One of my favorite little ditty reads...
from our sponsor Mr. Tim Rajeff his bad self...
Thanks for this link. Tim perfectly describes why I like and use stiff, fast recovery rods, and why I don't like soft or moderately stiff rods. I consistently overpower the soft and moderately stiff rods with the explossive burst of power from a short and very agressive stroke I use. The force added to the rod from my shoulders, back, and arms simply overpowers the softer rods.
This is also why I don't like the short-belly and shooting-head spey lines. The explosive stroke is also used to form the D Loop and with lines shorter than mid-bellies, it simply tosses the line straight back instead of forming a D Loop. I must make a very conscious effort to use a lot less power and a longer stroke with short-belly lines or soft and moderately stiff rods.
He takes a broad view; it also helps convince me of why I love the less stiff / more progressive action which allows me to feel the load increase to the apex of power at the point of release in a semi-relaxed yet positive manner.
The stiff rods that work so well for some people just don't equate to casting pleasure to me, his description sounds twitchy, almost spastic to my perspective of casting (although I can get very spastic at times!). Meanwhile it's perfectly natural and the right method for many others, and furthermore people change as they experiment and I might be eating these words someday :p
Using very high modulus materials in well articulated tapers a rod can simply do the work for the caster. Certainly stiff rods require the caster to work harder, but that sense of active involvement can the definition of pleasure to others, it's a matter of preference I'd guess. For me I love to feel like I am working in symphony with the rod and line motions, without having to really think too hard about it so the river can join in on the chorus and the fish might even come by to do a little solo.
"Stiff" does not equal "fast" to me. I guess you could say that casting is the bending of a lever to create potential energy (load) and the transfer of that energy into a line loop form to project it out there. Fast is, to me, a way of describing the line speed that the rod generates comfortably based on (a) ease of loading (b) recovery and transfer of this energy into the line (c) ease of accelerating the stroke into a lightning bolt of a loop. Certainly a fast rod does not have to be a stiff rod, in fact in my opinion the ultimate rod is the rod that generates high line speed without high effort, i.e. "not stiff but fast".
Is this possible? Who knows, I ain't no expurt - but this is subjective as we established above. However I do know what I like and so does flytyer and there is no wrong or right just preference as Tim put it. Perhaps some phyics and physiologics too.
But my perspective comes from casting a stiff rod with too light of a line and finding it very difficult to load the rod and thus make a good cast unless the caster really works his ass off to bend the rod. The resulting loop from a comfortable amount of effort has no line speed or power - this is what people experience when they say the "rod is not loading".
If a more progressive smoother flexing action rod with the same grain carrying capacity was used with the same line, the caster would be much more able to feel the loading of the line and albeit it would still be too light to generate adequate load and line speed it would sure feel better, and fish better. In the end I fish to feel better, and feel it to fish better. Starting to sound like Tim there! :devil:
I've been spending a lot more time with extended belly lines lately and have been getting more comfortable with them than in the past. Strangely I have come to love casting them ;)
But other than the brief instant where the compression occurs between the grip and the already forward moving loop there is nothing really explosive about long belly casting, at least the way I have adapted to move the mega-grain anaconda out there with my average body frame.
First of all the lift is painfully slow or it fails, as is the sweep to D-loop which is a patient slow gliide to a d-loop that takes forever to materialize. The key for me was to adapt to the different feedback you get from a loop that is still very much moving backwards and start forward so that the forward stroke will not be too late by the time yo anaconda hits the water; letting the already-in-progress forward momentum compress against the anchor almost on it's own out there and follow it thru.
When everything is matched up it becomes effortless, it's all about timing. With these extended belly lines I find myself doing much better by slowing down and paying very close attention to timing, and that works much better for me by using a longer rod with a will to flex (willing taper) for me yet recovers very fast (high modulus).
I also prefer a comparatively lighter line (Rio's A classification). For instance, on a 14ft 9/10 Custom I like the Grandspey or XLT 7/8.
I prefer a rod that is very accomodating for the slowing down of things like lift and sweep - but has ample modulus and power to compress the final power stroke.
I think the best all-around action is a balance between the will to get bent for the caster and the want to recover quickly - just like a vaulting pole. If the pole vaulter didn't get that huge bend he would not be able to propel over the bar. If he increased the modulus of the pole material while using a taper to allow him to bend the lever, he might end up on the ceiling.
Just a bunch of theory, but certainly fun to discuss. I hope others join in on this discussion with their experiences.
You hit the nail right on the head when you said that not having to think about your casting motions with a given rod is what makes casting pleasuarablle. That is why I like stiff, fast recovering rods, I don't have to think about what I'm doing when casting them; whereas, with the moderately stiff or soft rods, I have to think constantly about the need to use a longer, less quick on the power application stroke. Like you said, "When everything matches up, it becomes effortless".
Even with the extended-belly lines I use the same stroke, I just increase the amount of force added and extend its length just a little. This still applies a lot of line speed to all aspects of the cast, including the upstream sweep and D Loop formation. I also use both hands and arms pretty much equally to apply power to spey casts (including when forming the D Loop), and this really adds power very quickly while retaining the shorter, more explosive stroke I prefer. I must admit that a single spey's anchor can hit the water with considerable splash when using this style of casting stroke with a stiff rod and extended belly line; however, the large splash only occurs on cast over 80 ft with a floating line so it effect on fish in minimal.
Like you, I also down size my line with the extended belly lines. In fact, I've found that I must use one size smaller GrandSpey than XLT on a rod for it to feel right and not overload the rod.
You are absolutely right about stiff not being the same as fast. Stiff is resistance to bending, not rate of recovery to original state from bending. Take a hook for instance, it is stiff, but it has lousy recovery. In my mind, fast refers to the recovery rate of the rod after it has been bent under a casting load. And you can have a fast recovering rod without it being stiff. A stiff rod can also be progressive and not tip actioned, it does depend on how much power is applied, how quickly though.
Your observations about fast vs slower when describing a rod is why I've taken to describing rod action using stiffness, rate of recovery, and power instead of fast, medium, slow. Using the three parameters of stiff, recovery rate, and power gives a far more accurate picture of what the rod is doing under a casting load.
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