When a good loop isn’t enough

A nice and tight loop is normally considered the tell-tale sign of good casting control. However, in spey casting that is only part of the story.
Let’s take a look at the following example:

I was satisfied with the loops I was seeing, but subsequent analysis of the video shown a gross error that normally happens inadvertently: a slipping anchor.
Why is this bad?
– It detracts energy from the forward cast —but that is a problem only if your aim is maximum distance, not with an 18 m cast like this one.
– It may send the fly against the vegetation behind you and hook a branch, ruining the cast. It is a nuisance but without further consequences.
– If you are fishing a vegetation-free bank with a shingle-beach behind you things could get worse if you don’t care about your slipping anchor: your fly hits a stone and the hook looses its point… now you are subject to Murphy’s law.

Now the important thing is how to avoid it in practice. The reason for that failed anchor in the video above is a too inclined-up sweep; that leads to a too high apex of the V-loop, which amounts to a big angle between the water surface and the fly leg. The usual result is a fly traveling backward instead of rising up from the water to start its forward trip.

Sweep lower and back and, if the anchor is properly placed and long enough, it will work fine.

As an example let’s see a couple of casts at the same distance and with the same gear, but with a proper anchoring angle:

Schrödinger’s Double Haul (an exercise for curious casters)

alejandro

Hauling is not only a great technique but a very logical one: if we have two hands, why not use both when casting?
High speed cameras are great as well. Now we have them available even in our phone, and they provide better image quality than what an expensive camera did not that long ago. Plenty of opportunities to learn about the nuances of fly casting just by tapping on the screen. Do you want some ideas?

Start casting in a very relaxed way, sending your fluff eight meters away. No force, almost by letting gravity to do the forward cast, trying to get the narrowest loop possible.

After a while strip one meter of line from the reel and go on casting leisurely. No force, tight loops.

Continue with that same routine till you get to a point in which you start to feel out of your comfort zone; false casting isn’t effortless anymore, loops don’t look tight now. That may happen at 16, 18, 20 m… depending on your ability, but it will eventually happen. Keep at it anyway, false casting while trying to get as narrow a loop as possible.

Then —using the same length of line— start double hauling. Do you feel any difference, both in comfort and in loop width? Can you cast tight loops in a relaxed way again?

Now something to think about while watching your video:

We have to match casting stroke angle to rod bend
Hauling bends the rod
More bend due to hauling asks for a wider casting stroke angle

I see hauling to be akin to Schrödinger’s cat: it does bend the rod and it doesn’t at the same time.

Film your casting and see by yourself.

 

Loop Control Paradox (divertimento for curious casters)

Loop width control is a recurrent topic in casting instruction. Several aspects govern loop width, but “matching casting arc to rod bend” is what instructors use the most; so “if your loops are too wide narrow your casting arc” is the usual fix we offer.

Let’s say that I am bass fishing with a popper knotted to a short, stout leader, followed by a bass taper #7 weight line. I want to cover a very promising spot, just a small hole among low hanging branches, which asks for a side cast with a narrow loop.
First try my line crashes against a branch: I need to narrow the loop considerably. So keeping everything equal I decrease my stroke angle… and the loop fails to straighten, for same acceleration along a smaller angle gives, obviously, less line speed.

So keeping the same stroke angle I increase the force applied to the rod to gain that lost line speed. But, hold on one second! More force applied results in more rod bend, and a basic principle of casting mechanics says that we have to match casting arc to rod load! So this time I must increase the stroke angle! Now I widen the angle applying more force at the same time… and my popper curves to the left hooking a branch, as a result of an overpowered cast.

Reducing casting stroke angle to narrow your loops doesn’t work in isolation. No wonder that beginners have a hard time in controlling loop width, as it is a question of very fine-tuned adjustments, more than just varying “casting arc”.

Playing with loops by changing the casting stroke angle is fine; play with force and stroke length as well just to see what happens.

Reflexiones de un falso principiante

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Quizás es un problema de falta de reclutamiento, o que cada nuevo pescador está centrado desde el principio en pescar a ninfa sin usar la línea —o más probablemente ambas cosas— pero es un hecho que la inmensa mayoría de los interesados en instruirse en el lanzado ya tienen una experiencia de varios años pescando; sencillamente nunca hasta ahora se habían preocupado de pulir sus habilidades. Son lo que se conoce como “falsos principiantes”.
Es bien sabido que los vicios de lanzado son difíciles de erradicar. Es mucho más fácil obtener buenos resultados con los que empiezan su carrera como pescadores recurriendo a unas buenas clases. Ser autodidacta en la pesca a mosca en general te sitúa en un escenario similar. Lo sé por experiencia propia.
El verme repitiendo los mismos frustrantes errores una y otra vez me forzó a tomar una decisión: no me voy a olvidar de esos malos hábitos tan pronto como salga del agua para repetirlos de nuevo al día siguiente; voy a reflexionar pausadamente sobre ellos y empezar un programa de desaprendizaje. Así que me propuse elaborar una lista de todos esos deslices que he sido culpable de perpetrar a lo largo de los años. Algunos ya los tengo erradicados, otros todavía me hacen soltar juramentos de vez en cuando.

  • Todos los pescadores sabemos que los peces parecen tener una extraña predilección por la orilla opuesta. Sencillamente ten en cuenta que tu orilla es, ni más ni menos, la orilla opuesta de algún otro, y puede tener tantos peces —o más— como la que tienes enfrente. Así que observa tu orilla detenidamente antes de entrar al agua; una gran estela alejándose rápidamente te servira de recordatorio si no lo haces.
  • Las truchas siempre miran aguas arriba, el problema es que aguas arriba no siempre equivale a río arriba. Analiza la dirección real de la corriente antes de hacer el primer lance.
  • Lanza a un punto concreto. Siempre. Incluso pescando al agua.
  • Cuando la mosca derive sobre el objetivo estudia la configuración de la línea sobre el agua. Esas curvas son la radiografía de la enfermedad del “rayado”.
  • Piensa en si la mosca rayaba antes de pensar en cambiarla.
  • Comprueba siempre cada nudo tras un cambio de mosca.
  • Nunca pierdas de vista la mosca mientras deriva. Si tienes que poner algo en su sitio o hacer cualquier cosa saca la mosca del agua. Falta de concentración equivale a pez fallado; quizás El Pez.
  • Si estás cansado y desmotivado deja de pescar. Tómate un respiro, un par de cervezas, lo que sea. Falta de concentración equivale a pez fallado; quizás El Pez.
  • Cierta cantidad de línea floja es imprescindible para una deriva libre, pero hay que asegurarse de que nunca es tanta como para comprometer la posibilidad de clavar eficazmente. De esto tengo un mal —y muy reciente— recuerdo en Nueva Zelanda.
  • Si cambias de una caña corta a otra más larga, ten en cuenta que el mismo movimiento de brazo al clavar posiblemente sea demasiado duro para tu fino terminal: palanca más larga, clavado más corto.
  • Si tras dias de pescar emergentes del #22 con un terminal de 0,10 mm cambias a un streamer con un terminal recio, recuerda que el “strip strike” se inventó por algo. A menos que prefieras fallar la trucha de tu vida, claro. Basado en hechos recientes y especialmente dolorosos. 😥
  • Cuando pelees un pez mantén los pies bien juntos. En una ocasión rompí la puntera de una caña nueva cuando una trucha cambió repentinamente de opinión, decididiendo que correr aguas abajo a través del canal que formaban mis piernas era mucho más relajado que luchar contra la corriente.
  • Por último, aunque no menos importante: Cuando comience el festín ¡no comas! 😃

There it blows!

Pull Hard Whenever You Can!

lipen

Catch and release practices are being subject to greater scrutiny lately. And rightly so, for releasing a fish doesn’t necessarily mean it will survive if the angler doesn’t take enough care. I wrote something on the subject not long ago:

But in this regard of “releasing alive” there is a point that is missing in both old and new guidelines: sometimes (too many times, judging from what I personally see) the fish destined to be released is, in practical terms, dead before the angler touches it. That old “keep the rod tip up!” we heard so many times in those first fishing days, has the ability of killing as many fish as the neglecting angler-photographer.

There is no problem in shooting some pics or videos of a fish, provided that you bring it to the net quickly. The key is in using the rod properly by varying its effective length. By keeping the rod tip up we exert the minimum force on the fish and the maximum on our wrist. Changing the angle between the rod butt and the imaginary line which connects our hand with the fish, modifies that relationship of forces. I see too many anglers that don’t understand this basic concept.

The following video shows a 2.5 kg brown trout that fell to a #18 nymph on a long 7X (0.10 mm) tippet. Not a suitable diameter, I know, but I didn’t expect that size of fish; had I seen it I’d have resorted to a thicker monofilament. However, by pulling hard whenever I could, I managed to get the trout in the net without any damage, although I was rather “underpinned”. And believe me, that brown fought like crazy.

My point? Taking pics in a sensible way isn’t at odds with proper catch and release practices. It is what happens first what matters the most. So pull hard whenever you can —that is, when the fish stops after a run— decreasing tension when it speeds up again.