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How To Improve Your Fly Casting With Bio Mechanics Video Analysis                   by Tim Gaunt-Baker

Bio mechanics video analysis? More hi-tech mumbo jumbo I hear you say. Well is it? I wonder how many o f us started fly fishing and with hardly any formal instruction; we picked it up as we went along and after a while we were catching fish and enjoying the sport. We thought we knew it all, didn't we?

However, there comes a time when that biggest trout or salmon is just out of reach and try as we might we can’t quite cast to it. That is the time that we really wished we could cast like the demonstrators on the casting platforms at the game fairs.

“They makes it look so easy,” I here you say to your companions, as the guru of the day puts the whole line and backing out with apparently little effort.

Well it's all down to 'timing and technique,' as I am sure you will agree. But, you ask, “How do I achieve this; as far as I can see I do the same thing but it seems to take so much more effort!”

This is where the bio mechanics and motion capture analysis come to the rescue. It helps the average caster become good and the good caster better still and the beginner benefits from learning the art properly from the outset whilst avoiding the pitfalls of bad technique.

Some time ago I was discussing fly casting with a physiotherapist friend of mine who is also a leading specialist in human movement. We found that we both had the same problems as far as fly-casters were concerned: tennis-elbow, bad wrists, stiff necks and shoulders and so on.

He suggested that I should look into motion analysis to see how these problems manifested themselves in the cast. This technique has been used in a great many sports like golf, cricket, athletics and polo, to name but a few.

The Motion Analysis Unit at Worcester University have probably the most up to date unit in the World. They can measure minute movements of the joints ligaments and muscles in any given movement we make. It picks up stresses and abnormal loading of the joints and the spine and therefore shows the difference between good and bad technique very graphically.

I spent a day at the unit going through 5 different casts: the roll cast, the overhead cast the jump roll cast, change of direction cast (single Spey), and the double haul.

First I did them to the best of my ability and then I did them again badly and I mean really badly. The difference was dramatic to say the least. All these casts, good and bad were analysed in depth and the results were alarming.

The damage being done to joints and muscles in the bad casts left cause for concern to say the least. I wonder how many people were taught to cast with their elbow tucked in to their side. I know I was my Grandfather used to stick a ten bob note under my arm and if it stayed there I could keep it! Needless to say I didn’t keep many. As you will see from figures 1 and 2, the damage to the elbow joint could be quite severe if carried out on a regular basis.

The analysis showed up other points very dramatically - see fig. 3, rod tracking, good and bad. This was my foray into the basics of Bio Mechanics and just the tip of the iceberg.

Some months later I took Bob Wood (my physiotherapist friend), down to the unit.

Bob is a keen coarse angler and has done a little fly fishing, very badly. He has had no instruction at all, but he had read a book and seen a video. That was his extent of knowledge.

First of all we put Bob through the casts as he perceived them to be done. Then he had 5 minutes of tuition and did each cast again. As you will see from the sequence, the improvement with that small amount of instruction, Bob improved his performance no end.

Obviously to do this type of analysis is very costly just to teach a casting technique, but if you have some of the more painful problems, like Tennis Elbow, Wrist or Joint pain and it is impairing your enjoyment of the sport, it could be well worth a visit to an instructor who is qualified to analyse and improve your casting problem.

I have, as a result of the motion analysis program, been working on developing an in field system of motion capture. This will be a real help to all levels of ability from the beginner to the expert.

It is being field tested at present and a DVD will be available shortly. In the mean time we offer sessions analysing casting techniques for any level of ability.

You will be filmed performing several casts which will be analysed on our motion capture program. We then make the corrections and do the casts again where you will see an immediate improvement. A copy will be supplied to you to take home to refer to. These sessions generally take 2 hours but can take longer if more complex details are needed.


Tim Gaunt-Baker
March 31st 2009






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