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“Whoosh” and other sensations

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Dirk le Roux
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Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:09 pm
Location: Pretoria, South Africa

“Whoosh” and other sensations

#1

Post by Dirk le Roux » Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:57 pm

Hi all

I recently learned to cast left-handed. Initially lacking that left-handed muscle memory, coordination and timing gave me a new appreciation of the challenges beginners face, :oh: by the way.

Once I progressed past beginner-level hauled casting, it felt like I hit a wall, unable to near the efficiency and authority that my right-handed cast has, especially on the forward cast. It was hard to visually diagnose where movement and timing still erred most, aided by that sometimes treacherous mind's eye. So I turned to SOUND and FEEL, initially following Joan Wulff's advice of casting with eyes closed.

Left-handed casting had a lot of "whoosh" sound from the rod whereas right-handed, the rod is quiet except for the friction sound of line hauled through the guides, plus perhaps a faint, sharp "phweep" of the rod tip right around RSP. The line sings when casting right-handed, with the better casts producing a "shweeeeiitt" sound, out there, just before line-straight.

Left-handed casting lacked that slinging, "heavy" feel which the right-handed cast has. Correctly or not, I figured the "whoosh" comes from subtly rushing the stroke, chasing but never quite reaching that "heavy" feeling, that sense of engagement.

I now had something to work on – eliminate the whoosh while/by honing that heavy feeling.


Concentrating on later acceleration and later hauling during run-of-the-mill exercises did improve matters. Still, I felt the situation called for more finesse-targeted drills. Further, I thought that the tasks to focus on should be the ones offering little "pre-load" (to encourage learning to "create" tension/load/heaviness), or they should present challenging situations which invite whooshing. The following three drills were most helpful and possibly could be to you as well:

Half-a-backcast: Mel Krieger in "The Essence of Flycasting" (at 37:10) asks John Goddard about his "halfway backcast" where space is limited. They didn't go into it much, though the concept set me trying it out. I have no idea what Goddard's half-a-backcast looks like, but the way I do it is like a sideways-starting Belgian PUALD cast emphasizing backcast laziness. It feels like before you "go" on the forward cast, the line just sits there in a wide airborne arc. Apart from its obvious fishing utility, this cast teaches me to maintain slight but continuous tension leading smoothly into the shot, unrushed acceleration and how to feel for readiness to "hit it". Include hauling.

A modification of Peter Hayes' lean-tap-squeeze-and-flip: With the line out front (starting with two rod-lengths), raise the rod tip as you would for lawn roll casting, but to no more than the vertical, no line behind. From there, practice the lean-tap-squeeze-and-flip. Tip – feel first for the rod's inertia in your hand. Note also a small D-loop soon developing as the rod tip moves forward. Don't whoosh. With practice, you should be able to achieve full leader extension. Once you can do that, add a little haul to the squeeze-and-flip moment and aim for the haul at least not to detract from the extension you can achieve without it. Now, any roll cast beginning with some line behind the rod tip should be a piece of cake.

Straight-overhead V-casting: The version of off-shoulder casting where your head fits in the V between the rod butt and the line between hand and stripping guide. Hauled PUALD or false casting, the rod tip (and line) path should be directly over your head. I practice this one as it is the cast that most urges me to whoosh the rod, probably for fear that delaying the forward stroke's business part will cause the fly to hit the back of one's head. It also encourages tailing, which I believe to be a close relative to whoosh.

What other feelings or sounds can we use to diagnose our casting and how to attain the desirable ones or eradicate the undesirables?

Cheers,
Dirk

Geenomad
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Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#2

Post by Geenomad » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:07 am

Hi Dirk
I've thought about learning to cast on my non dominant right side but have never made a sustained effort to do it probably because backhand takes care of that stuff well enough. Good on you for trying. Not sure what level of proficiency you are aiming for but a few thoughts based on my reading of Sensory Motor research.

I'm certainly with you on noticing and reinforcing what it feels like to cast nicely. We do it with our bodies and we need to be in them at the time - rather than confined to our heads. :) Technically, learning to cast (well) off either side means trying to shift the driver of the movements from the cognitive neural processes to the more unconscious and automatic neural processes which work faster and more accurately at speed. Of course the dominant side has more practice at making this shift and probably more neural circuitry (not just the brain btw) devoted to the work. Unless you are "naturally" ambidextrous the non dominant side will always be "weaker".

Getting back to feeling (and leaving out a long dissertation on being in touch with ones body and its movement) I have found that fault finding is one thing and sensory motor learning is very much another. For example, if I want to correct and automate my tracking and tracing I use the metaphor of using my rod tip as a sharp knife cutting through cloth material. The sky is the cloth. I want the cut to be smooth, straight and clean - back cast or forward cast. I have abbreviated the metaphor to "cut the cloth". This approach lines up with the benefits of using an external approach - focussing on what the body needs to do as opposed to an internal focus on how the body should be doing it. For refined movement that is repetitive cognitive processes are clutter and our job is to get them out of the way as soon as and to the greatest extent possible. The unconscious is The Force. :cool: Details are on my web site. :D

If casting technique were a necklace the sensory motor system would be the string, not one of the pearls.

Cheers
Mark
"The line of beauty is the result of perfect economy." R. W. Emerson.
https://thecuriousflycaster.com

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SevenWeight
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Location: Homosassa, Florida

Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#3

Post by SevenWeight » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:18 am

In my case, as I prepare for a forward cast, I return the line/hauling hand to within a few inches of the rod hand and then try to fuse the two hands together mentally. I try to imagine that the resistance of the rod and line are too great for one hand and that I have to heave the rod and line forward as if I had a sack of flour slung over my shoulder and was trying to flip it forward. Of course the hands separate again to start the forward haul. I think unifying the hands this way helps to reduce creep and smooth out the forward cast acceleration. I then try for the fullest possible separation of the two hands and to time the "power snap" and a final snap of the wrist of the hauling arm to happen simultaneously (I don't know if that's what really happens, but it sure feels good when timed right). These things are really helping me and give me something to focus on other than the fish I'm trying to feed.

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Paul Arden
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Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#4

Post by Paul Arden » Sat Jun 06, 2020 11:01 am

Hi Dirk,

Great post! For me learning the left hand cast and right hand hauling was all about mirroring from the opposite side. I would concentrate on backcasts only. Right hand backcast - drop the line - left hand backcast and so on. Same with hauling.

I am convinced that one of my problems with the 170 style left hand is I’m right eyed dominant and the nose gets in the way of sighting the line/target. To sight I therefore turn the body more and this creates a problem. I have experimented with an eye-patch in the past and plan to do more of this again in the future.

One of the issues that we all have is our backhand cast is normally quite well developed. I’m as comfortable throwing backhand as I am forehand, as accurate (or near as damn-it) and while not as long, certainly longer than left handed.

Many years ago, when I was a rugby player, it was important to be able to spin pass equally well left and right directions. I used to train every day with the scrum half, we would spend hours throwing the ball around. I always remember when he developed his left hand pass he told me that he was making a conscious effort to use his left hand for jobs that would normally be right handed - holding the knife, cleaning cups, basically everything.

Years later I thought about this and in order for me to learn left handed casting I practised throwing stones with my left hand, using my right hand to teach me. So I strongly believe that the more you can use your left hand in every day life, the more natural it will feel when Flycasting.

Incidentally I know this didn’t answer your question - I’m still thinking about that answer :p

Cheers, Paul
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

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Mangrove Cuckoo
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Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#5

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:50 pm

From personal experience, I would caution anyone trying to develop casting with the "other" hand to be very careful.

I have cast with both hands for years. It was an easy transition for me as I taught myself as a child to cast revolving spool traditional fishing reels with my left hand. I found being able to cast a flyrod with either hand to be very beneficial when fishing.

Then, over a year ago, I got cocky and decided to graduate from fishing oriented casting to distance casting with my left hand.

The tendonitis I now have in my left forearm has yet to subside. Only recently have I attempted a few short casts with my left hand. Things seem to be improving but I will not push it until there is no pain what so ever. Being able to fly cast with either hand is a true luxury, and I feel limited without it.

So... be very careful not to overdo it. If you are like me, the muscles of your off hand are probably not accustomed to a lot of use.
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

Wallace Stevens

Dirk le Roux
Posts: 482
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:09 pm
Location: Pretoria, South Africa

Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#6

Post by Dirk le Roux » Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:40 am

Mark, thanks for the fascinating food for thought. I always enjoy reading your web site pieces. Though, I must admit I have in the past merely scanned over the biomechanics and sensory motor learning sections :blush: probably the way some may treat physics stuff. Since I embarked on this learning afresh quest, the appreciation is beginning to change. And your last blog post does hit the spot in my view.

Level of proficiency? Casually at this stage, I am inspired by Lasse's Vimeo clip throwing at a target 100ft out :ninja: Thanks to Gary's warning I would be cool with not getting there if the alarms go off beforehand. Left-handed curve casts, however, I would like to master, if only for the challenge and neural spin-offs. Oddly, it seems that my right-handed casting has passively benefitted from all this left-handed training.

SevenWeight, yes, these mental images can be beneficial. There recently was a thread (Aide memoires) dedicated on this sort of thing. My country has kleilat (clay-stick - flicking clay lumped around the tip of a flexible stick, often at another person as target), which is a very relatable image for Saffas learning fly casting.

Paul, as with the hours spent on your rugby training, putting in the time and having something at all to focus on may be more valuable than the approach taken or what the identified drills actually are, as long as these are in the ballpark. The difference of "sounds and feels" just stood out more strongly to me than differences in mimicking my right-handed casting. I think even careful video analysis would not as easily have identified these issues for me.

Cheers,
Dirk

Geenomad
Posts: 436
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:11 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#7

Post by Geenomad » Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:45 am

Thanks for positive feedback Dirk. Glad it offered you something. Yes the effort by Lasse off his left side is remarkable and a tribute to his technique off the dominant side. Ambition to follow suit is not to be sneezed at. :D

I love the conjunction of art and science. In casting Grace is their love child.

Cheers
Mark
"The line of beauty is the result of perfect economy." R. W. Emerson.
https://thecuriousflycaster.com

John Waters
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Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#8

Post by John Waters » Sun Jun 07, 2020 10:44 pm

As always, an interesting discussion. It is great to have the opportunity to read everyone's comments on casting through Sexyloops, love it. Like all physical activity, casting has a number of zones into which speed can be categorised and the language reflects those categories. Optimal levels of performance can be reflected by a "swoosh" meter. The level of "swoosh" depends on the casting objective, but a generalisation is for short line casting "swoosh" indicates too much and for long line casting "swoosh" too little.

John

Mangrove Cuckoo
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Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:51 am

Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#9

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:18 am

John

Man, I was with you right up to that last bit... long cast with "swoosh" = too little!

I have always thought a cast where the input is balanced creates very little sound.

I have stood next to some very long casters, and even when they hit a good one I hear very little. What is curious is that when watching videos there is sometimes a definite whistling sound associated with long casts. Since I never heard that sound when I cast I thought I must somehow not be making the grade.

But when I was videoed the whistling sound was quite apparent. I chalked that up to the microphones on cameras.

Is that what you are referring to? And, if so, do you hear it with your ears or only when recorded? I must admit I have attended very few competitions.
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

Wallace Stevens

John Waters
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Re: “Whoosh” and other sensations

#10

Post by John Waters » Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:04 am

Apologies Mangrove, I should have been more expansive with my statement about "whoosh" and distance casting technique. I should have said that for distance casting, you cannot have enough "swoosh" - the more the better. The only caveat is that generating greater speed requires control, no different from any other throwing sport that requires the body to generate compounding speed, culminating in wrist turnover. The fact is that if you rotate the body segments in the correct sequence, the compounding result is always smooth and controlled. It is natural. Lack of control always, and only, occurs when that sequential chain of movement is applied incorrectly. Hence the difference between an arm centric technique and a body centric technique. As an observer, you can differentiate the difference between arm and body techniques by the "swoosh". As Charlie Watts would say, the sound is important but the essence is how you generate it. You can hear it when you cast and also when watching others, and it is also audible on video. It is a little used, but powerful casting aid. More audible with heavier gear, but present on the light stuff as well.

When I grow up I want to be Charlie Watts,

John

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