Fly Casting Ergonomics

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Fly Fishing Instructor - ergonomics, grip and stances for fly fishing

Ergonomics of casting

Recommended Recommended V grip
Recommended V grip
Thumb on top
Thumb on top
Three point grip
Three point grip

Fly casting instructors do not have the ability to know how another person’s body works or feels but there are certain principles to be observed. Most of us do not like working with our hands held high or even with them extended from our bodies to the side. The further we stretch the less capable we are of accurate and smooth movements and therefore for fly casting it is much better to adopt a compact and accurate style than an open style. For most of us, employing our hands between waist and shoulder height and using the powerful upper arm muscles to cast provides the most efficient accelerating and stopping power. Wrists can be used in a limited manner to “fine tune” motion but they are not capable of making good casts on their own. A tight grip on the rod or line will cause muscle tension and pain in addition to the likelihood of putting too much energy into casting and allowing the rod to vibrate, sending waves down the fly line.

Grip - "holding" a single handed fly rod

Descriptions relate to right handed casting. Recommended grip is with the thumb towards the top of the rod and slightly to the left of centre so that the 'V' between the thumb and the index finger aligns with the top of the rod. Your grip must feel comfortable and the diameter of the rod handle must be suitable for the size of your hand. The thumb may be placed directly on top of the rod and this is useful to stop or apply more pressure particularly for roll casting etc. Another grip is with the index finger on top of the rod and the second finger around the handle, the so called “three point grip”. Whatever grip you use depends on what you find comfortable and many accomplished casters vary their grip to suit the cast being used. It is a mistake to grip a fly rod too tight but it is essential to grip the rod firmly enough to ensure control. By modulating the grip during the cast it is possible to reduce oscillation e.g. when the rod is stopped. With practice it is possible to learn to intensify grip just as the rod is stopped and to relax between times to get a better 'feel' for the cast. If the grip is too tight the nerves in the hand are compressed sensitivity is lost so, for example, you won't feel the line straightening in the air and so you won't know when to commence the forward cast. Good casters “feel” their way through each cast and control the line very smoothly.

Closed and open stances
Closed and open stances

Stance - foot positioning

For example casting with the right hand and with the right foot is forward is the "orthodox stance". If the cast is being made backhanded i.e. using the right hand to cast over the left shoulder, the left shoulder and foot should be forward. Feet should be slightly apart giving a comfortable well balanced, relaxed and stable stance, allowing the angler to transfer body weight between the feet during the cast. This stance allows the angler to cast a fly rather like he might throw a dart by sighting along the hand so it is an accurate method. The “open stance” places the feet so that the left foot is forward when casting over the right shoulder. It is much used for distance casting because it is possible to make a longer stroke. It is essential that the shoulder is not turned during the forward casting stroke because that will cause the rod tip to make a curved path.

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