Notes on the 'bloody L' - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 09-15-2005, 09:15 AM
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Notes on the 'bloody L'

Subject: "Bloody L"
Topic Area: Spey casting fault
Author: Juro Mukai
Date: 09-15-05

The 'bloody L' is a name which I believe was coined by Simon Gawesworth to describe a right-angle shape of the anchor instead of a desired straight line where the fly, leader, and end of flyline are lined up in the same plane.

When the cast is made from a bloody-L anchor the line has difficulty picking up off the surface due to the sharp corner it has to turn, thus this casting fault causes a loss of power and turbulence in the loop. As most 'real men' will do, if more power is applied to overcome the fault then there is a shock factor that causes turbulence in the loop which can be enough to cause flailing of the fly and leader. A smooth application of power against the 'L' results in a sudden loss of momentum because of the 'L'. The best remedy is to eliminate the fault and retain the use of smooth power.

There is quite a bit of discussion to offer on this topic but suffice it to say it's important to develop a smooth tension in the lift and consistent d-loop sweep to prevent the bloody-L.

This is a topic worth study especially if you are interested in the THCI. The two main categories of BL are (a) downriver B/L due to incomplete set movement and (b) upriver B/L due to dip in the d-loop setup move.

Although there is no substitute for working with an experienced instructor one-on-one but here is a basic primer on the two forms of B/L and what to do to avoid them:

a) downrver B/L

During a downriver anchor cast (e.g. double spey, snake roll) if the endpoint of the flyline is not brought far enough upriver then the d-loop will occur in a plane far closer than the end of the line, since our arms are only so long.

If the end of the line is so far downriver that the d-loop sweep can not pull it into plane, then an "L" shape results.

That anchor feels like it weights 100 pounds and the cast will not go well. Adding power to defeat that excessive stck only creates shock.

remedy: practice the set move to place the end of line correctly so that the sweep pulls the leader into plane

double spey: Simon Gawesworth's technique of lifting high and dropping low on the upriver side is by far the easiest to control placement and it pays to review his book on this particular technique. Allow the momentum of the sweep to pull the leader into plane, even turning the fly around into the proper line while making the power stroke.

snake roll: use consistent tension to setup good anchor placement with the first half (forward roll portion) of the snake, then provide adequate energy to pull the d-loop tight with the second half (rearward pull portion).

b) upriver B/L

This is a common fault for upriver anchor casts (e.g. single-spey, snap-C/T/circle, upriver snake) whereby the end of the line lines upriver in the 'L' shape inflicting it's woes on the d-loop.

snap-t/c/circle: The snapped B/L is the mirror image of the downriver B/L as mentioned for the double spey. The snap went too far upriver to be pulled into plane by the d-loop.

upriver snake, which I am not sure too many have adopted yet, is the mirror image of the downriver snake with the added note that the initial line setup move from down to upriver should not have a lot of power but smooth tension to prevent it from flying too far upriver

The most interesting B/L is the single spey which produces an upriver bloody L. I have to thank Simon G for enlightening me on the nuances of this case.

When a lift and sweep is made the line comes tight end-to-end and begins to move from the dangle toward the upriver anchor which is integral to a single spey cast.

If the rod dips sharply on the way the front of the line slows down due to the sudden loss of tension and allows the far end to overtake it - proceeding directly upstream. As we pull the line around to corner into the d-loop, the far end of the line has already shot upriver and thus the shape of an upriver L is formed.

Moral of the story: it's important to apply smooth tension such that the far end of the line does not exceed the tension in the near end. Maintain a level sweep angle, or use only the slightest dip possible to turn the corner into the backcasting plane. Anything more and the far end will fly upriver in a perfect 'L' shape, which may look neat but absolutely kills the cast.

special thanks to insights from Simon G, his personal teachings at claves and his new book which is the benchmark of spey knowledge in modern times
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