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.

Mel’s Pulling Through Stroke

Mel's pulling through

Mel Krieger’s concept of a “pulling” stroke as opposed to a “pushing” one wasn’t intended as a way of differentiating two different casting styles, it was coined to describe any good casting stroke whatever the style used. So 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. In summary (and using two other Mel’s concepts) “pulling” isn’t a style, it is substance; “pushing” isn’t a style, it is a fault.

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.