But graphite can be made to feel more like bamboo.  The trouble is with today's astronomical MOEs in graphite the wall thickness would be so thin to get a "slower feel" similar to bamboo that it would be very fragile.  They're fragile enough as it is.  Graphite designers make fast rods so that there is enough wall thickness in the lower 2/3 to be durable (this makes it very stiff)  and all the flex is in the upper 1/3 or 1/4.  The total deflection in a graphite rod is less, leading to less of an "opportunity" to feel it load.  Of course designers don't want it to feel like bamboo because they wouldn't have anything NEW to sell.

            I believe the properties of bamboo allow you to design a rod for any application and still have it feel good.  The only disadvantage to bamboo is you can never build a rod as light as its  equivalent  in  graphite,  but who'd want to!!!??

            Probably the area where graphite has an advantage over bamboo is in the long rods.  That's where you really notice the weight difference.  (Al Baldauski)

              Thanks Al for putting  in real terms what we all really knew about plastic rods but couldn't quite put a handle on.  (Bill Fink)

                Global Dorber here in Flippin AR. makes a graphite rod that casts and feels like a bamboo rod. It is made from "Ultra Weave" Graphite cloth. I have the first 4 wt blank they made. It does cast like bamboo and is ultra light in weight.

                Just for information.

                I do test cast some of their rods.  (Tony Spezio)

              Yes, for long rods graphite is a blessing. But I think fly fishermen have no idea what is meant with a long rod in the low countries, Belgium, Holland, France, where we usually use what the Brits call a roach pole. A roach pole is a long rod without guides, meant to manipulate a float. We have them up to 13 meters... And there graphite reigns supreme!!  (Geert Poorteman)

        I believe that a "slow" rod is what fits the short line situation you describe.  Whether up close or at a distance, when a slow rod is lined "properly", the line is along for the ride and the mass of the rod itself is the overriding factor.  In this case changes in line length are not so noticeable.  Even a fast bamboo rod suffers when you shorten the line for up close fishing.  (Al Baldauski)

    I got curious after reading some of the posts, so I dug out some of my old graphite rods.

    I didn't get any 80 ft casts out of either of the 5 wts but I did get some 75’ casts.  One rod was an 8’ 4 piece 5wt and the other was a little 7 ft 3p cannon built for me by Dave Lewis.  (I remember getting around an 80ft cast with it the first time I cast it.)

    My impressions?

    The back cast on my bamboo rods seem to load the LINE a lot better than the back cast on the graphite rods.   Almost all the power seemed to be applied in the fore cast.  I'm not sure what that's all about.

    A few other notes on our recent discussion.

    Several people used the word "slow" to describe  bamboo.  I remember reading a Lee Wolff article in which he stated that the distance you cast is directly related to line speed. Line speed can't be any faster than the rod.  So if I'm casting 75 to 80 ft I have to creating a line speed of x whether I'm using bamboo or Graphite.  Therefore bamboo has  to reach the same speed as graphite.   

    My feeling is that bamboo has to START slower, to get the mass in the rod moving smoothly, but the cast ends up at about the same speed as graphite.

    Power (force, energy, what ever you want to call it) has to go some where.  No matter what the material in a fly rod if you produce Y energy it's got to go somewhere.  If a rod's well designed, the energy will end up being applied to the fly line.  If it's not then some of the energy will be bled off somewhere else.  (I think of the "rebound" that a rod tip sometimes makes as one place energy can be wasted.)  If some of the original energy goes into the rod, then that energy goes somewhere.  Maybe back into your wrist as you try to stop the rod, or maybe out the line accelerating the cast?

    And last, but not least, remember when we cast, we're always pulling the line, never pushing it.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)


I think I've mentioned that I work with Project Healing Waters, at Bay Pines VA, in St. Petersburg.  We teach fly tying and fly fishing (Even, occasionally, fish catching).

One of the biggest problems with new fly casters is their experience with other types of rods. I call it the windshield wiper cast.  From 90 degrees behind them to 90 degrees in front. They somehow get 20 ft of line out and feel like they're conquering the world.   Once they start this, it's a struggle to break them of the habit.  "Surely, if I fling it harder, it'll go farther."  I once stood right behind a student and told him "don't hit me with your back cast."  He tried to cast around me!

But one trick that seems work, is to take the rod out of their hand and make them cast the line.  Of course, it's best to teach this starting with an 1/8th in rope or line.   But once they've got it down it's a lot easier to hand them a rod.

Which brings us to the question of "Why a rod in the first place."

Of course the answer is that the rod magnifies the action of our hand.  This magnification is only limited by the increase of the apparent weight of rod and line as the rod gets longer.   The "flex" in a rod not only serves to play a fish and keep the tipped from breaking, but also lends to spreading the combined apparent weight of rod and line over the entire back, or, fore cast.  

The rods I like to cast the most let me feel that "snap" (power stroke for you plastic guys) roll down the length of the rod, out through the tip.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    Hi Terry...Great issues.. These are my IMHO answers.

    "but also lends to spreading the combined apparent weight of rod and line"

    And that is what leads directly to this:

    "The rods I like to cast the most let me feel that "snap" (power stroke for you plastic guys) roll down the length of the rod, out through the tip."

    I like to think about it in terms of bend angles.. that rod (see above) has a footprint,  the way the distribution of the mass makes it bend. I look at it purely as how does it bend. ( If I had a conservation of energy modeler, I would use that too) If one rod that bends that way gives you that feeling, then why couldn't any rod that bends synchronously to that one give you the same feeling?. Remember, in this exercise, we are just trying to re-create that magic feel in any length or line weight. Why wouldn't "the feel" you like be valid with any rod?

    I do this too: The Great Paradigm Shift

    "misjudge my timing and the loop falls apart"

    We have been talking about feel for weeks now and this is the first time "timing" has crept into the conversation.

    I maintain  the difference  between bamboo and graphite is "FEEL."

    There is a little micro-clock in our brain that times events. I watch the line, my clock is registering. When casting carbon fiber I am "getting a feeling for the timing for the rod."

    When I am casting bamboo, I am reaching out beyond myself and trying to feel the line/rod. Eyes closed. No external clock. Feel only..

    The joy of bamboo.  (Jerry Foster)

      Forgot, more about the clock..

      It's the same clock that at good 3'rd baseman uses to get in front of a sharply hit, erratically bouncing ground ball. Experience, athleticism. The clock.

      So what I advocate is turning off the external clock during the feeling out stage of casting a new rod. Now I have to reach out through my fingers, primarily, and search for something out there. Or just watch the rod tip, and feel. That distracts you from the timers.. hehee

      At this level we are talking about "swing thoughts" in golf.

      I know this really primitive stuff to most of youse, and I don't mean to offend you outstanding casters, and CCI's, as some of this may run against the grain.  (Jerry Foster)

    Sometimes I can diagnose the caster/rod interaction and understand what happened. I'm test casting out around d 60~65’ when I misjudge my timing and the loop falls apart on me. 

    Other times I can't.  This usually happens when I'm out at the max for rod and caster.   I think that the rod has reached it's max.  I can't coax another foot or even half foot out of it. 

    I say it's the rod because it happens at different distances with different rods.   The dividing line seems to be line weight.  a 4 wt casts about 5~8’ further than a 3 wt.  A 5 wt casts about 5~8’ further than a 4 wt, etc etc.

    What causes this collapse at distance?  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

      I think a part of it is that the thinner line of the lighter rod is more affected by air resistance than the thicker line of the heavier rod, the densities of the lines being equal. That's just physics -- fog droplets hang in the air, but raindrops fall to the ground, but both are water in the liquid state. Now you could put the heavier line on the lighter rod but your relative ability to cast a tight high speed loop will be less, so you probably can't do better that way.  (Mike McGuire)

        Was this the question Terry?

        I say it's the rod because it happens at different distances with different rods.   The dividing line seems to be line weight.  a 4 wt casts about 5~8’ further than a 3 wt.  A 5 wt casts about 5~8’ further than a 4 wt, etc etc.

        What causes this collapse at distance?  (Jerry Foster)

          There comes a point in this continuum at which the physical characteristics of the  rod are such that it is, at some weight load state, not  able any longer to impart to the mass of line the acceleration required to maintain it in motion.  F=ma is a pretty tough master!

          And as to where I think I "sense" the stresses - fingers, wrist and elbow. Fingers as touch as the rod presses against them; wrist as the muscular effort required to maintain stability in that joint; and elbow toward the end of the back cast as it yields to the moving mass (inertia) of the rod/line composite.  That firm , long pull or tug at the completion of the back cast that says the phase is complete is to me the huge difference between bamboo rods and plastic ones.  (Peter McKean)

            One thing I forgot to mention earlier in the discussion about the fulcrum point, is that the area between your knees and your feet can be the fulcrum point too.  I've watched some distance casters getting into some really loooooong casts, and they are leaning back quite a ways and coming forward almost as far.

            That's what makes it really hard to nail down the dynamic stresses of the cast - the shifting fulcrum point.  (Mark Wendt)

              As in a golf swing, I would think it is the big muscles that provide the power and the joints transfer the power and control largely the timing.  (Dave Burley)

                True, but a golf swing is a bit easier to dynamically analyze, because the fulcrum point of the lever doesn't shift anywhere near as much as it does in the motion of casting.   It's also a circular motion, in which torque plays more into the equation.

                Besides, golf is a four-letter word... (Mark Wendt)

                  Some people find fishing "boring", and it's understandable since they know nothing about it. A lot of those same people will sit for hours, watching a "hushed" gallery of onlookers stare at someone try to hit an undersized ball into a hole in the ground while playing a "game"  mistakenly identified as a sport.

                  Personally, I'm of the "Happy Gilmore" mindset, and think that full contact golf would be far more exciting and fun to watch.

                  That aside, the dynamics of a golf swing and a cast flyline are not comparable. (Thank gawd...)

                  And GOLF is boring... leave it to their lists and forums.  (Mike St. Clair)

                    I was just supporting the notion that full contact casters use more than their wrists to power their casts.  (Dave Burley)

                I have stayed out of this for a bit, bringing golf into the equation sparks me to respond.  Once a few years back was playing in a foursome in Idaho Falls.  Now in those days I hit my drives about 250 yards.  We were behind a foursome who were playing slow.  I had the honors and so I teed up and waited until the last of the foursome ahead had hit his second shot.  I didn't think there was a chance in h--- of getting near them.  I unleashed a tremendous swing and actually my ball carried over their heads.  One of those memorable golf shots we all like to.  When I look back on it, it was the result of big muscles and exquisite timing. But usually when I tried to unleash a block buster I ended up short of my 250 yd average.  Same thing happens when I cast.  I can be carrying a good amount of line and feel comfortable, but the moment I try for that little bit of extra distance, my distance drops  Now it can be a rebound of the rod , an open loop and any of the other reasons already mentioned.  My best guess is that when me push, we wreck our timing.  Cure??? practice and practice.  (Ralph Moon)

                  Or have a sweet swing like Freddy Couples.  Makes it look like there's no effort, and he crushes the ball.  (Mark Wendt)

                  Here is a link to a place on Fishnbanjo's web site I found on the Tips page last evening, originally referenced by Chris Carlin, where appears a wrinkled but perfectly legible copy of EC Powell's 1937 pamphlet entitled "The Mechanics of Fly Casting."  In light of this particular thread (and others recent), I thought it might be of interest to some of you, even if you've seen it before.  For you philologists, notice how what we now refer to as the "double haul" was originally -- and around the time of this pamphlet's publication--called the "double pull."  Not sure if we've managed to make it sound any easier.  :D    (Bob Brockett)

          If the question is why does maximum distance you can cast vary with the line weight of the rod, I will say again that it is wrong to neglect the effect of the diameter of the flyline.  Everything else being equal -- diameter of the loop, initial velocity etc, it's the frontal area of the loop, which varies with line diameter, that dominates. This was shown in an article published in the American Journal of Physics, "The mechanics of flycasting: The flyline" by Graig Spolek, Am. J. Phys 54, 832 (1986). There is quite a bit of interesting stuff in it, modeling different tapers and loop sizes.  (Mike McGuire)

            Interesting.  Hadn't considered just the line diameter by itself, but I see where you're going.  I've never cast a genuine silk line, but isn't that pretty much the argument those guys make?  (Besides the sheer lack of memory silk lines are supposed to have, I mean.)  (Bob Brockett)

            I'm not clear.

            Are   you   saying   that   "Everything   else   being  equal  -- diameter of the loop, initial velocity etc," that a 6 wt casts a shorter distance than a 5 wt?  Or are you making the case that larger frontal area (larger wt) results in less distance?  (Al Baldauski)

              The larger frontal area would appear to result in a shorter cast. However weight needs to be considered. The weight of the line is going up as the square of the diameter, while air resistance goes up as the diameter. The accelerating force on the line in the direction of the cast due to its "bullwhip" dynamics is v dm/dt. That rate of change of mass is greater for the heavier line, again varying as the square of the diameter. So in the end the heavier line wins faster than it loses due to diameter and goes further.  (Mike McGuire)

                And there's always inertia to consider.  Greater mass takes longer to accelerate and decelerate for the same amount of force.  And with greater mass it takes more work to overcome inertia.  (Mark Wendt)

                OK,  I see all that except the "bullwhip dynamics".  In a properly executed cast the lines is virtually straight out behind you before the forward cast, no bullwhip.  (Al Baldauski)

    I think Terry's question was aimed at you physics types in terms of what happens at the dark end..strain..where we can hear words like, deformation, shear, collapse, failure. But hark, I believe Terry already knows.

    My lay brain says: That tapered stick is a form of energy storage and transfer device. All the energy that goes into a cast comes from your body. Two systems, one will fail first..if it's the human one then go take lessons or practice. We know the rod system will fail also. A rod only has the capability (which we design in when we say this is a 3wt fished at 25', or a 6wt at 60') of absorbing so much energy/force. Potential energy (how much can it store, withstand). Gee, I think it relates to it's cross sectional area. So we humans are not limitless in terms of a power source nor is each rod limitless as a power transfer device.

    Here is a programatic breakdown of my cast with a certain rod..

    The tip travels a total of 106" from start to when the rod is straight again. of this, 70 were spent dragging (levering) the line to a position where the rod is in a state of total deflection. That is the point at which my wrist is uncocked (basically I am done with the cast) (the stop) but the rod is just now beginning to unspring. So after my hand stops the rod tip continues forward 36 more inches. Plus overcast. his takes place in about 600ms.

    At some point during the cast on an overloaded rod, the rod will say "I give up." Same sense of "feel" is telling you to stop or really bad things are going to happen. 

    During this whole process physics/mathematics are happening, or are they just observing? (Jerry Foster)

      During this whole process physics/mathematics are happening, or are they just observing?

      You're too damned philosophical for me :)

      Of course they're happening and YOU'RE observing.

      The rod is limited by its cross section on how much energy it stores and the rod is limited by the human's ability to accelerate it.  The solution is some compromise in between.  That's the big question, isn't it?  How does one arrive at that compromise for a given line wt and casting distance and rod length for dry flies, nymphs, or streamers on windy day or not?  (Al Baldauski)

      Physics is always happening, whether at work or at rest.  Ya just can't get away from it...  ;-)  An overloaded rod may be working close to the point where you've exceeded the stress point where deformation takes place, but it is still working.  That modulus of elasticity thingy comes into play when you come near those stress points.  On the other hand, you may be nowhere near those stress points, but the taper itself is way overloaded, and can no longer carry the mass of the line at the required speed to keep a cast in the air.  Remember, modulus of elasticity is exceeded in a bending moment, and a rod, though overloaded for the mass of the line being carried, may or may not be close to exceeding the MOE threshold.  Look how far you can bend a tip section in your hands without breaking.  Generally, even on an overloaded rod, we aren't bending the rod as much as that.  The rod that's overloaded hasn't the potential energy to "spring" back to straight or overcome the mass and velocity of the line in the air.  (Mark Wendt)

    Terry...linespeed?

    I'm no competent caster, by a long shot but from doing much backyard casting to (try) to rid myself of ingrained troubles, I've come to realize a huge fault with my casts. This is it.

    A fickle topic because it entails more than just a couple simple factors....otherwise we'd all be great casters and wouldn't be having this discussion.

    The thing is, I have been shown and demo'd. by some truly good casters. I've done much reading, much thinking and mucho practicing (playing, actually...I love 'the cast') and I know exactly what needs to be done.

    My trouble? I STILL can't actually perfect it. (big grins here....)

    But I love the feel of a fine cast.

    My family only just came back from our annual two week vacation up to favorite. muskie lake in northern MN. It's where I often sling an 8 and/or a 10 wt for some big pike, nice smallies and hopefully a muskie, once one is located. I noticed myself casting much better due to the 4 wt bamboo training/diagnosis/playing with that line feel.

    I also noticed the bad habits creeping back and on some longer casts with a bigger fly, a good form and tight loop prevented me from killing myself with the workout. It's where I noticed the need   for   that   linespeed/rod   load/casting    arc-control deally-ma-bob. It made itself terribly clear, that efficient loopage and high back-cast with no sinking of that line back there.

    In refs. to a previous post of yours recently, you know what made me begin to notice and control my rod swinging? Hand casting a furled leader downstairs w/o a rod...just the leader.

    That little bit of "Ah ha" moment made ALL the difference for my "workout" on a large muskie lake! The casting was fun.

    Just sharing a little here. Man, I love a good cast and it can make my day when it all comes together. Conversely it can, has and will bugger up a perfectly good day if my playing around with my canes doesn't go the way I think it should.

    Love this stuff!  (Jeremy Gubbins)

    Here's another question.  You pick up a rod and cast it X feet after that you can't get any more out of it.   I pick up the same rod and cast it Y feet after that I can't get any more out of it.   12 of the other members of this list cast the rod and at some point they just can't get any more out of it. 

    What happens to the ROD at the point that none of us expert casters can get another inch out of it?  What ever that distance is?  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

      Not sure here, but if you're talking about the cast falling apart at or near the end of the rod's casting capability (& the casters!), then the taper is often strongly in the mix.  Tip section + strength of the butt down low. Still, the finer and softer the tip, the harder you have to work to hold that line overhead for any duration at real distance, plus shooting becomes, at some point, impossible.  Gravity, by far the weakest of the four known forces, still remains our largest hurdle when you're really getting out there.  Eventually, it has to break down.  But if you're talking about casting in moderate distances, distances that you know the rod is capable of and still having problems, then that failure rests purely on the caster. Maybe I haven't understood completely what you guys are discussing here and THAT sure wouldn't be the first time!  This from the village idiot, so administer the grain or bottle or block of salt as needed.  And more power to ya!  (Bob Brockett)

      I have an idea why a cast falls apart but I'm not sure I can put it into words clearly.

      When you have a short length of line out your rod behaves like a fast action flexing mostly near the tip and you get nice tight loops.  As you get more and more line out the rod flexes deeper towards the butt.  No news here :) But what you also have to consider is that the more the rod flexes the shorter it gets.  So when you have the rod at or near the "overloaded" point it is bent way back on the backcast but it is also bent way down from its maximum height.  As you bring the rod forward it at some point in the stroke it starts to unload.  In doing so the rod tip is trying to throw the line UP as well as forward, opening the loop and wasting energy in the wrong direction.  All of this results in kind of a fluttery, failed cast.  The point at which this occurs in not clear- cut.  Some casters have an overall more efficient stroke and can get more line out before this happens others (me) not so much.

      This is  the first time I've had this idea so am probably all wet.  Let's hear from some expert casters!  (Al Baldauski)

        Usually, most cast fall apart because on the forward power stroke you don't come to a stop at the right position.  (Grant Adkins)

        Sounds very reasonable. Plus the fact that the tip has to carry more line weight, it just doesn't have the strength to do that. (Pete Van Schaack)

        I think Al hit on a very important thing here with casting: on the forward (power) stroke, if the slightly downward track is not maintained and the arm rises at any point, you create a kind of hump and you're then suddenly casting UP, that's when you lose power and things can fall apart.  Sometimes these things are done intentionally when changing direction, but not when you have a maximum amount of line out.  For me, fishing is hunting.  Get as close as you dare, and make the best and shortest cast possible.  Most times you only get one.  (Bob Brockett)

        I think what you say makes a whole lot of sense.

        At the point we are talking about it feels to me as though the line is getting sticky in the guides. I think this point comes when there is insufficient surplus line speed to draw the line through the guides. This loss in line speed is due to too much slack having been built into the line formation.  The slack would, I imagine, result from waves having been imparted to the line and/or the loop having got too large. What you say Al, makes perfect sense for the latter. The former would probably, as Bob mentioned, be a result of the taper e.g. a tip that bounces too much or a rod that recovers slowly.

        I think tip bounce and rod  recovery are very important factors. Ideally at the end of the cast the rod should be perfectly lined up with where the line is going - usually horizontal. If this is the case there is minimal friction in the guides to hinder shooting line. If the tip bounces too much and/or the rod is slow to recover, the curvature of the tip and/or rod increases the friction in the guides.

        The guide spacing also plays a part here. If the guides are too far apart, sagging and line slap between the guides would also hinder shooting the line. Conversely too many guides would also introduce more friction but my guess is this would be the lesser evil.  (Steve Dugmore)

          Additional thought:

          You've mentioned line speed which is all important.  At the point of overload, as indefinite as it may be, more of your forward cast motion is going into bending the rod because you've had to apply more force to accelerate MORE line out.  So when you come to your stop point there has been less effort used toward directly increasing line speed and more used to bend  load/overload  the  rod.   So --- at the stop, the line speed is lower than it would have been if you were at the "sweet spot" and you're depending on the rod to further accelerate the line. But with so much line out, it can't do a very good job.  Think what happens if hold your rod vertical and have someone else pull out 60 feet of line and bend your rod backwards to load it.  What happens when he lets go?  You don't get a full distance cast!

          So the combination of lower speed and the tip directing the line upward results is a lousy cast.  (Al Baldauski)

      What happens to the ROD at the point that none of us expert casters can get another inch out of it?

      Most likely it's overloaded, and unable to carry that much line in the air without losing line speed. There is a second sweet spot to talk about when all out distance casting, and that involves the question of how much line you should false cast to get the maximum distance with that particular rod. The answer to that varies quite a bit with rod action. A very fast rod with a stiff butt, for example, will start to bog down and lose line speed fairly quickly. It has to, because the thin tip is doing most of the work. So to get the most distance with it, make shorter false casts, and rely on line speed to shoot for distance. A parabolic rod with a stiff tip and a full flexing butt has a slower action, but will maintain that speed with more load, and so the caster should false cast more line, and shoot less for maximum distance. In effect, the caster uses the weight of the longer line rather than line speed to provide momentum to the cast. If you watch an experienced distance caster pick up and cast a new rod, what you will observe is that person trying to find the balance between line speed and line in the air to find the point that results in maximum distance.  (Tom Smithwick)


 

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