It's All In The Wrist
By Captain Paul Darby (QRRFISH1), Shalimar, FL


Now that you've had a little time to think about the amount of power its going to take to lift the line off the water let's take a movement-by-movement look at the act itself.

With the line laid out in front of you, you draw the line and lift the rod at the same time. Several things are happening at this point. You're causing the line to both begin breaking the surface tension and to plane to the surface of the water. Thus reducing the friction by two methods at the same time, one by less line length in contact with the water and two, less line surface in contact with the water, as the line planes to the surface as you increase the draw speed.

Thru this process the forearm is more or less in line with the rod and the forearm is the major power source with the line hand drawing line at approximately the same speed and length of draw. Ideally, and this is where practice and judgement comes in to play, the line and the fly should be just departing the water in total as the rod reaches the very top of your draw stroke.

Now this seems to be a point were there is some confusion about what's really transpiring. I have noted with interest, on more than one occasion people recount that instructors have recommended or claimed that the wrist is held rigid while the loop forms.

Personally I prefer to teach people that controlling the wrist means controlling the formation of the loop. It also means you decide the direction of travel and even the speed it will travel at.

Now that may seem to be a lot to ask of one little movement, but there's so much going on at this point that I don't think is being fully explored, explained and understood. So I went to the greatest source of information on why things do as they do, Uncle Guff. I asked him if he could help me explain why; the point at which the line left the water is one of the most important points to understand in operating a fly rod.

He sort of leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment, turned to me and said, "Cause, mullet got gizzards, but no feathers". Now being a Southerner, that makes perfect sense to me. What he sorta means is, it lives as a fish but thinks it might be a bird, or may have been one at one time. So it lives a very confused life caught between two different worlds.

So it is with the fly line, as it goes between the water and the air. It ain't really fishing but it isn't flying either. It's not in a familiar position. Therefore, a lot of missteps creep in at this critical juncture.

Now being I spend most of my time around saltwater, one of the more common problems I see is folks trying to lift more line off the water than they are comfortably in control of. Don't think for a moment that confidence doesn't come from being comfortably in control. A confident angler has a far better chance of having a more satisfying day on the water. So what happens when you do overreach your ability to control the line coming off the water?

Some of the more common things I see are, tailing loops. Throwing large over powered arches of line that dips down and slaps the water behind them throwing off the forward presentation. While this may sound odd both of these moves come from the same common problem.

The problem is over-powering, which puts you out of balance and out of control. You may have the best loop formation possible, but over-power it, you're going to have a tailing loop. On the other hand if you have no idea of loop control and are throwing large sweeping loops thru the air, you're almost certainly over-powering to compensate for the lack of efficiency that comes from a large open loop.

This is of course part of the decisions you're making while you're lifting the line off the water. If you're throwing tailing loops it's a decision you made before the line left the water. It goes to action and reaction, if the last action you committed was to over-power, the next action you're likely to commit is to react by over-powering.

Tired of tailing loops? Tired of over-working due to inefficient line projections?

Make better decisions.

Bet you can guess what's coming next. ~ Capt. Paul

Have a question? Email me! captpaul462@aol.com

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