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Bruce Ajari: Casting technique outweighs length of fly rod

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

A few weeks ago I discussed ways to get a little extra distance on your fly casting. One of the suggestions was casting a slightly longer rod.

I have been casting a longer fly rod on my trips out to Pyramid Lake this winter and have been using a 9-foot-9-inch, No. 8 weight rod.

While this rod has been giving me the extra distance, about two months ago I began to develop some serious pain in my arm.

I could not figure out how I could have injured myself and I could not seem to get rid of the pain. Being somewhat analytical, I tried to figure out just what I have been doing differently in my life. For the life of me I could not think of anything.

Then while cleaning my fly rod from my previous trip to Pyramid, it dawned on me. The pain began about the time that I started to use the longer fly rod.

A longer rod would certainly place more stress on the wrist and forearms, which could in turn lead to soreness in the bicep. This past week I thought I would give my theory a test and use a standard 9-foot fly rod for my fishing.

From the very first cast, I could feel a marked difference in the way my casting felt, and subsequently my arm. I fished the entire day pain-free and appear to have no ill effects thus far.

So, a word of caution to those of you who may be considering buying a longer conventional casting fly rod. It could be hazardous to your health!

If you are going to look for extra distance and want a longer fly rod, get into two-handed spey casting rather than trying to cast a longer conventional fly rod. Spey casting does not put the stress on your casting arm because it is a two-handed technique.

The truth is that a good fly caster should be able to get plenty of distance with a 9-foot fly rod. As I have pointed out in the previous articles on fly casting, good technique is the key to successful fly casting.

An experienced fly fisherman should be able to cast farther with a 7-foot rod than a beginner would with one nine feet. This is simply because the experienced fly fisher has better casting technique.

Remember, fly casting is a matter of loading the fly rod in both directions and applying the power smoothly. Timing is much more important than brute strength. I always stress letting the fly rod do the work when I am teaching someone to cast.

Like anything else, the more practice you can get casting under the watchful eye of a more experienced person, the better you will become. There is no substitute for doing lots of casting.

Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.


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