Mel’s Pulling Through Stroke

Mel's pulling through
Mel Krieger demonstrating his “pulling” concept

Not so long ago endless debates about the pushing versus pulling casting “styles” were the norm. Currently it is a much rarely discussed subject, though it keeps appearing now and then. That issue always was the source of many doubts, the following is my take on it.

Mel Krieger’s concept of a “pulling” stroke as opposed to a “pushing” one wasn’t intended as a way of telling apart two different casting styles, it was coined to describe any good casting stroke whatever the style used. For him the reference wasn’t the line but the rod: pulling the rod versus pushing it. In that regard, if you rotate the rod at the start of the casting stroke the rod is in front of your hand for the rest of the motion, so you are pushing it. Conversely, if you leave rotation for the end of the stroke the rod travels behind your hand, so you are pulling it. In summary, you should “pull through” when using an “elbow up-down” style, as much as when using an “elbow backward-forward” one.

Pulling was the term Mel chose to convey the idea of leaving for the end of the stroke as much of the rod rotation as possible. So –using two other Mel’s concepts– “pulling” isn’t a style, it is substance; “pushing” isn’t a style, it is a fault.

Here is a graphic representation of this issue

The gif above shows the paradox posed by the interpretation of “pulling” as just an stylistic issue: Mel himself is showing what he meant by “pulling through” while performing a cast that some instructors would still define as “pushing”.

Better to let Mel explain himself about the “pulling” concept, and what the gif above is showing (bold is mine):

“In the pull through casting stroke, the casting hand precedes the rod tip through most of the casting stroke and the turnover and stop take place only at the end of the casting stroke… Lay out 70 or so feet of fly line on a lawn behind you, fly rod pointing to the fly, and throw a javelin, turning the rod over only at the very end of the throw. You may be pleasantly surprised with this extreme pull through casting motion.

3 comments on “Mel’s Pulling Through Stroke

  1. Nils Maehle says:

    agree. And this is how we though about and used those terms when I was active as a tournament caster back in the late 70s. Pushing was a fault that robbed us of distance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aitor says:

      In my view, rotation delayed up to the end of the stroke is common to all throwing activities. Calling it “pulling” while demonstrating an elbow forward style added a lot of confusion.
      I think that this performance by Mel himself clears things up.


      • Nils Maehle says:

        Aitor, we used the term pulling and pushing both with regards to how you moved the rod (tip) and the hand. Our ideal model for the tournament distance casting stroke was javelin, in contrast to say boxing where you push your hand forward in front of your body. A pulling tournament distance casting stoke is one where you lead with your body, including the hip, shoulder, upper arm and elbow, and rotate the arm, hand, and rod towards the end of the stroke as nicely demonstrated by Mel in that gif. There may be a bit of “pushing” the hand forward as you straighten the arm during the (late) rotation but that doesn’t make it into a pushing stroke. I assume Mel used those terms similarly to us, but don’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

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