What I think of

What I think of

Tracy&James | Sunday, 11 October 2020

For this FP I thought I’d carry on with the same theme as I wrote about last week, i.e. the physics definition of the line that has been fly cast, and whether it actually matters. Now, getting the physics right is important if you have a genuine academic interest in explaining how a line rolls out. But does changing your hypothesis on how things work change how you cast or the outcome of your efforts as has been recently suggested on the board?

My observations on this lead me to a resounding ‘no’ as an answer.  Firstly I’ll mention some of the sublime casters that I’ve had the pleasure of watching and talking to.  Some of these really couldn’t care less about physics.  They’re more than happy to bang out huge casts or make astoundingly well controlled and accurate presentation casts, but mention Newton to them and they glaze over and start edging away.

Then there are the ones that have the physics completely wrong e.g. the big springers.  The thing with these people is that, despite having not updated their thinking, they can still cast.  In fact some of them can still cast great – how’s that possible with such a poor grasp of physics?  It’s possible of course because casting isn’t an academic activity, it’s a practical one.

I’ve been considering what I think about when casting; this has two very different answers depending on whether I’m fishing or in a casting competition.  When fishing my approach is quite straight forward – where do I want to put the fly and where, and in what configuration, do I want the fly line to be?  That’s it, no physics, no is this a wave, a loop, a curve? etc. type thoughts.  Just put the fly there and hopefully catch a fish.

One of my most memorable examples of this was a couple of years back in the Bahamas when I spotted a quite nice sized shark come out of a deep area up on to the flat I was fishing.  At the time I had my bonefish rod in my hand with my predator rod stored across my bumbag (I have some elasticated cord loops that help hold it there).  I could have reeled in my bonefish rod (I don’t like just throwing it down into the water), swapped rods over, peeled the line off the heavy outfit, adjusted the drag and made a 90ft shot.  Instead I decided that the best place for my fly was 100 metres away.  As such, I waded to shore, stowed my bonefish rod and bumbag in a tree and then sprinted 100m down the beach.  I then waded out to the same gulley that the shark had begun cruising down and had what felt like an age to get prepared and put the fly exactly where I wanted it once the fish had been re-spotted.  The take on the second strip confirmed to me that I’d made the right decision when I first spotted the shark.

Ok, so competition casting is a different prospect altogether, none of the fishy distractions, so this is where the physics is going to come in right?  Well not for me.  I’ll take you through a few of my thoughts when preparing for a competition cast; firstly is my fly at my pick-up point – on water I’ll know which marker buoy I’ll start from, over grass I’ll often throw a cap down to act as a marker for me.  Next I’ll think about my weight; is it forward, are my knees bent and are my legs relaxed?  The checks then move to my hands, are they also relaxed, is my rod hand stretched out in front of me, is my hauling hand in the correct orientation in which to make a great haul?  Now all this is before I’ve even moved the fly.  I could go into all the details I’m ticking off my checklist as I make my best effort to throw as far as I can but I don’t think it will add anything here other than to confirm I absolutely do not consider loops, waves, curves etc.  I do, of course, watch the line intently during the false casts and I make adjustments according to what I see, but again I’m not considering physics here – I’m just casting.

As such, when I read statements that imply that casting performance can be changed according to how you think about the ‘physics’ I find it implausible, because for me anyway, those thoughts couldn’t be further from my mind when actually performing the task.

Have a great week,