Loop size relative to Speed up and stop
It's said that "loop size depends on how far the rod tip travels during the speed up and stop (SUAS)". Yet the seeming lack of a clear definition of SUAS begs a few questions in my mind.
Do we begin speeding-up at the beginning of the stroke or only at the end?
When does the SUAS begin and when did the rest of the casting stroke end (leading up to it)?
I teach loop size differently in a manner more consistent with the way Bruce Richards describes it. The size of the loop is a result of where the rod stops relative to the path of acceleration, which must be straight.
Therefore if a line is tight end to end and accelerating forward, where the leading device (rod tip) stops defines how large the gap will be between the upper and lower leg of the loop.
So even if a rod was 100ft long as long as it's deflection tracks a striaght path and stops close to the path, the loop will be tight.
If the rod deflects the line away from the path, well... that's a technique problem. I do however agree that in most cases it's more difficult to maintain the deflection to path with a longer rod, but that is the fault of the caster and in skilled hands not significant in the 11ft to 15ft length differential we are discussing here.
If someone has a horizontal final snap motion, which (like you) is the way I interpret the SUAS, then the loop will not be opened in a downward deflection. If fact it's kind of a 'cheat' I use to keep loops very tight with a two-hander. I use the metaphor throwing a frisbee on a stick to describe it.
Conversely, even if someone doesn't really speed-up at the end of the stroke the loop can be opened up dramatically by dropping the rod tip with a constant rate of acceleration (smooth). In fact many trout casts use final accelerations and rod positions to make the line go in every which way even opposite the rod direction (reach casts, aerial snap mends, etc).
The snap-t reverses the tension and the final SUAS is directly opposite the line's direction. Clearly it's the rods position relative to the line's path that defines the size of the snap shape.
In digging deeply into this topic, which I believe a good instructor would do, I find it harder to accept the SUAS mantra. It has the merit of simplicity, however it suffers from lack of clarity. I don't find the following difficult to say or understand, and believe it is more accurate:
The size of the loop is a result of where the rod stops relative to the path of acceleration, which must be straight.
Do we begin speeding-up at the beginning of the stroke or only at the end?
When does the SUAS begin and when did the rest of the casting stroke end (leading up to it)?
to me the answer is the same for both questions, that is the accelaration is continous as the rod is loaded more. there is only the push and the stop. to me the stop is the determining factor in my loop control. if i bow the tip slowly, as you alluded to, it will open up more. i use this to be able to push the line speed tight loop theory but then open it up at the end to get slack for dry fly presentations. or also moved horizontaly to reach a mend in the air. or on good days both at the same time.
this brings up the point of fishing vs casting. my fishing casting looks ugly at best, but i could care less, all i want is that dry to land where i want it with enough slack to reach the riser. i rarely cast single handed for practice these days because it makes me think about casting instead of being able to do it like walking down the sidewalk. the more i think and analize the worse it gets. it was the same thing when i played goalie in hockey. in that situation it is called "fighting the puck" . i see beginner casters do this every day, "fighting the cast". at a certain point it must become automatic, doing it without thinking. great topic.
Define the "path of acceleration" in more detail. Are you describing the rod tip, line path or casting hand?
I could never get the concept straight in my mind on "straight line path of the rod tip", this is just not reality,,,,we begin the forward cast with the rod tip low and to the rear, move the rod tip forward and then haul with the line hand,,,,this imparts additional load on the rod and it deflects (toward the water or lower) now we stop or SUAS the rod and the rod tip flips over to vertical. No way did that rod tip make a straight line path as most of the text books and instructions insist is the most efficient way to cast. The rod tip actually makes a concave path when we line haul, the haul does not use very much energy to speed up the line,,,,it loads (bends) the rod.
The method taught by Left Kreh is not universal or accepted by tournament casters or most of Europe. If you would visualize a graph with casting hand path (distance) on horizontal axis and acceleration on the vertical axis. If the casters rod hand moves say 36" overall from the begining of the forward cast to the stop,,,,,,then 34" is very slow acceleration and contributes to 10-20% on the acceleration graph axis,,,,,now the final 2" is the actual SUAS and contributes 80-90% of the acceleration,,,,,the line haul must occur in the final 2" of SUAS. The acceleration curve jumps to maximum and down to zero in the 2" of hand travel. If the wrist is not flexed durning the SUAS the loop will be very small,,,,,if you flip the wrist it will open the loop. I try to use my shoulder muscles to execute the SUAS with a single handed rod,,,,,,not the wrist as most trout FF.
One thought on the SUAS,,,the rod can be vertical,,,,45 degrees above horizontal or actually horizontal when the SUAS is executed. The line will follow the direction of the rod tip at the end of the SUAS. When we watch Lefty cast he executes a smooth fluid motion and it is difficult to separate the SUAS with the final "frogs hair" push on the thumb which drops the rod tip after the SUAS is completed,,,,this is done so the line does not crash into the rod tip (especially if the rod is stopped vertical) and it does open the loop a small amount.
I find that the majority of casters do not use the SUAS and if they actually do have a good positive stop,,,,their acceleration is fairly constant throughout the rod hand total path of travel.
Absolutely, unequivocally and in no uncertain terms it is just what it says, the path of the line. It's the job of everything else to maintain that linear path. I always teach to focus on the line verses the tip, which is tiny, fast and hard to guide on the other end of a flexing wand. The line however is long, slower in appearance, and the straightness of lack thereof is readily apparent.
For example, if the rod had zero flex, or if it was as soft as a noodle the caster must compensate motion to guide a given line in a straight line from the front end to the fly in order to make a tight loop. Either can do the job if the stop is compact and close to the line's path.
Stiff rods offer less of a stable feel for 'feel casters' like me in exchange for top-end power, but in some hands they are just the ticket. I prefer a sense of stable energy through the cast in order to best maintain that steering sensation, in other words a rod that has a sweet flex that is neither soft nor stiff. However in certain applications I am just as willing to deploy a pool cue as I am willing to go to a willow branch for Vermont brookies.
This has always been a difficult subject to put into words. Graphics even, still are lacking in desription. Two things here. Accelerate and Straight line path of rod tip.
Acceleration simply means to increase the speed. But the rate of acceleration is of paramount importantance. The rate of change of velocity with respect to time. It must be a gradual increase in speed. All the way through the stroke! I am reluctant to use the phrase "constant acceleration" due to this reference of SUAS. As if the stroke is made at a constant speed until the final few inches before we finally initiate this rapid SUAS. This is, IMHO, misleading. This technique, what I refer to as a delayed application of power, will only work in the context of classic old style casting. (single hand rods) Where you were taught to hold a book between your casting arm and your body. No double hauls. And you are only casting small flies for relatively short distances. When you start trying to throw large flies, weighted flies, and/or going for more distance, you simply cannot get the desired results with that delayed and sudden, application of power. After all, just how much is the human body physically capable of accelerating in, say six inches, of hand/wrist movement?
Now for the straight line path of the rod tip. We have all seen demo's where the caster makes the classic 180 degree arc, constant speed resulting in no loop at all, not going anywhere cast. And then we are told to shorten the stroke, making a smaller arc, and viola, (sp) the loop forms nice and tight and "out she goes"
Somewhere along the line we are told about SUAS and "where the rod tip goes, the line follows" Fine, but it all happens so fast that it is hard to see and understand, even when you are seeing it live. What they never seem to get around to is the fact that as load is applied to the rod, it bends. Hell we all knew that. But what is important here is that as it bends, the tip is now at a lower elevation as it swings through the casting arc than if it were a broom stick, with no delection at all.
Graphic illustrations attempt to show this. However, they usually fall short in that they only show the rod straight and unloaded at the very beginning of the stroke. The next pic will show the rod fully loaded. The final pic will show the rod after the SUAS where it has recoiled and showing the small arc the tip has inscribed between fully loaded and fully unloaded.
Allow me to reiterate here to empahasize a point. What they never seem to get around to is the fact that as load is applied to the rod, it bends. Conversely, the more load is applied to the rod, the more it bends. The more it bends, guess what? The tip drops in elevation. Now before someone chimes in and says yeah but this can be made up for by,,,,,, hang with me a bit longer.
There is a third element that is involved here. Time! The rate of change of velocity with respect to time. How much the rod bends at any given time during the stroke. This steady increase in speed, which causes the tip to deflect in such a manner as to inscribe this "straight path" combined with just the right amount of "arc" at the butt of the rod will get you, not exactly that "straight" path of the rod tip but one with a slightly higher elevation somewhere between the start and the finish of the stroke. Hopefully, resulting in that classic tight loop.
And this is what separates the men from the boys. The smooth, steadily increasing application of power, culminating in a sudden stop. Allowing the rod to unload, the formation of that tight loop, to catapult the line into the next county.
Not that I am an expert, far from it. Or that I can do it every time. Just do like I say,. Not as I do. :Eyecrazy:
Bottom line,,,,,Watch the line. (YES,,,pun intended,,,definitely) It will tell you what you are doing wrong. And when you get it right,,,, It will shout out to you. YES!!!!
I think striaght line path is very much as JD describes. If you are constantly accelerating the tip continues to bend. I think the idea is that if at any time you let up on the acceleration or slow down, the tip unbends a bit and you no longer have a straight line path and in fact can pretty easily get a tailing loop.
Although I can cast using Lefty's method I prefer a much shorter stroke with not all that much drift. Under adverse conditions - ie wind, I will use a longer stroke as this helps with the timing. I am a firm beliver in the use of the wrist to give the SUAS - both on the back cast and forward cast. IF you start the cast with the arm comfortably at your side with the tip angling towards the water your elbow is about at a 90 degree angle - to get the tip angling down, the wrist is closed. The back cast is simply accelerating up to a stop with the hand opposite the ear and the thumb pointing straight up - for the thumb to point straight up, your wrist had to go from closed to straight - this is the last thing that happens and just this little snap creates a burst of acceleration that is hard to acheive with just arm motion alone. Once you stop you can drift back as much as you want- this has nothing to do with the back cast but is just setting up the forward cast. No dirft is really needed if your timing is spot on but if you start forward too soon you will not be loading the rod and run out of room on the forward stroke and thus drifting allows some leeway here. The forward cast is a very short stroke - just dropping from the shoulder keeping the elbow bent and the last thing that occurs is you turn over the wrist. IF you stop with the hand just below eye level with the elbow bent, your rod stops at a very high angle and you get a very tight loop. If your rotate the elbow some during the forward cast then turn the wrist over, the rod ends up lower with a wider loop. So at least in the technique I mostly use it is really where the rod tip stops that creates a tight or open loop - the final acceleration using the wrist is the same but rotating the elbow some just before turning over the wrist opens up the loop
Watching Steve R on Mel's Advanced tape really drove home this short stoke on the back cast with little drift. It also drove home a point that during his false casts he stopped high with very tight loops - on his last cast in one sequence he accelerated forward with his arm stright and the rod dropped alot and the loop was much wider on this last cast - so he only got out to around 140 feet!!
Now that DVD format has become commonplace, we finally have the ability to slow be able to this stuff down and really see what is going on. Because of the digital format, DVD is not jerky like analog tape when slowed down. You can see some pretty amazing stuff. Now if only I knew how to slow down DVD's. :confused:
"Acceleration simply means to increase the speed. But the rate of acceleration is of paramount importantance. The rate of change of velocity with respect to time. It must be a gradual increase in speed. All the way through the stroke! I am reluctant to use the phrase "constant acceleration" due to this reference of SUAS. As if the stroke is made at a constant speed until the final few inches before we finally initiate this rapid SUAS. This is, IMHO, misleading. This technique, what I refer to as a delayed application of power, will only work in the context of classic old style casting. (single hand rods) Where you were taught to hold a book between your casting arm and your body. No double hauls. And you are only casting small flies for relatively short distances. When you start trying to throw large flies, weighted flies, and/or going for more distance, you simply cannot get the desired results with that delayed and sudden, application of power. After all, just how much is the human body physically capable of accelerating in, say six inches, of hand/wrist movement?"
The rod/hand stroke is made at an increasing acceleration (not speed) up to the SUAS. The initial acceleration is fairly slow and increasing gradually (the rod is continuously flexing deeper as the hand travels the long straight line path), then the short quick SUAS at the last few inches to complete the cast.
If you believe that one cannot get the desired results with large weighted flies or longer distance,,,,,tell that to the many hundreds of saltwater fly casters who have used this style for about 35-40 years.
The key is not using the hand/wrist movement,,,,,the SUAS loading of the rod is a speed stroke not a power stroke,,,,,we use the arm and shoulder muscles not the weaker wrist to apply the SUAS. If you try to emphasize power,,,,a tailing loop will result when going for distance.
The very short SUAS at the end of a long hand stroke is only one style of casting,,,,it is not correct or incorrect or the best way for distance.
Most tournament casters use a straight overhead stroke and drift on the back cast,,,,if you have a very strong arm/wrist and great timing this is also very efficient. I personally would not attempt that style with a weighted fly and sinking line and the wind in your face.
And what I meant to infer regarding large, weighted flies and going for distance, was that this continuously increasing speed needs to reach a much higher velocity than can be attained without extending the length of the stroke.
Having said that, there are limits to how fast you can move your arm. If you have continuously increased the speed of movement, with every inch of stroke, to the point where you are physically unable to go any faster, the only way left to get any more (tip) speed is through the wrist.
So we have now come full circle to where we are again refering to the SUAS as a wrist movement. The ACA (American Casting Assoc.) does not recommend teaching fly casting with any wrist movement. None at all. Many have learned to cast and many teach those methods. That's O.K. It works, to a point. But there are more ways to skin a cat than simply yanking it by it's tail though a knot hole. There comes a time when you have to step outside the box.
I have nothing to offer other than thanks. What an excellent thread this is. JD you're talking my language, the way you describe these moves I'm actually starting to get it. Can't wait until I can do some practice casting.
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