No, not the neighbor down the street. This has to do
with fly casting.
Earlier this week my husband and I
were invited to go down to the Sage plant a few miles
from us to try out their new 'Casting Analyzer.' Sage's
Ned Hobson took us by the hand and explained how this
unique system works.
The Casting Analyzer depends on a MEMS,
(MicroElectroMechanical Systems); tiny mechanical devices
that are built onto semiconductor chips and are measured in
micrometers. In the research labs since the 1980s, MEMS
devices began to materialize as commercial products in
the mid-1990s. They are used to make pressure, temperature,
chemical and vibration sensors, light reflectors and switches
as well as accelerometers for airbags, vehicle control,
pacemakers and games.
A gyro is attached to the bottom of a specific fly rod calibrated
at this time for a Sage XP 9 foot, 5 weight. The gyro cord is
attached to the pod which accepts the data translated
from the rods action. The system and supporting software
uses a 'palm pilot' but will also be
available in a standup kiosk. The results with suggestions
on improving your own casting can be printed out so
you can take with you to work on later!
It is a personal casting instructor without an attitude or agenda.
How does it do that? The caster makes a series of just
'normal' casts with line, leader and practice fly using
a pre-measured 40 feet of line. No double haul, just normal
casting. The caster starts false casting and a tone rings
letting you know the 'start' and rings again when you are
to stop. Maybe a minute or two. That's it.
The system measures and records (and eventually compares
with a 'standard' cast) these components of your cast:
Cast Symmetry (the forward and backcast should be identical).
All of these factors are instantaneously measured with both
the forward and back cast. Absolutely amazing stuff.
Cast Arc (the ideal arc for a 40 foot cast is 65
degrees, wider produces an open loop.)
Creep (not sticking the backcast and starting forward
too soon, resulting in a incomplete casting stroke on the
forward cast.) See it really is in there.
Smoothness Ratio (speed up and stop as opposed
to abrupt power application which often causes tailing loops.)
Peak Speed (applying too much power too soon causing
Deceleration (this is the period of time it takes to
go from the speed-up to the point where you actually stop
the rod. Like putting the brakes on in your car, in this
case too slow and the caster loses the nice tight loop.)
Stop (the difference between and soft and 'hard' stop
- the harder stop gives tighter loops.)
Rod Load (the results of rod arc, peak speed, smoothness
ratio and stop data - which combine to show the efficiency of the cast.)
Just telling you what is measured doesn't give you nearly
the impact of seeing the actual numbers, percentages
and graphs of how you are doing. The neat part is you can
work on one or all of the factors to improve your own casting.
You can actually SEE the results.
Many people have tried video camera to try to analyze their
casting and fix problems and improve their casting - but
unless you know the name for the problem it is difficult to
get a handle on how to fix it. If you don't know something
is a mistake how can you fix it? Well, maybe not a mistake,
just not as good as it could be.
The Casting Analyzer also gives you suggestions as to how
to adjust so the cast could be better! How cool is that?
Being a 'beta tester' for the Casting Analyzer was really
great fun as well as being instructional. I will do it
again - and knowing what I know now, I will take a little
time to 'practice' casting with the rod which is used in
the system now. It was not a rod I was familiar with, so
it did not feel quite as comfortable as 'my' rod. That
isn't an excuse, I did quite well actually. Is there room
for improvement? You bet!
The Sage Casting Analyzer will be unveiled at the Denver
Fly Tackle Retailer Show this week, (Sept. '05) and I
fully expect to have to stand in line to see it there.
It's worth it.
One other thing I want to mention, Sage is making these
analyzers available at about cost to their dealers, and
the idea is to really provide a free service to fly fishers
who want to improve their casting. That is wonderful for
our sport. Casting is so important to catching - and
nothing is more frustrating to fly fishers than not being
able to get the cast where it needs to be. Being able to
cast truly makes all the difference in the world.
If you have a Sage dealer near you, do ask them when they
are going to have it. It is just terrific. ~ DLB
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