Loading Move with Pulling the Rod Butt Straight Versus Forced Turnover?
Many will attempt to perform the static roll cast with more of a pushing stroke and rotate everything right at the end of the stroke (\\\\\\\\\|/). This is commonplace today for many fly casters to hit the cast at the end of the stroke. Many fly flingers think of pushing the rod straight during the loading move equates to a late rotation. This dilemma creates wasted residual energy created in waves traveling down the rod leg. It also disregards keeping the traveling loop legs non-parallel (wasted energy as well). The result is often the line lands in the middle (like the St. Louis arch upside down).
Al Buhr often refers to this as the “forced turnover” crowd. That is a great description of it overall! In discussions, we often refer to the “forced turnover” crowd as the “flat Earth” thinkers. Pulling is often referred to as delayed rotation which it is not! In fact, typically pushers late rotate all at once towards the completion of the roll cast. This is exactly the main problem that becomes a hindrance to making it appear easy! Lunging forward more than downward is also a dead giveaway of forcing the turnover. The concepts of pulling and pushing can be traced to the Jimmy Green Fenwick schools in the 1970s.
The Casting Stroke
Figure 1 illustrates the Key Position for beginning the static roll cast. If you need to go farther you can use more body lean forward to initiate the same motion. Figure 2 illustrates the elbow drops back to the body. The real magic of all fly casting lies in using as minimal power as possible to achieve your distance. This is best learned in clinics by having folks pantomime the motion to the point that you can visually inspect pull back. When the grip remains relaxed to the flick of the rod there is a big change in pressure on the casting hand.
The fingers pull through mainly the pinky and ring finger (creates a longer lever as well). This pulling motion is similar to how we drive a large spike in front with a hammer. We pull the hammer using large muscle groups of the shoulder, a wee bit of elbow, and an even smaller tap of the wrist for completion. Another analogy is similar to the motion used to throw an ax in front of your position. Figure 3 illustrates a flat fly leg with a narrow loop. The loop is directed toward a target out and away (imagine eye level for trajectory). Figure 3 also illustrates the follow-through is in stages with the rod position. As the loop straightens out the rod will be pointing straight down the line.
(Fig. 1 )Static Roll Cast Setup (lift fly line s l o w ly into position)
Positive Stop and Pullback
The casting hand is held at ear level, elbow pointing in front, and the rod is dropped at first by the shoulder muscles. The completion of the static roll cast stops with the rod held high to maintain a narrow loop. Jim Green described this process as a POSITIVE STOP. Pull back in fly casting is like flicking paint off of a brush. Few people need a dissertation on how to do that. The greater the squeeze during the stop, then the greater the pullback. The three-point grip promotes a relaxed hand position for using the greater pullback. The more positive stop you have the greater the pulling back move becomes.
(Fig. 2) Launch Angle, Positive Stop & Pull Back Produces Narrow Loop (Notice Flat Fly Leg Trajectory)
The greater the positive stop (pullback) actually reduces the rod counter flex and rebound. The rod assumes a quick “S” shape during the rod unloading. Observation of the rod unloading move in very slow motion reveals the subtle “S” shape. This magic actually increases line speed. The pressure on the rod hand should come from the pinky and ring finger pulling the rod quickly toward the positive stop. My friend, Eric Cook, and I often discuss the differences in leverage used in fly casting. The classic thumb on the top is often more difficult for folks to rely on the small fingers pulling the rod. It can be done but is often more of a struggle during a lesson to achieve as great a pullback.
(Fig. 3) Flat Fly Leg Trajectory Makes for Great Distances with Ease!
Flip the Tip Drill
This casting drill gets rolls casting across among the quickest to the student. Carol Green is credited with coming up with this brilliant technique. However, Hugh Falkus was also using the “flip the tip” lingo on film in the late ’60s.
Using a very small motion of the wrist flick, squeeze, positive stop, and pull back (a by-product of the stop), send a small wave down the line with the rod held high. Intentionally do this so slowly that the wave only travels halfway down the line. Add just a tiny bit more flip to create the wave until it jumps and travels outward. A few inch stroke of this exercise can send an amazing amount of line forward. A forty-foot roll cast becomes a cinch!
Delayed Rotation Or All at Once?
This leads to much confusion on late/early rotation and pulling versus pushing all over the globe. They are two different things and need to remain distinctly separate. Even though some commonalities, as well as differences, occur. Pulling the rod butt straight implies a rate of rotation from the beginning in a downward fashion. One of the biggest differences between elite roll caster is they have mastered pulling the rod butt straight for greater line speeds. The slashes should be dropping down (\|/) more than out and away-difficult with text. It is not delayed or late rotation. We start with a rate in rotation to get maximum speed in a short downward motion.
Tension goggles was a fun topic that my friend Lee Cummings and I discussed many years ago. The concept uses the color red for the highest tension acting on the unrolling line. The color scheme went from highest to lowest in red, orange, yellow, and the least amount of tension blue. It would be great to figure out how to create glasses that actually accomplish this in the near future. Futuristic fly flinging at its finest would lead to a greater understanding of loop morphing. Especially useful for diagnosing advanced fly strokes.
Static Roll Casts
It will take hours of practice to perfect your loading move for the best results with a static roll cast. The key here is PRACTICE! Static implies you lift the rod into position slowly and pause before going forward. The better the static rolls become the dynamic roll casts become a cinch! Dynamic implies a “V” or “D” loop which is swept well in the back of the rod. Check out the definitions page if you become curious about other casting terms. Your aerial distance cast will also improve because you will have learned the “key to the kingdom” in fly casting! Rod loading and an appreciation of very small loop efficiency.
My friend Leslie Holmes has a saying that “Less is More”. I use this often in teaching lessons. What it really implies is that most people come from a background of throwing things (projectile motion syndrome). Do you want to throw it really far? Throw harder right? A traveling loop of the fly line is actually accelerating throughout its flight. This phenomenon is counter-intuitive unless folks really become casting geeks.
The static roll casts really help to open up the door for fly casters’ understanding of rod loading. This concept is for sure in the minority presently on a global scale even amongst instructors. It is my belief that the burden of proof comes from the ease of making these travel great distances with little effort. Happy fly casting!