We have looked at the background mechanics of body rotation and torque, says John Holden. These are the exercises that let you feel the winding and unwinding process without the distraction of a rod. They highlight what happens naturally when the body rotates backward, then uncoils forward to the cast’s launch point and beyond.
Run through the exercises until you can clearly feel the tightness of the set-up position, the weight shift which triggers the cast and the feeling of acceleration and power as you drive through to completion. The rest is easy…
Good cast, bad cast
We’re almost ready to add body power to a real cast. But before explaining the ‘power clock’, I’ll show you the difference between a good cast fuelled by body rotation and a bad cast powered by, well, nothing much except hope.
Learning to spot the good and bad in other casters will help to refine your own style but don’t forget that when you are casting, feedback and feel, not mechanical analysis, are what you should be concentrating on.
The most noticeable feature of the good cast is the powerful set-up position, shown here with the sinker on the beach. Other than the obvious differences, a pendulum should look the same. My body is wound up, weight on the right leg, arms slightly extended to give a wide rod arc.
The cast begins with a smooth weight transfer and body rotation, bringing me naturally to launch point, which is almost exactly the same body and arm position as the beginning of our previous heavy hammering exercises.
The rod is compressing nicely even though my arms have done nothing but move automatically into hammering position. Torque has loaded the blank for me. My body continues to uncoil, accelerating all the way through to the final hammering action that whips the sinker away at high speed on exactly the right path.
Abad cast begins with my dumping the sinker on the ground, then shuffling into position. You can see that the set-up lacks any direction and sense of purpose, with little if any pre-loading. The rod arc is seriously restricted.
Without body torque to drive the action, it’s left to my arms to provide all the effort. At what should have been a power-laden launch point, the rod is too upright, too far forward and still virtually uncompressed. The rest doesn’t matter - this is a cast going nowhere.
SETTING THE ‘POWER-CLOCK’
The amount of body torque dialled into your personal casting clock, plus the layout of rod, leader and sinker, allows controlled amounts of compression to be built in quickly, slowly or anywhere in between.
These combinations of rod angle, drop and sinker position extract the best performance from an outfit. Arod that’s too quick and stiff can be tamed. Likewise, a blank on the slow, sloppy side can be livened up.
The power and speed unleashed by a good body action may require that you open or close the stance a little so that the hammering action is accurately aligned with the aerial target. By the same token, the target may also need some adjustment to match the increased power output and altered trajectory.
Body-driven casts tend to fly to the right of an arms-dominant action. You may also get the feeling of slightly premature release, which is nothing to worry about. Your previous style probably threw low and left with a ‘sticky’ release.
Imagine a clock face under your feet, with 12 o’clock pointing toward the water. Coil around until your body feels comfortably tight. Remember to lean slightly forward as you turn, so that your body weight slides over to your right leg.
This is your basic turn on a medium-power setting. Somehow, relate the position of your shoulders to the clock face. When I rotate to medium setting, which is my starting point for fishing casts, it seems to me that a line drawn across my shoulders would align with the 2 o’clock and 7 o’clock marks. That is, just short of square to the 6 o’clock direction. Exactly where your shoulders settle, or how you judge them relative to the clock, does not matter provided that your coil is nice and solid, and that you can dial in the same degree of turn from cast to cast.
Wind yourself up really hard. Where do yourshoulders point now? That is your high-power setting, which you will rarely need on the beach. To establish the low-power setting, uncoil a little from the medium baseline toward the launch point angle.
Between the two you will sense a torque load that feels reasonably powerful yet still retains enough free space to generate a handy amount of rod compression before the launch point arrives. This low setting is handy on a steep beach that restricts rod movement.
Go back to medium setting and drop the rod roughly into position for a ground cast. Waggle it around in a flat arc. At one extreme lies the maximum angle and arm extension of the South African cast.
At the other end of the spectrum is a comfortable and natural-feeling minimum angle, which for most anglers points the rod somewhere toward 7 o’clock. Here your hands are relatively close to the body. At the South African position, the arms are almost straight.
Body setting plus arm extension control the rod layout angle. The widest power arc is a combination of maximum body wind-up and the longest arm to rod extension. It’s pretty obvious how to set up the minimum arc. What isn’t so clear is how to control the middle angles.
Should you set up for an 8 o’clock rod angle by using medium body wind-up and a medium reach? High setting and small arm extension or low body power and long arm extension? Where should the sinker lie? What about leader drop? The options depend on what you aim to achieve and how that process must be controlled... of which, more later.
THE ‘POWER CLOCK’ IN ACTION
Good casts arrive at launch point with the rod under compression, powered by an unwinding body action. From then on, it’s a simple matter of hammering the sinker toward the aerial target.
These two off-the-ground casts show that there is plenty of room for personal interpretation of a style provided that the framework is sound. The semi-South African uses plenty of body rotation and an extended rod and sinker layout.
The high-inertia Easy Cast develops its power from less body rotation and a smaller rod layout angle with only a small arm extension. The sinker lies on the inside of the rod tip, almost under the blank.
Both casts arrive at an almost identical launch point where the blank is nicely compressing with arms and body in the vital heavy hammering position. All this happens while the body continues to unwind on automatic pilot.
There is no need to deliberately control the arm movements that lead up to launch point. Before you cast, remind yourself of what a solid launch point feels like. Then allow your subconscious to take over and make the necessary adjustments as the actual cast gets under way.
The South African cast uses a long rod arc and a low-inertia (low resistance) sinker position whereas, in the Easy Cast, the inside sinker position generates a heavy and immediate resistance for the rod tip. Along, slow build-up or a short, quick build-up - which suits you better? It is not a matter of good or bad but of personal preference and ability.
Find the set-up positions and tackle layouts that feel right and work best. Bear in mind that rod length, action and stiffness, sinker weight and leader drop all affect the way the rod is compressed at launch point and beyond.
To look through the whole range of articles in this series, click HERE.