Physics FOR Fly Casting – The Einstein Series


We have covered a fair area of casting that is illuminated by physics, especially by mechanics. They are not the only sources of light. Others include biomechanics, how we learn and perform movement, learning and performance insights from other sports and on it goes. Physics is great for understanding the requirements of casting efficiently. With this knowledge we can form more accurate mental models, develop better BS sensors, identify what’s useful and analyse our casting faults. However, like everything, its usefulness is limited and let’s not forget the people who prefer to learn by doing rather than thinking.

Even for someone like me who needs to have a bigger picture into which pieces of the puzzle can be assembled, physics is not the only useful approach nor is it the final arbiter of what I do and don’t do when casting. Whatever casting mechanics might prescribe as the ideal way to cast in terms of efficiency I absolutely reserve the right to do something else because it works or simply because I enjoy it. I can’t break the rules of physics but I am not their haplessly obedient servant.

Let’s take hauling for example. How we share the load between rod hand and line hand is up to each of us. I might not want or be able to time the haul to finish a few milliseconds before Rod Straight Position, which is ideal for going long. I might not be making a long cast. I might want a different tempo of movement in one or both arms that I find pleasant and helpful to accuracy. I might simply enjoy creatively playing around with different contributions of Force between rod and line arms. The ideal might be very significant if I am trying to win a distance competition but a pain in the arse if I am trying to make a quick cover at short to medium range. It has been said that in music improvisation is the privilege of the master and the bane of the novice. We need the structure of technique and technical rules to play classical music but without something more the music dies at the hands of the player. Great casters do not look like robots. They have mastered technique sufficiently to be able to express themselves.

Great casting is graceful and at its heart graceful movement is economy of effort – just enough and no more. Grace and efficiency make a very happy couple. They are an example of the relationship between Art and Science as rediscovered by the West during the European Renaissance. Contrastingly, mathematics and improvisation are not a match made in heaven. Determining what is mathematically ideal leaves little room for creative interpretation. Take what you need from physics.

On a personal note here is what I have taken from it. Going back to the first paragraph of this Endnote, I said physics was “great for understanding the requirements of casting efficiently”. Lest the deep significance of that pass by unnoticed and unrecognised here is my go at stating the essence of fly casting in a single sentence. If you want to fly cast beautifully, accurately and long you have to cast efficiently.

If I had only a single word it would not be “force” or “effort” or even “technique”. It would be efficiency because that is where all things in my sensibility, practise, learning and knowledge converge. Understanding the physics of casting has not revealed that insight to me but it has confirmed and affirmed it to an extent I could not possibly have imagined when this project began.

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