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
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
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
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
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
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!
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