Spaghetti Monsters, Dreaded Distal Heaps, Creeps and Dark Shadows

Yikes! My title sounds like one I should have saved for Halloween.   Actually I just had some observations I thought others might be interested in.  Nothing to be afraid of, but  I will provide this warning, these are observations I made, for me, your own results may vary.  If readers think I have made any incorrect assumptions here, let me know.

  • Spaghetti Monsters – When practicing in the yard on distance casts I have found it best to stack the backing on the ground and then move a few feet and stack the the rest of the line.  Keep fly line and backing away from each other.  Assuming you’re  using a 90-105 foot fly line, the backing can be troublesome.   A knotted spaghetti monster of backing can send you running for the scissors.  An extra long line, like the SA Mastery Expert Distance can cure that.  SA describes it as “trout fly line masquerading as competition line”, and it is 120′ long and can save you from dealing with backing.  The SA XXD is pretty much the same line, shorter at 105 feet but still long enough that when fishing, should keep you from having to deal with backing.
    • Also, for distance casting, I have found that rather than stacking line on concrete or a tarp, closely cut grass is the best surface to stack your line on. It   must be not be too closely cut though, the grass blades grab the line which helps to pull out loops or maybe it slows the line down enough to allow loops to separate before they get to the guide.  I am not sure the reason, but after casting a lot and trying different things, the closely cut grass seems to work the best.
    • The stripping bucket, in extremely long distance casts, say 90+feet, is not the best place to stack your shooting line, just too much line in a tight place.  When fishing this generally isn’t a problem as a really long cast with a saltwater fly is probably 80 feet and most casts are less than that of course.  Only put in the bucket what you need, less is more when it comes to spaghetti monsters and how much line you stack in the bucket.
  • The Dreaded Distal Heap – I achieved a very helpful realization this week when studying some casting information on the web.  I was getting some slack line piles or “distal heaps” as I have heard them called at the end of my cast.  I had video of some of these casts and the loop looked great, no tailing loop.  Something was happening at the very end of the cast and it was only on the high energy distance casts.  What was happening is something I have seen described as “tumble”.  It is when the loop unrolls too early letting the heavier line of the head to overtake the lighter front taper.  I started adjusting the amount of overhang, the amount of running line from the tip-top to the guide, to correct it.  The optimum amount of overhang varies between different lines.  I had been assuming the problem was from a tailing loop, and therefore making the wrong adjustments.   Actually I made the realization from reading a pdf file I found on the Internet apparently created by a Mr. Peter Lami, http://prsfoundation.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/5-Week-Fly-Casting-Lesson-Plan-Outline-by-Peter-Lami-v1.pdf.  Thanks Peter for putting your info online as it is a very nice compendium of casting information.  Here’s a tip, lines with long heads like the SA XXD are more forgiving when it comes to “tumble”.
  • Creeps – I am not talking about any Washington based sexting politicians here, rather, the tendency to make a forward motion of the rod after the back cast occurs.  Apparently one caster’s “creep” is another caster’s “slip” or “slide loading”.   “Slipping” or “slide loading” is very important in distance casting, but you have to know you’re doing it and how you do it is crucial.  I suggest the term “creep” for when you don’t realize you are bringing your arm forward and therefore have no concept of the timing and the nurturing that the “slipping” or “slide loading” maneuver requires to keep it from producing a tailing loop.  Also a “creep” I think is distinguishable as a slight motion forward with an imperceptible stop.  To “slip” or “slide load” you drag the rod forward, pulling slack out and maintaining the motion, hopefully with acceleration, without creating a material “load” on the rod.  I know in distance casting, you have to have it.
  • Dark Shadows –  I have really become fond of the Cortland Liquid Crystal line.  I am only annoyed by its short length, 90 feet, which forces me to deal with backing.   I like the way it casts.  It becomes very slick when you apply some silicon, has little memory and it seems to reduce Spaghetti Monster encounters.  But, I have read some detractor’s comments saying that the line spooks fish because it “flashes” in sunlight and it also makes as much shadow as an opaque line.  I decided to test those two assertions in full sunlight, see photos below, a popular PVC line on the left, Liquid Crystal on the right.  You can see there is in fact as much shadow, but the line itself is almost invisible and there is no “flash” or shine from it.  The fact that it is almost invisible helps when using short leaders with the “Samurai” System and for heavy saltwater flies.
  • Continuous improvement –  With some of the info above and also using an SA XXD line which helped me with the overhang/tumble problem, I recently made a 104 foot cast in the yard, see photo.  The tape is 100′ long, the stick is the end of the leader.  The cast was with my TFO BVK 7 wt and an SA XXD 6 wt line.  V-grips, 170 degree “stopless” casts, drifting, feeding, slipping,  velocity addition and overhang control.  There is a lot going on to get to and beyond 100′, but the result is I am starting to run out of yard!IMG_2580
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