Understand Rod Loading
Understand Rod Loading has been discussed among instructors and the fly casting community as equipment advanced over many years. This piece is targeted at the instructor community or the new caster that wants to look deeper into what is going on with the cast.
You the caster provides the effort for creating greater efficiency overall. Unfortunately, for many decades, it has become inadequately accepted by a majority of good-intentioned casting instructors to incompletely address only the concept of constant acceleration.
Understand Rod Loading and Acceleration Relationship
Utilizing only constant rod acceleration may or may not be true depending on your goal of the line and fly layout.
Acceleration exists in THREE forms: negative, constant, and positive! To illustrate, the bending rod load would imply tip flex, mid flex, and butt flex which are all good when needed.
The intent of loop control uses many types of accelerations as that is what helps to create many other types of line and fly layouts. Mastering and utilizing all three rates will empower you with greater control. You will perform many types of fishing casts given the circumstances faced.
Disappointingly, most of the highly technical papers on fly casting tend to follow the goal of just getting the fly line out there and no control over the desired result!
Bend the Rod
Rod bend is the result of YOUR efforts in fly casting. The fly line moves as a result of the energy YOU impart to the rod.
YOU are a necessary component of how fly casting really works! A random Google search on rod load will reveal that most of the pages all treat the loading move as only a 3rd class lever. This is misleading and limits the caster’s development.
There are many methods for loading the rod. You can gain a significant speed enhancement by pulling the bottom of the rod back. This shifts the rod loading move into a 1st class lever. This is often used when teaching two-handed rods. It still exists for using the single-handed rods as well.
Levers and Fly Rods
The pics below illustrate the difference of the tip path with the same distance of force applied to the rod. The third class example is what we see most common during lessons. Both examples have a rotation of the rod. Many instructors talk often about late rotation and believe this equates to pulling versus pushing for the force applied. Late rotation of the loading move has nothing to do with your decision of using the rod as a first-class or third-class lever.
They both accomplish rod movement yet they are two very different things! The illustration has the same six inches of force applied for rod rotation yet in opposite directions. Note how much further the rod tip path is with applying force with the first class! The longer the rod becomes, the greater the efficiency of using the speed enhancement of applying force as the first-class versus a third class. Who would not want to cast with this advantage for dealing with wind, distance, or greater fly line speed for matching a specific intent?
For more advanced casting strokes this should help folks evaluate how their grip and other body movements assist with rotating the rod. Is it more a pushing motion or a pulling motion when you move the rod back and forth in fly casting? The quick drawings below convey the difference between using the rod as a lever. Which one would you choose for a speed enhancement for the same effort?
Example of Rod Load Used As a Third Class Lever (Note Tip Path Distance)
Example of Rod Load Used As a First Class Lever (Note Tip Path Distance)
Get a Fly Casting Coach to Improve
For distance casting, it may be considered a fault to rotate the rod early. Early rotation may lead to tip or mid-flex bending of the rod. The rod contribution to the overall spring effect will be greater when the butt is engaged. Many compound movements occur for rod loading. The difference between elite casters and newbies is their amount of practice matching acceleration with intent!
A proper rod load engaged all the way to the hand indicates a positive acceleration! Early on it is best to appreciate the negative accelerations equally as much for control of layout. Naturally, this is much quicker with an experienced coach over remaining self-taught! Be sure to check out the definitions page for clarification of terminology.