H3 Test, and a Free Hat!

Last night I was at Orvis-Ridgeland to hear guide Lucas Bissett speak.  Just before I left the office to head that way I noticed an email from Orvis that said “Take a test cast for a free hat!” .  Well, I always test drive the H3’s at Orvis so it was a free hat for doing what I had already intended to do.  That’s what is called a “no-brainer”.

I was anxious to try the H3 with my latest version of my own casting form/style.  My casts over 100 ft with my low-end TFO six wt are a much higher percentage now and I was hoping with the H3D I might be able to get a new personal best, which is currently 114 feet.

Though I have watched great casters like Steve Rajeff, Paul Arden and others, I just can’t seem to emulate them and my attempts have resulted in developing my own style.  Of course the basics always apply, my style is just “what works for me”.  My distance style consists of the following:

  • Using  a key grip to keep my wrist from rotating giving me a nice straight cast and layout of the leader, important for distance.  The key grip also prevents me from overpowering the rod, that thumb just wants to apply too much power.  The key grip allows the stripping hand to do the final power (the 15% the experts quote) and the key grip allows for a more complete wrist rollover.  For me this has mostly eliminated a “hook” that I kept dealing with when using a thumb-over as well as overpowering the rod.
  • Keeping my elbow almost stationary except a slight drift on the backcast and then a thrust along the final rod axis, as Lefty would say  “keeping my elbow on a shelf”.
  • I grip the rod in the key grip but I loosely hold the rod letting gravity situate the reel pointed straight down and I maintain that attitude in the cast.  Many casters point the ferrules out, Flip Pallot for one, but I find that I have to keep the rod in as perfect alignment as possible to prevent any twisting resulting in any unwanted meanderings of the fly line.
  • Beginning the cast by pinching the rod with my fingers in the key grip and unpinching and relaxing at the stop to dampen the reflex of the rod.
  • Using mostly angular rotation for the energy of the cast including making my body participate in the arc by dropping my shoulder in the drift. To drop my shoulder in the drift I pick up the heel of my forward foot during the backcast, raising my elbow a similar amount to “keep it on the shelf”.  When I make the forward cast I drop my heel and roll my shoulder with the cast in the same arc as my arm.
  • Using low trajectories. High trajectories force the line to drag over over the tip at an acute angle.  I stop the rod at about 9:30, almost horizontal, after a late strip and wrist rollover and then I quickly raise the rod butt as part of the wrist rollover to align the rod guides with the line trajectory to minimize friction.  Low trajectories also help in preventing tumble which is when the line lays out too soon and the head speeds up on the leader.  Short heads like rocket tapers and redfish lines are particularly bad about it.  Once the leader unrolls I want the flyline to drop on the ground because “you can’t push a string”.  You can make a long cast with the shorter heads but the leader layout won’t be pretty and the cost is in feet as just having a straight leader layout can give you 7 to 8 feet more distance by itself.
  • Beginning the cast with only a couple of feet of overhang which means 70 feet using the SA XD 68 foot head.  I do slip additional line but I am not sure how much, I add by feel. I think I am making my cast with about 76-78 feet of carry and I do shoot line into the last backcast but not so much to get additional carry as to create the momentum to use slide loading to increase the load.  I think I have a little more than 80 feet of line in the air at release.  Althought I have to say, for me, the jury is still out on slide loading.  Its great when it’s timed right, but its ugly when it’s not.

So, that’s my style, whether the FFI agrees with it or not.

With the H3D 8wt I made casts that I stepped off at 38 paces from reel to the fly line tip.  The leader was in a heap or I would have gotten more distance but the store line had a short head saltwater line on it and the head length was unknown. I would love to have had a long head line like the SA XD on that H3D.  With a nice leader layout I would have had 40 paces which is approximately 40 yards or 120 feet, my personal goal.  Next time I’ll take my distance line… and a tape…I think there’s a new personal best for me out there.

I did get my free hat and I think an H3D may be in my future.



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