If someone asked you what defined fly casting to you what would your answer be? The fly? The symmetry of the back and fore cast? the line we have to use? For me it is the loop. I find the loop endlessly fascinating, not the least because I don’t understand the forces involved. The loop is dynamic, I feel it has life. Of course it hasn’t got life, it’s not sentient but it is the beating heart of a good fly cast.
Because fly lines tend to be mono coloured it’s difficult, if not impossible, to actually see what happens when we create a loop, all we see is the shape moving down the line. If you take the time and marker pen the line so you have black and white bands every four or five hundred millimeters you start to see a whole new universe open up before your eyes. You suddenly see the loop is actually a wave traveling down the rod leg. You see the fly leg whizzing along, feeding into the loop and then just being part of the static rod leg (if you don’t shoot line). It becomes even more fascinating when you start messing around with presentation casts. Do some wiggles and the line actually appears to come back towards you. Snap casts can produce some vomit inducing optical confusion as the bands on one part of the line move in opposition to other parts of the line.
You can have fast loops, slow loops, wide loops, narrow loops, pointy loops, rounded loops, vertically orientated loops, horizontally orientated loops and upside down loops, there is even a photo somewhere on Sexyloops of Ben Spinks casting a square loop (God help me if I haven’t tried to create one of my own).
I sometimes look at a loop, especially one that is very slow, and wonder at it’s ability to turn the leader over. But it does, somehow. There is a loop shape we now call dolphin nosed because of the kink immediately behind it in the fly leg. As far as I can make out the loop is at near stall speed, it looks as if it should collapse, but it doesn’t, it just keeps rolling along and will even turn the leader over. When I first started to notice this loop shape I was preparing for my CCI and assumed it was a fault in my casting. I posed the question on Gordy Hills group and had a reply from Bruce Richards that if he saw one in a test he would regard it as the sign of a good caster. I now regard it as a sign that the caster has the ability to control the amount of force they apply to the line (ok, I know we apply force to the rod, but you know what I mean). It’s the amount of force we apply and the way we transfer that force to the line via the stop that creates the different loop shapes. High line speed, a hard stop and some counterflex will give you the classic top pointed ‘sexyloop’. A softer or dampened stop will give you a more rounded loop. Some rods, and even lines, are more inclined to throw one or the other naturally. There was a time, not so long ago, that if someone handed me their rod to have a cast with (for some reason I sometimes had to wrench it out of their hands first) the first thing I would do is strip all the line off the reel and either see how much line I could aerialize or see how far I could cast it, or both. These days I am more likely to see what loop shapes I can create first……..then try and blast the thing.
Is it me? I ask myself. Am I the only one who is up to here with information? Am I the only one to raise a jaundiced eyebrow (and they take some raising I can tell you) at yet another debate that gets mired in technicalities.
I claim to be a poet but I’m not sure that is really a correct description. I am more your practical tradesman. I see a problem and I get over it or around it or under it. There is some thought process involved but not the endless theorising which still leaves you with the problem to get round, under or over. By the time the theorists have made a decision (which may be an oxymoron as I have never seen a theorist conclude anything) I have succeeded by trial and error and experience, (which theorists seem to ignore) and moved on to the next problem.
At the moment there is a discussion on the benefits of a bendy rod. Well, take a broom stick fishing and if you can’t see why it wasn’t one of your best ideas within the first thirty seconds you are in the wrong sport. It may be of some use, say, vaulting from one bank to the other without getting your feet wet, or as a wading staff, but as a fishing and casting tool it would rate along side a chocolate tea-pot in practicality.
There, I’ve run out of rant. Now what? It’s midday and it’s still minus two, which is beginning to feel quite normal. The six inches of snow we had last weekend is still four inches thick and makes it difficult to see the fly line when I am practicing. See? how dedicated am I? I suffer for my sport. Numb thumbs and a runny nose whilst talking to myself as I run through the presentations I will be giving in March. And, damn me if I wasn’t enjoying it, how bloody odd is that?
There is another interesting discussion going on about TLT or Italian style casting. I was going to give it a go in the field this morning but the only three weight line I have spooled up is white. I theorised for a few seconds and decided that a white line against a grey sky and a white field wasn’t going to allow me to see anything useful. I concluded I would be better off going back indoors, have a coffee, write this and then make myself a nice hot bowl of soup. After that I might pluck up the courage to throw a practical hand grenade into the discussion on the benefits of a bendy rod……or not.
I am pleased to announce I have joined the Barrio Pro Team http://www.flylineshop.com/barrio-pro-team.html . I have always worried about having an involvement with a manufacturer. I enjoy the freedom of being able to say pretty much what I like and I had a fear that any involvement would restrict me in some way. So, it is quite a relief that I have no such problems with Mike Barrios products. I use Barrio lines and his three weight custom rod has been my go to fishing rod ever since I bought it. I was first approached by Mike a few years ago to help design a distance line. A while later, and with input from others, the GT140 was created. I’m sure that with Marc and Will and me suggesting thisnthat Mike will be beavering away in his shed trying to turn our suggestions into real products which we will then have the pleasure of field testing.
Mike has quietly built up quite a successful little business based around quality products at reasonable prices and I look forward to watching it grow even more successful in the future.