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practicing with ultra soft fly rods

This article was also published in The Loop Magazine 2017, April to July edition (page 13 and 14):



Near the end of the year 2007 I took a private fly casting course with Uwe Rieder from Austria. After seeing my cast he stated that I could improve it by practicing with soft fly rods without double hauling. I agreed to try this of course. Uwe then provided me not with a soft fly rod but with an ultra soft one from Vision (I don‘t remember the name exactly, but I guess it was a „mirage“ – due to its softness it was not available commercially). This fly rod was so soft, that the tip of the fly rod could almost be deflected towards its grip („grip action“ – see picture with Uwe). My first casts with this fly rod were lousy, since my motions were used to much stiffer rods, but as time went by I was able to adjust my motions and I elongated my casting path. This longer casting path enabled a slow and continuous increase of the deflection of the fly rod that is vital for softer fly rods and my results steadily improved. My preferred way to cast with an almost „closed wrist“ helped me a lot during these exercises. By the way, as with other superb casters, Uwe uses very little wrist actively.

Uwe made the following comment, “Tobias, there are a lot of superb casters out there that have problems casting a longer fly line with a soft fly rod. The soft fly rod indicates who can cast really well. The soft rod separates the wheat from the chaff.“

Shortly after returning to Berlin I snapped the softest fly rod I had (which I was going to sell before I finished my course with Uwe) but exercised with this very soft rod periodically for about one year.

My practice sessions with the soft rod always started by putting the fly line stretched on the meadow. As Uwe showed me I started my casting motion from my upper body followed by the shoulder and the upper arm last. The elbow always precedes the cast, which causes a significant translatory motion. When I wasn’t able to move my elbow further, the rotary motion started to prevail.

My first time practicing this was hard. I often started the rotary motion too early, which caused vibration in my soft fly rod leading to waves in the fly line. This especially happened on my forward cast. As I understood that on the one hand my elbow didn’t precede long enough and on the other hand I forced the rotary motion too much, my casting with this soft fly rod improved more and more.

After a couple of these training sessions I felt the highest effort I needed to apply into the grip was for a very short moment around the vertical position of the grip. During the rotatory motion between the vertical position and the end position of the grip I was able to reduce my pressure on the grip since the fly rod has a kind of “self dynamic” – which means that though the upper mass elements are still gaining velocity less effort at the grip is needed.

I‘m convinced that these exercises improved my casting stroke and I found it much easier to use stiffer fly rods after making these adjustments.

Thanks to Walter Simbirski for optimizing my english.

The above descibed practicing with ultra soft fly rods is useful to trigger the redistribution properties shown with short words in the following video:

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