Techy Thursday - Don't Choke The Chicken

Many see a casting fault and immediately go to their plethora of book read solutions. “It’s a tailing loop so they must be creeping or punching the cast” for example. However sometimes a simple thing may be the primary cause of several issues. One of the things I find myself repeatedly calling most days on the stream with clients is ‘relax that hand!’ Or ‘don’t choke the chicken!’ It seems very common for anglers to grip their rod in the tightest way possible and wonder why their cast isn’t working the way they expected it to.

Many of you who have been to my casting tutorials or have been guided by me will have experienced my ‘don’t try’ mantra and will have been shown the exaggerated way in which I rather loosely grip my rod. “You make that look so effortless” is a common comment, however it’s not hard to do if you follow this...

You should begin every cast with your rod hand relaxed, smoothly accelerating throughout your casting stroke. The rod is angled backwards as your hand moves forward, much like throwing a javelin. At the end of your stroke, squeezing your hand will help both to turn over your rod (late rotation), and tense up the muscles throughout your arm allowing for a crisp, complete stopping of the rod butt, creating a solid anchor point for the blank to unload from.

How far could you throw this hat with a clenched fist?

Again, relaxing the hand immediately following the stop allows the rod tip to do its thing and smooth out your presentation. Now that we are all experts on casting mechanics lets run through three reasons to relax your hand and avoid choking that chook.

Delayed Rotation

Relaxing the hand throughout the casting stroke allows you to turn the rod over at the very end of the stroke, increasing energy and line speed with far less effort.

Fatigue Of Tendons

Make a tight fist right now and hold it while you pantomime a cast. Doesn’t feel good does it? You won’t get too far through your day casting like this before your muscles, tendons and ligaments fatigue and your casting goes to crap. And long term, think tennis elbow.

Oscillating Rod Tip

Relaxing the hand immediately following the stop allows the rod tip to unload and oscillate as designed, smoothing out your loops and eliminating slack line and any kicking of your line, leader or flies.

Death gripping the rod will often result in tailing loops due to the tendency to punch the cast when in a tensed state, and tracking issues as your clenched hand and tensed arm have a tendency to pull inwards towards your body.

Simply chill out, relax and get more performance, and enjoyment from your fly fishing.