While out casting a couple of days ago something popped into my head. ‘Menage et trois’. You sometimes think the strangest thoughts while working on something totally unrelated. It wasn’t even about sexual fantasies either.
Lets go back to where this started. I had thought I had found the rod and line I was going to use in Scotland. The rod is ok (ish) it’s a #6 Guideline LPXe, not an earth shatteringly fantastic rod but since someone broke my Targus it’s the one I use for all my masters prep work. I used a Cortland 444 wf on it and I thought it was quite a nice combo. The only niggle was that the line is peach coloured and I have always thought there might be a visibility problem for the assessors if I used it on the test. I acquired a bright orange Greys Platinum, no problem seeing that bugger. I have used Platinums for fishing and quite like them, however, it soon became apparent that it felt a bit heavy. It deadened the rods action making it sluggish to respond and often it pulled out the little mends I had put in. I persevered for a while but it was obviously not a nice partnership and I was getting more than a little frustrated. I have a drawer full of lines I have either bought, been given or have used, not liked and put away. of course, being totally disorganised, none, except the boxed ones, are marked and I don’t have a clue what they are. That’s a problem for a rainy day. Anyway, while searching through the drawer I came across a line already spooled onto a reel cassette, and, wonder of wonders, I had marked it. It was a bright yellow Rio Steelhead and Salmon line. I don’t remember buying it, I certainly don’t remember spooling it up. And, very oddly, it was spooled onto the cassette for someone who winds their reels with their right hand (why do right handers do that??) It was also wound onto the spool in a very haphazard manor. I had to take the spool off and disentangle quite a birds nest. Surely I hadn’t done any of that. It’s a mystery. I finally got it on the rod and had a few tentative casts and found I was liking the experience. I tried some of the casts that were giving me a few problems and the problems disappeared. I was actually enjoying the experience. This is when the thought popped into my head about a menage et trois. Me, the rod and the line had come together to create something beautiful. I enjoyed it, I can’t speak for the rod and line though.
Drag. What does it mean to you? A forward movement of the rod? Are you moving the line? Is there an angular change? Is it a separate motion or is it a blending motion? Is drag synonymous with creep? Would you accuse someone of creeping if the first motion of the stroke was drag?
And you thought fly casting was simple. There is a school of thought that any movement in the direction of the cast that is insufficient to form a loop is creep. I know, and you know, that you added drag deliberately. You told me. ‘Mike’, you said, ’I am going to drag the rod forward about a foot before I start to apply a rotational force to the rod butt’. I have to tell you I was quite impressed. However, according to the ‘insufficient to form a loop’ brigade I would now have to inform you that you have just told me you are going to deliberately creep. A contradiction in terms because, up to now, creep has always been something you did without realising you were doing it. We have now removed creep from the fault column and added it to the motion column. Creep isn’t a fault any more, it’s just a motion, even though 99% of the time we try to eradicate it if we spot it. Drag, meanwhile, has been tainted by looking similar and is now stood accused of the heinous crime of being creep in disguise. I am here to defend drag and save it from that ignominy.
I regard fly casting to be about fluidity, the blending of one motion into another to produce a fly cast. Creep is the antithesis of fluid motion. It’s hesitant, it’s uncontrolled, it’s unintentional and it robs you of something (available casting angle).
Drag is one of the good guys. It smooths out line acquisition. It gets the line moving. It loads the rod. It irons out wrinkles. It allows a smooth transition into rotational acceleration. It allows fluidity. It reduces the chance of introducing a power spike at the start of rotation. Drag may not, on its own, produce a loop. It just helps, in the right circumstances, to produce better ones.
Drag is another useful tool, like drift or double hauling.
I rest my case.
PS. At the recent Newark show I was filmed casting with commentry by Charles Jardine. I’m sorry it’s not the best casting you are likely to see but I was frozen stiff.
I want to talk about drift. Let’s define how I understand drift. Drift is any repositioning of the rod during the pause. During the pause. Very important that bit, it’s done while the loop is unrolling. Drift, in and of itself has absolutely no effect on the line, it is essentially powerless. The most common form of drift is up and back to open up the casting angle and, possibly, lengthen the casting stroke. But drift is actually multi directional. You may choose to deliberately reposition the rod tip down (I do, on some distance casts). You may choose to drift the rod to one side or other. You may choose to drift the rod forwards. You choose the form of drift you need to suit the cast you are making or the conditions you are casting in. However, do you always need to drift? Some of us have drift inbuilt into our casts, much like hauling, and we drift regardless of whether we actually need to or not. I heard one or two comments from MCI’s in Denmark last weekend that some candidates were drifting unnecessarily. I’m not sure any failed their tests because of unnecessary drift but if they were borderline I don’t suppose it helped their cause any.
This isn’t a knee jerk reaction on my part. My knee was jerked several weeks ago during a lengthy thread on Sexyloops. It’s amazing how 99% of a thread passes over your head but a side comment made during the debate can make you sit up and pay attention. The side comment went along the lines that most people drift unnecessarily. I went into the field to find out for myself and, guess what? Whoever made the comment was right. If we are false casting to extend line and each stroke is carrying more line than the last one there may be a need to drift to take into account the wider casting angle required due to the extra line we have shot. Do we need to drift if we are casting relatively similar lengths of line continuously for several cycles (such as accuracy sighting casts, or some of the tasks in the CCI or MCI tests). No, we don’t. I can do the 55 feet element in the MCI without drift, and it looks quite cool.
I may be being a bit over sensitive, I have my MCI test coming up and don’t need to have a perceived fault like that getting in the way. I also don’t want to be accused of creeping if I was to deliberately use forward drift for some reason either.
Talking of creep, and it appears to be the hot topic at the moment, how do you cure it? The answer has been ‘teach drift’. I’m now not so sure that’s the right approach, at least not initially. If a pupil is a reasonably competent caster I would point out the creep, explain what it is doing to their stroke and just ask them to try to stop doing it. Teaching drift would be the second line of attack if it became apparent that their muscle memory was so ingrained they couldn’t help them selves from creeping.
Drift is a good tool in certain situations, but like all good tools, it should only be used when needed.