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Unified Theory of casting :-)

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Berlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:06 pm

Ok, this is probably going to put a few cats amongst a lot of pigeons :-)

About a decade ago I disappeared from the board. I had some stuff to work on and having tried to explain it at the time and having to convince 47 people all coming at you at the same time wasn't the easiest way to explain a new theory. So lets try again.
I've now spent 16 years working on this stuff and have a much clearer understanding of it.

I was standing right here one evening, casting sublime loops with a Sage XP 10ft 5 weight when all of the pieces of a puzzle I'd been working on finally all fell into place.

I was so excited that I stopped fishing and just sat on a log for about two hours applying what I'd just found out to every single casting situation i could think of. One theory fit them all. I was so excited I went back to my tent to think about it more. At about 12.30 in the morning, mind still racing i jumped in the car (in my underpants) and drove out of the lake district to find a mobile signal to text Paul about it. He was in NZ at the time.

Having stepped back from the board to concentrate on this full time, I continued to apply this theory, not only to my own casting but to try and implement it in teaching. it worked. i could get someone the same results in an hour with this new stuff than it took in a day before.

What if I told you there are only two parts of the cast you have to think about. Just two. Get these two right and *everything* else falls into place. No tailing loops, no tracking issues, the ability to change rods and cast a perfect loop with that rod first cast, the ability to ull off sublime roll cast, snake rolls, switch casts, puddle casts, to be able to self analise, to be able to time the haul perfectly and most importantly to reduce the power in a cast so that there isn't any.. at all.

At the BFCC, I applied this stuff and won everything. It got boring. show up, win everything. go home. So I started to give it to my competitors so there as at least a challenge.

Fast forward a decade and I've now had the chance to apply this to every cast I can think of in every situation i can think of with every rod, reel and line I can think of. Its the same for every one. A unified theory for every cast, rod and situation.

It allows you to analyse loops with ease, even from a description. You don't need to be able to see them. (it helps). This eventually earned the nickname "Carl's psychic casting clinic" as I was fixing peoples casting by Email. :-)

So how did I stumble on it? Well there were lots of things. When I qualified in early 2000's as an FFFCI the potted answers we were supposed to give to potted questions didn't make sense. The explanations for why a loop travels like an aeroplane in a strong cross wind didn't make sense. Why does a loop top leg flap like its in the wind if its supposed to have the driving momentum and a whole lot more. So I had to find out why it didn't make sense.

(I'm fishing Thursday and Friday so I'll try and get explanatory videos done of the rudimentary stuff then)

So what are these two parts that we have to worry about?
1) tension
2) stop

That's it. if you look at casting from the point of view of only those two areas, nothing else matters. Those two can explain everything in casting, rods, lines, leaders, faults and problems. it all comes down to those two.

OK, explanation, this is going to be a wild ride :-)

My new definition if casting is "Pull the line tight, flick a wave into it. One wave.
The wave is the point. it pulls the line to wherever that wave is going and the line has to go through it. The tighter the line the faster the wave (point) travels. Minute increases in tension make a huge difference. The more tension we have the less power is needed. It also allows you to control where the tension comes from and every increase in tension means a decrease in power required. The tension only has to be above the level where the wave reaches the end of the line. any more is a waste. if the loop collapses during a cast its because there wasn't enough tension or the wave you generated wasn't strong enough.
If there are *any* other waves in the line bar the point, its a casting fault and easily remedied. What caused the extra wave? Tip bounce (too tight a grip) top leg wrinkles, (too tight a loop). Square fronted loop (too early a peak on the haul) Big wrinkle in a sakgit or shooting head (too much overhang). Collapse cast (not enough tension) Basically, every fault gives a wrinkle that should't be there. Or inappropriate addition of tension makes the loop do something you don't want it to.

In the loop above you can see various casting faults. All of these can be fixed by using tension and stop as the analysis method.
The tailing loop was caused by using too much power. All you need to do is pull the line tight. That's all. Nothing more.
The A and B are peaks of "power". A is the wave from the rod and B is the wave from the end of the haul, which happened early.
The wiggles are from too tight a grip and are adding extra waves. you don't need to hold the rod tight because that adds more waves.
The open loop is from Arc and stroke being together and not separate. The tension and wave are mixed. Casting is pulling the line tight (stroke) and arc is flicking the wave into the line. Two separate thinks, they need to be separate. And this goes on for every wrinkle and situation there is. The loop tells you everything you need to know. Every wrinkle, shape, nuance has an effect that can be remedied by looking at tension and stop.

Now I deliberately don;t want this to end up as a Physics fest because 1) it doesn't need to be. 2) I want everyone to be able to understand all of this.

Over the next few million pages I'm going to try and explain how this works in every single casting situation, AFTMA Line ratings, how to get sneaky tension, how you can share tension between hands, how it appies to rods, how it applies to lines and how it applies to the double haul and how, as long as we have an excess of tension that allows the wave to reach the end of the line (or not, depending on whether we want it to) you can add the tension *during* the stroke or After* the stroke! I know! its mad! :-)

I'm going to be typing for at least a month of this :-) What am I doing? I could be fishing! :-)

But first, I have to go to work. Back later... :-)

BTW, I don't care if you don't believe it. I don't care if you don't want to accept it. I learnt this stuff for me but I do care that those that want to learn it can learn it. So lets keep it simple :-)

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Merlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:05 pm

Great Carl

Tell us more when you are back from steelheading. It looks amazing.

Many thanks in advance.

Fly rods are like women, they won't play if they're maltreated
Charles Ritz, A Flyfisher's Life

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Berlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:20 pm

Sorry if that last bit sounds arrogant or condescending. It's as much for my sanity as it is about caring. Last time I cared too much. :-)

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Paul Arden » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:38 pm

:D :D Welcome back Carl!! :cool:
It's an exploration; bring a flyrod.

Flycasting Definitions

Neil Owens
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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Neil Owens » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:47 pm

Making sense to me so far - I can completely releate my current difficulties with your explanations.

Can't wait for 'episode 2' :-)

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Neil Owens » Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:21 pm

And what's the lake? Buttermere?

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Berlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:29 pm

Yup, Buttermere :-)

OK , here we go!

The Power of X

That's as scientific as I'm ever going to get formula wise. :-) It doesn't have to be an X, it could be a banana, or a very small packet of Werthers originals. Its a thing. a point. a level.

The "power of X" is the amount of tension required in a line to transmit the wave (point). Less than the power of X and the line falls from the sky. The wave can't transmit down the line. Anything over the power of X and the wave reaches the end.

If we make pick up and laydown casts repeatedly, using a high stop and NOT dropping the rod tip (cheating) and with each cast reduce the power each time until the line just falls out of the air. we eventually, because its really, really difficult to do, get a loop that doesn't turn over. it just stalls. if we drop the tip, we are reducing tension (cheating) to make it happen. that's easy. You are deliberately reducing X. but to cast where there's only *Just* enough tension to turn the loop over is very difficult. This is because rods and lines are designed to make it happen. They are very good at doing this. we are deliberately trying to stop it doing what its designed to to.

Anything more than the power of X is a waste. Adding 5% more tension than you need to turn a loop over is all you ever need to make a cast. As i said earlier, if you have a loop that collapses without turning over, you are simply lacking tension in the bottom leg of the loop. Or you are really special and didn't get the rod to unbend, which is very difficult.

So fly casting is pulling a line tight and flicking a wave into it. That's all. If we pull it tight enough for the wave to get to the end. its a cast.

OK, next exercise. Tie your line to a house brick or similar lying on the ground about 10-15 yards in front of you and get into the roll cast position with the line. Have the line hanging down beside you and arcing away to the brick. Next. try flicking *tiny* mends into the line and see what happens. you want to be moving the rod as little as possible. The mends will travel down the line towards the brick. They might not make it all the way but all we are looking for is tiny mends. If youre struggling with this, you can make them by tapping the rod with your line had finger. That's all you need. anything that sends a shock wave up the rod.

Ok, so we've got these mends going and they usually roll down the line to the grass. Next, as part of the mend, do a *tiny* pull back on the rod. This might even be just a little lift of your hand and see what happens to those mends. Yup, they now travel all the way to the end of the line. Practice making one go to the bring and the next fail half way, then to the brink and then one fail. Notice the way a tiny increase in tension makes the mend reach the end.


What we are trying to do here is establish the speed of the mend travelling down the line purely due to tension. More tension, it travels faster, less tension, it travels slower. Not enough tension, it dies.

So now we have a very rudimentary relationship. more tension, faster wave. Now this is nothing new. Guitar strings have been doing it for eons. But you've just seen it (and felt it) with a fly rod.

I used to teach this by having two guys stand on each others fly lines and get each other to Whip the opponent with a mend across the shins using just pullback. They soon got it and it was evil fun :-)

Ok, next we get rid of the house brick and do it again. Much more difficult as the line is now free to move. But still possible if the mends are small enough. What will happen this time is the mends you add pullback to will pick the fly line up and turn it over. The ones you reduce tension on, the wave just dies. as we keep adding tension (pullback) you can get the loop to look more and more like a roll cast. I know this is super simple stuff but its best to cover things from the very basics up.

Now if you take a few steps forward to an actual roll cast position and to this you get a roll cast. But the important thing to mote is, that you can either make the roll cast by using stroke to add the power of X (tension. Pull the line tight, flick a wave into it), or pullback to add tension. It matters not when the tension is added. The wave still reaches the end. this is very important for later on. You can also sue a ratio of the two. Some stroke and some pullback. As long as there's enough tension for the wave to reach the end of the line we're good to go.

Ok, what else does this mean. well lets jump ahead to Double hauling shall we. Not for long though. Never, have I read anything, anywhere that you do not ADD a double haul to the stroke. The stroke is already provinging more than the power of X so adding more is pointless.

We *Share* the stroke with the hauling to produce the power of X. We split the power of X between the stroke and the haul. The fact that we can add *more* is a bonus... for later.

Ok, Back to the "pulling the line tight and flicking a wave into into it" thing. Imagine a back cast that's fully extended behind us and we are about to come forward. All we are adding is enough tension so that when we stop and the wave from the rod enters the line, there's enough to get it to the end. So mow much are you going to pull? We saw with the first exercise that anything more than nothing gets the loop to turn over. So the Old smooth acceleration to a crisp stop is now a very gentle pull. and asl long as that pull continues to increase, its enough. So how can we possible add enough power, thinking about it that way to ever cause a tailing loop? How are we ever going to have a tracking problem because all we are doing is bringing the rod forwards? There's absolutely no effort involved. You're only pulling a line tight.

But the line is already tight from the back cast, so basically, we're just keeping it tight. So our statement about pulling the line tight is actually keeping the line tight.

Interesting Hu? :-)

next bit.. I'm typing as fast as I can here...

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Berlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:40 pm

Right, the wave part.

A rod is a wave generator.
Actually, no its not. a rod is a wave amplifier. The wave comes from you.

When we cast, we lead with the reel. we set up our hand to lead and then turn it over at the end. this is a wave.
I've become obsessed with waves. They're everywhere. ;-)
if we hit the rod it makes a shock wave. if we move our hand up and down or side to side it makes a wave. If we move our hand a small amount, the great big wiggly stick we have in it, makes that wave bigger. It accentuates it. Because its flexible we can use it to store energy (wave energy) that we can then flick out of it. (I'm keeping things basic here)

When we bend a rod it wants to unbend and this is a wave. any and all wrinkles, in a fly line are waves. We have deliberate waves and non deliberate waves. The point is a deliberate wave. Tip bounce and recoil etc are non deliberate waves. You can lie a rod down and it'll never do anything but if we grasp it and move it, we're making waves.

When we make a forward cast we are making a wave in the rod (half a sine wave) that we then flick out into the line. A mend is a wave, a wiggle cast is a series of waves, etc.

Ok, so what? Well, by moving a rod and then stopping it we make a wave. This is the lesser of the two parts. Making waves is easy. Making one distinct wave is not, especially with softer bamboo and FG rods. This is where casting faults come in. If you are gripping the rod too tightly, or shocking the rod in any way or not dampening the rod after the wave we want is out of it, then these all lead to various wiggles in the line. The skill here is to have the wave we want and get rid of the waves we don't.

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Berlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:52 pm

The wave will go where you flick it.
Once you've given a wave a path to follow, nothing will deviate it from that path. Imagine an apple that isn't affected by gravity on the tip of your rod. if you flick it off your rod it will continue on that path. Wind doesn't affect it either. it has neither mass nor air resistance. The wave in the line has the same properties. Once on it journey, nothing can affect the wave except lack of tension.

Now if we look at a situation where we have a line that it fixed at the end and cannot move, the wave is forced to follow the line, It wants to go straight but because its in the line it will try and travel forwards but the line forces it to follow its path. (remember those mends from above? they are travelling forwards but travel down the line in an arc. But they want to travel straight. if we release the end of the line, they can then do that and the wave dominates and lifts the line. The wave is free to travel to its target and takes the line with it... as long as there's enough tension.

So, we pull the line tight (keep the line tight) and flick this wave into it. The wave travels in a straight line to its target and because the end of the line is free to move the wave takes the line with it. The line must pass through the wave. Simples! :-)

There's a fantastic animation online somewhere that I'll be damned if I can find at the moment that shows this. maybe if someone recognises the following picture, they could provide a link?

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Unified Theory of casting :-)


Post by Berlin » Wed Dec 21, 2016 10:55 pm

Just realised the image in the posts a few above didn't work and it won't let me edit it so here it is.

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