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Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

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Paul Arden
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Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#1

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:18 pm

Hi chaps,

So I’ve just finished a Zoom lesson today - I thoroughly recommend giving these by the way. It’s fascinating. Anyway I had a problem with a very hand centric caster who cast very much by opening the elbow only. And it just wasn’t fluid.

We’ve been working on this for a little while and I’ve really been trying to bring his shoulder into play. We moved to distance last week but this week we were back to focussing on accuracy again because he was casting in his garden on not on the tennis courts...

Now when it came to shortening line in the air I could see he was having real control issues. It was then that I realised he was using the top of the hand to drive the rod and not the heel of the hand as I was doing. We changed his grip force to the heel of the hand and this had an immediate transformation into bringing the shoulder into play, it allowed a tighter loop on a shorter carry (something he was having a problem with; the change resulting in more translation, less rotation) and of course strip hauling became very much easier because it allowed him to relax his two top fingers.

Some months ago John was talking about blocking with the heel of the hand. It’s all there. A bit of a lightbulb moment. It’s something I really need to make much more of in the manual. I’ve been doing it myself for well over 20 years. What I had failed to realise, however, was how instrumental it is in utilising the shoulder.

And it’s also why our hands cramp up during Accuracy training! :D

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#2

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Mar 31, 2021 6:28 pm

Try this for an experiment. Imagine you are holding a rod and put the pressure between thumb and first finger. Natural movement is to thrust forward like stabbing someone. Change the grip to squeezing the bottom two fingers and the natural movement now is to pull down like yanking a toilet chain.

Of course there are other grips particularly for distance but I found this very interesting.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#3

Post by John Waters » Wed Mar 31, 2021 10:02 pm

It is the singular essential for precision casting Paul. It automatically sets up correct loop, trajectory, speed and shape. For precision, you need an instantaneous block, not a ssssttttttoooooopppppp. It is also fundamental to sighting and distance judgement.

An old trick from an old bloke who learnt to cast at a casting pool, not chucking fluff, but flies. :laugh:

John

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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#4

Post by Paul Arden » Thu Apr 01, 2021 5:50 am

It’s an interesting one John. And it makes me wonder if we should modify the grip but not in the way most people would expect. I know some board members have had problems with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which as I understand it would be a top hand pressure (thumb/forefinger/index finger). The general fix has been a larger grip.

But when I look at the two lower fingers gripping the rod I think a larger grip at this position forces us to apply greater force, which is why our hand cramps with accuracy (at least mine does when using relatively stiff rods). I wonder if a grip size that would fit comfortably in the curve of these two lower fingers would not be better? A thinner grip would also allow us to reposition our thumb from behind the forefinger to behind the index finger, which I think would be excellent for turning the Rod over with the “cradle” grip.

Have you done much experimenting with grip shape?

Cheers, Paul
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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#5

Post by John Waters » Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:58 am

I have Paul. I have a large hand but do not use large diameter grips. Irrespective of whether I make the grip from scratch or use a rod with a grip affixed, I shave the bottom depression to make it more pronounced so that I can better utilise the hand block. I have never had any carpal tunnel issues and only had two slight issues with tennis elbow over many decades of casting. The two tennis elbow episodes were quickly corrected with cortisone and resulted from using weights incorrectly, not casting. I may have just been lucky but I am convinced that a shallower back end depression, of either a single or full wells formatted grip, is conducive to better arm health.

John

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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#6

Post by George C » Thu Apr 01, 2021 11:09 am

A guy named Powell, one of the most gifted fly rod builders to have ever lived, was on to this about 100 years ago.
My sense is that it is not just the narrow lower grip that is important but also the higher swell position that seems to act as a fulcrum. The first and second rods demonstrate it best.
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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#7

Post by Paul Arden » Thu Apr 01, 2021 12:51 pm

My thoughts in the lower section is about 2cm. I agree that the upper swell could be beneficial but I’ve always naturally used the thumb bent and angled towards the first finger. That would still need quite a narrow grip. I don’t hold the rod in the palm but in curve of the fingers.
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Re: Accuracy, heel of hand, blocking, pulling

#8

Post by John Waters » Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:22 pm

John Waters wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:58 am

I may have just been lucky but I am convinced that a shallower back end depression, of either a single or full wells formatted grip, is conducive to better arm health.

John
That sentence should read,

I may have just been lucky but I am convinced that a deeper back end depression, of either a single or full wells formatted grip, is conducive to better arm health.

What I meant to convey by "shallower" was that I reduce the diameter of the total profile of the back end of the grip, so the depression is shallower. On reading it again, my description failed abysmally and was confusing. Apologies for that. For all my rods I reduce the diameter of the total grip as well as deepening the back end depression skewing that depression to the right side and top of the grip. I am a right handed caster.

John

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