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William Olson

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Reply with quote  #1 
Now that spring is full blown here...casting practice began...

All the banter and chatter about casting strokes, rod lengths and of course various line systems has been in full play...well it caused me to do a little experiment and time the casting cycle and how it applies to fishing bigger water with longer casts.  

The 'data' I came up with is at best an approximation and applies to me and how I strip line comfortably...some may pull faster or bigger loops...some may not.  

15' rod with a single spey using 3' of overhang- nextcast @ 46' and 66'.  Casting to a very pedestrian 105' of fly and running line from reel to tip of flyline.  Leader not included.  Actual casting distance is not 105', just the linear amount for comparison sakes.

Did not throw a scandi compact or skagit type of head...needless to say those will take even longer due to retrieving additional running line.  Longer yet for skagit when you factor in snap-pause-poke-pause-then do a similar casting move to the single spey.  Shorter rods require handing an additional 2-3' of running line (more time still).  

Stripping 43' of running line with the 46' head takes on average 13-14 seconds.  Stripping 23' of running line takes on average 6-7 seconds.  Once the stripping ends there is time where the rod is properly positioned for the beginning of the cast...this takes about 4 seconds.  From the time the rod is being energized for the lift to where the line lands on water at the end of the cast...takes about 6 seconds.

What prompted this train of thought is the stripping of running line and how it impacts a day on the water.  Using the numbers...stripping line of a 46' shortish shooting head...you are spending approx. 43% more time with the casting cycle than you are with the 66' line.  You are spending twice as much time just stripping line to achieve the same distance.   

Obviously all of this flies out the window if you are not able to efficiently cast the longer head.  But the point is...the most physically demanding thing I do in the casting cycle is stripping line...and there isn't a free lunch when it comes to this activity.  Dropping down to a 13' rod and 36' head you are still stripping 30' of line to cast 80'.  Same thing with a 66' head and 15' rod?  Zero time stripping.  9 or so seconds vs. ZERO.

If I am winter steelheading on the Skagit...80' casts will cover the lions share of the water (if I am fishing the Sauk I am probably going to fish a single hander with sinktips).  Covering a long drift on that river can take hours and you will be making a lot of casts.  Just to keep it simple call it 200 casts...1800 additional seconds (9 seconds of stripping vs. 0 X 200) with the short line and rod vs. 15' and 66' head to 80'.  Or exactly 30 additional minutes.  Or 180 extra casts with the longer rod and line (again I get it that the longer line and rod is not the best tool when you're fishing under the junk on most places...but that isn't the point, it is the tackling of all water with the same rig and how much time is being spent doing nothing but stripping line).  Obviously these extra casts don't include the time the fly is swinging...but an extra half hour of time left over for 200 casts means you can make several more casts and are covering the same swath of water more efficiently.  80' with the thunderbeast 15' 8/9 wt and 66' head is a chip shot.  And the nextcast 66' head cuss whips standard 109 grain 15' sink tips up to type 8 (soon to find out how well they throw 120 grain sink 10).

On smaller water, where the majority of casts are under 60', at that point the shorter heads and rods make more sense.  But I would still use the longest head I can get away with to minimize stripping of line.  Stripping of line is the biggest time consumer of your fishing day (besides blown casts and tangled running line).



            


Todd Hirano

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Reply with quote  #2 
William:
I enjoyed your post.  I read an article by John McMillan in Fly fishing and Tying Journal and he did a similar analysis on time spent fishing longer lines vs. short head lines.  The time saving advantages of long lines can't be denied.  Superior mending  and no stripping, especially in sub freezing weather are other advantages of the long line.  On waters that allow the use of the long line such as bigger rivers with wide open space to form the larger D loops, it's the best tool for the job.

The advantages of the short head include being generally easier to cast and smaller D loops which makes fishing in tight areas easier.  Shorter lines can also make fishing smaller waters easier due to the shorter casts used.

I have experience using both long lines on two handers and shorter heads on two handers and single handers.  Due to the fact that most of my winter fishing requires fishing in tight areas, my single hand rods and short Ambush lines get the most use for winter steel.  A lot of my summer fishing is also in tight areas and while the summer season does provide more opportunities to fish in areas where the long line would be useful, I've been having so much fun with my single hand glass rods and Ambush lines that I continue to use them all year long.  However, your post has got me thinking that it's time to dust off the long lines this summer!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Todd

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Dan Page

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you William for your research and this post.  I have always wanted to do that. 
But, let us not forget the main reason we throw the long line is just cause we like to.  Yes? [smile]
Rick Jorgensen

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Reply with quote  #4 
if you are stripping line in as you step down- your analysis does not really follow. I would agree that there is some time lost but not as much as you might be accounting for. The energy and strain of added stripping for me does not even come close to the energy and pain due to shoulder/elbow issues I have when casting a much longer head on a longer rod all day.
Bruce Kruk

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Reply with quote  #5 
Rick if your hurting when casting the long lines your technique needs work or your using too short of a rod.....sorry but a long line is just as easy to cast with an appropriate rod and technique as a short line.
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Bruce Kruk
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Poppy Cummins

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Reply with quote  #6 
The long line/long rod, short line/short rod subject has been hammered harder then a Southfork steelie. I believe there is no right answer. One should fish whatever rod/line length one wants and everyone else should respect that. I for one am weary of this debate.
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Poppy=Red Shed Spey Rod Pimp http://www.redshedflyshop.com FRSCA-Founding Member How you get the line out and fishing is personal preference so as long as it works and is easy no one should care but the caster. MSB
Bruce Kruk

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Reply with quote  #7 
Poppy the debate wasn't that one is better than the other just a comment on Ricks claim that long lines hurt him
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Poppy Cummins

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Reply with quote  #8 
Maybe they do hurt him. I'm not his doctor so I don't know but he believes they do and that is plenty reason enough for him to use them.

Beyond that why does one "need" a reason to use any tackle, past one wanting to use it? I think most of us are tired of the long line/long rod, short line/short rod debate. I know I am. 

 



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Poppy=Red Shed Spey Rod Pimp http://www.redshedflyshop.com FRSCA-Founding Member How you get the line out and fishing is personal preference so as long as it works and is easy no one should care but the caster. MSB
William Olson

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Reply with quote  #9 
Rick,

What prompted this data set is how it applies to my own fishing.  I find myself being sucked into the distance elixir again, casting beyond 40 yards when fishing a certain big summer river.  Mentally trying to recall how much advantage has been gained- how many additional fish has this distance provided?  Are there additional taking lies now being covered (vs 35 yards)?  The answer is no.  No new taking lies (other than the ones I already knew about before at 40+...and there aren't very many of those...this isn't the first time I have put myself on a 35 yard leash on the big river).  And seeing how stripping an additional 20' (or 40' sometimes) impacts my day.  And how it impacts my day when using a shorter head, trying to do the same cast.  I do actually fish shorter heads and rods and shorter heads on long rods too.  Especially Atlantic salmon fishing.    

Maybe I didn't spell it out...but I did say that if you can't efficiently cast the longer line that the point was mute.  Why would pain (for any reason) not apply to that point?

If I am fishing a scoured river bed, without too much structure or slick algae it is quite easy to strip and make steps.  But that does not fully offset the time difference.  Nor does it allow one to first make a cast and then step down (very common to walk the dog during the swing...especially winter steelheading).  Based on my top 10 favorite pools on a big summer river- none of them are advised to be waded without a staff.  If you need a staff just to keep upright, stripping line while wading is not the most advisable activity.

98% of the water I fish on the big summer river, 35 yards gets the job done.  Based on what I put together, I have been wasting a lot of time (mostly energy) stripping line when I don't need to.  So it is time to reel it back in a bit.

William    
Fritz Fiedler

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Reply with quote  #10 
This is great information, as I continue to try longer lines after being introduced to two handers with a skagit setup. I wonder, how many people get fish while stripping line in? This year, I landed 3 fish after they hit on the strip, and overall about 10% of my interactions with fish seem to happen while stripping. A couple of these were when the water temp was in the high 30s, one at 36. I don't have enough experience to know if this is an outlier, or normal? Maybe I just don't strip fast enough! I do enjoy not having to strip though, for sure.
Rick Jorgensen

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Reply with quote  #11 
William - my main point was that it likely takes 5 to 10 seconds to step down between casts and if you are stripping 20 feet or 50 feet and doing it while you are stepping down then you really are not saving time by using a longer line over the length of a day as you have to "waste" this time stepping down anyway - expect that number of added casts in a day would be minimal

Bruce in my short head casting, my elbows never leave my side and my top hand rarely comes up even as high as my shoulder - it is a very small compact hand/arm motion that I cannot duplicate using a long line. I do love the long lines, but even coming up so my hand is opposite my ear over a days casting can  cause more stress and fatigue than the effort I need to put into casting short heads.  It blows me away to see a true scandi caster and how little effort or motion goes into that casting technique. The same is true watching a true master of Skagit casting and I don't know anyone expending less effort than Mike McCune!

William Olson

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Reply with quote  #12 
Rick,

Again, I put the data together from my personal curiosity as to how it applies to MY fishing.  Was very clear stating that at the start of the post.

There isn't anything one can do to defeat the time they are stripping and not fishing a fly.  It doesn't matter one iota if that person is fishing a skagit head or very long shooting head.  Stripping is taking time away from your fly fishing.  It is up to the individual angler to determine if it matters one bit to them.  The post was put out there for guys to laugh at, or possibly take a look at their own habits.  I know it did for me.  And I am going to revise my program a bit as of late, for I am not gaining anything by casting to the distances I have been. 

William

 



Bruce Kruk

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Reply with quote  #13 
Rick, thanks for the explanation for your circumstances.  The only reason I said anything is that you repeat that statement quite often about the longer lines hurting, and wouldn't want it to be discouraging to others to try going longer.  Sorry about the pain, is it like that for both sides for you?
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Rick Jorgensen

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Reply with quote  #14 
William,
Explain to me how you are losing time stripping if you are doing this as you are stepping down between casts?? You are not casting while you are stepping down anyway
Dan Page

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Reply with quote  #15 
Simon Gawesworth once related a story about timing his fishing down a specific salmon run using a short head and then fishing down the same run with a long line as part of some line testing.  The long line run was significantly shorter in time, but I can't remember the numbers he quoted. When I fish a long run behind someone using a short head I invariably must slow down or I will run in to them.  So I can't see how one can question there is a significant amount of time spent stripping vs using a long line.  I also respect the short head fisherperson's right to use the short head for whatever reasons they have, but for the sake of argument my experience shows there is much time spent in stripping when using a short head and casting the same distance. 
With regard to pain, I personally get more pain using short heads with my Scandi lines and the underhand dominant stroke.  But, that's me and my own conditioned body.  My long rod/pain issues do not manifest unless my casting goes to shyte and I struggle and start forcing things.  Over time I have come to realize when that occurs.
This is not an argument for one style over another, but only a presentation of my own experiences and observations.
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