Continuous Motion – Continuous Load?

See that photo above?  That is Greg Holt Casting. Nice eh?  He is a proponent of the CM/CL theory of casting.

I have not personally jumped on board with the continuous motion, (cm) continuous load (cl) theories of Skagit Casting.  I understand the point that is being made by the cm/cl disciples but I can’t really see the rod staying all that loaded or even bent throughout the cast although it’s not impossible to keep the rod in motion and pull off a sweet cast if you change the speed of the motion throughout the cats.  I get that.  

I still like to throw in a pause, or  drift and I’m pretty stoked about  how it works for me now, after trying for years, YEARS! to continuously keep my rod “loaded” throughout the cast.  So if you’re thinking I’m not doing it right, keep in mind that I probably do it better than you. But I’m over it.

My contention is that the only way to keep the rod fully loaded throughout the entire stroke is to cast behind you…

I will say that if I am undergunned for chucking heavy sink tips and big weighted chickens on a rod too small for the task I can more or less keep the rod moving to keep the fly from sinking and sling the fly out there.  But I prefer casting to slinging these days and don’t find myself fishing huge junk like that anymore unless I am really, really horny for a fish. Also, the guys that preach cm/cl are mostly good casters and they are not slinging either, they are making some beautiful casts.

William’s Famous Downstream poke (with a wrap?)

Most of the friends I fish with may not even have heard of the cm/cl style of casting.  Their issues have more to do with fatigue and soreness if their casting isn’t going well, usually from hitting the forward cast too hard with the top hand without a nice big D loop.

Casting Skagit heads should be the easiest kind of casting there is, after all, the head lengths are 20′ to 24′ and even shorter and its very easy for a new caster make fishable casts pretty quick using Skagit gear. I believe the cm/cl theories can be confusing if you take them to much to heart. Then again, when helping a newbie I’ve heard myself say stuff like, “No, you kinda have to do it in more of a continuous motion!    Or…they rear back with their rod almost in the horizontal 3 o’clock position and you tell them to “Poke a hole in the sky” with the rod tip, and they say, “That’s not how Ed Ward does it.”  So what do I know?

There are some arden Skagit casters who are smart and very talented who disagree with me.  One of them happens to be a good buddy and supporter of mine who is a really cool guy.  He somewhat disagreed with my last post about Rod loading so I’m giving him the opportunity to share his views on cm/cl casting, featuring this awesome downstream perry poke cast in the video above and his Wrap cast video shown below.


You can view the constant application of tension in and out and around sustained anchor sweep and transition to delivery by imagining the bail of a small water-filled pail held by your upper rod hand, and all the tilting, twisting and steady pressure movements it would take to pull that pail from a dead stop at the lift-over in a sustained anchor double spey cast to the moment of delivery in the forward stroke ending with the pail facing the target as it finally leaves your hand. If you fail to “lead” the pail by tilting it towards it’s intended path around an arc with the caster in the center, or if you fail to maintain even pressure as you accelerate it around on its course, or if you pause (or “ease up” too much) during the transition to vertical (“pause” being an aspect correctly taught in linear casting) you risk the pail spilling its contents.

Note that within the transition from horizontal to vertical during an out and around sequence that the rod (the pail in this visualization) is drawn inward under tension towards the caster’s upper hand shoulder (by raising its angle above the water when viewed from behind) while the momentum of the line continues outward and rearward before finally aligning behind the rod tip opposite the intended direction of the cast. This is how the sustained-anchor D loop “inflates” and re-orients from more horizontal to more vertical while remaining under tension from the rod tip in an out and around set-up. (If you desire a V-loop, go ahead and pause (stop accelerating) and allow the rod and line to drift rear-ward but be prepared to re-tension the line if necessary).

Without a lessening of tension (a pause, some would say) the anchored fly line remains fully stretched during the transition to vertical, the line acting as a tethered weight orbiting around the rod tip (but in two dimensions) in a way similar to how it would behave just prior to release in an ordinary overhead cast using overhang, but in this case, not being allowed to catch up to the rod tip because the anchor holds it back!

Greg Holt, Wrap Cast

The flex profile of the rod, the elasticity of the line, the proportion of rear line mass, the length of the line and amount of overhang, the position of the anchor (out in front of/in towards the caster) and the ability of the caster to apply steady force will dictate whether a pause becomes necessary (lots of variables!). The goal (for me anyway) is to get as much fully tensioned line behind the rod tip as the anchor will allow in order to invite a smooth, long, and powerful forward stroke without any abruptness.

Much is made about “creep” (moving the rod forward without tension) and how it shortens the forward stroke. This threat is real enough, especially when the sweep and transition movements are more linear, but your hands are “smart” enough to tell you whether you are maintaining tension during an out and around move—and if you are maintaining tension, you are not creeping.

If you don’t feel the tension continuously (“heaviness”) when transitioning from horizontal to vertical before beginning the forward part of the stroke after an out and around maneuver something is amiss with your mechanics or tackle. Hint: you may not be moving the rod and line out and around (a.k.a. “cutting the corner”) you’ve applied way too much force and disrupted and moved the anchor out of position or caused it to lose its grip, or you’re trying to sustained-anchor cast with a broomstick!

And that is my opinion, based on my study and experience.

If this discussion raises some questions in your mind, that is probably a good thing. It either means you want to improve, or it means your author has more to learn (which is certainly true). I hope this article has proved helpful in some way, even if only by encouraging you to analyze your own casting in the process of creating your own style. - Greg Holt

Greg Holt is a Fishy Guy…photo Steve Holt

26 thoughts on “Continuous Motion – Continuous Load?

    1. Thanks Tobias for weighing in. Obviously you have put a lot of time and effort into this and the production is very impressive. Thank you for sharing it here. I will give it some study when time allows and hopefully some casters with engineering minds will see it and give it the response your work deserves. Thank you and stand by.

      1. Thanks Tim,
        I tried to keep the explanation of my videos / work as simple as possible in order to reach a larger audience. Do hope that people without an engineering mind will understand too. The impact of the angular momentum is the physical description for a rather simple conclusion: that along the deflected fly rod some kinetic energy could climb up towards the tip. Overhead casting as well as “anchor casting” should be able to trigger this transmission effect (for the anchor casting it should be important for the final forward cast).

  1. I have the strange idea that Newton would develop a sustained laughter knowing that his laws are applicable to everyday life situations… but those encountered in the skagit realm.

  2. Tim,
    I think what some viewers of William’s video clip might be missing is that during his transition from horizontal to vertical he is drawing the rod inwards under tension and maintaining the stretch in the line that was built up during the sweep. It cannot be seen as much as it can be felt (I mentioned that above but it is worth repeating in my opinion). This is a small but very important difference from the mechanics of a back and forth D loop formation after a sweep that may otherwise look identical to an out and around.

    Not to get clear out into the weeds in over thinking this, but the D loop forms as the rod begins to lose its ability to “stay ahead” of the line as others have stated in various ways. The less tension lost during the conclusion of the out and around move the better because it sets up a smooth and long forward stroke based on losing line tension in only one place–at launch. So William’s technique relies more on preservation of tension through an arc as opposed to the straight line momentum of a strong rearward thrust in linear casting that sacrifices tension twice.

    Both work (in their own area of advantage based on the multiple variables in gear and technique mentioned in my offering), but shouldn’t be confused with one another.

      1. Interesting article. My impression: Correct in terms of what it describes, but unsatisfying in terms of considering how the momentum of a line moving rearward after anchored sweep can indeed bend the rod after the rod first unloads (during linear de-acceleration). The line doesn’t stop and hang in mid air after the rod first unloads, instead it continues on the caster-intended rearward path as a result of its inertia and mass, re-tensioning the line and re-bending the rod if momentum is sufficient. If he explained that and I missed it, my bad.

        To use the author’s own suggestion to self-experiment: execute a sweep with an imaginary bowling ball tethered to your rod tip–in a linear transition from the sweep the rod will momentarily unload as the ball passes behind the rod tip, then re-bend the rod as the momentum of the bowling ball continues in its caster-decreed path rearwards.

        The author is correct that the principles of physics remain unchanged, but all too often our use of them in describing something we see or feel is incomplete or less than perfect. I include myself in that group. I don’t think many argue dishonestly, but their own interest and focus seasons their result.

        Finally, consider that in an out and around sweep the tethered bowling ball has the potential to continuously bend the rod when the caster applies effort opposite the direction the ball is trying to fly at any given point in the sequence. That is the “magic” Ed Ward is experiencing.

        I’m not a proponent of it beyond its situation-specific usefulness, but it sure seems like there are those out there trying to equate it with voodoo.

        1. The problem I see with the bowling ball analogy and Ed Ward is that in most of his videos he pauses or at least decelerates, or changes direction with the rod tip and if you watch it in slow motion its easy to see the rod straighten for the most part, although any softer rod you keep moving with or without line may have a little bend in in. Plus, going from circular sweep to linear forward stroke with a bowling ball or lariat is going to require some sort of deceleration therefore unloading and re-loading, if loading is even the proper term we should be using.

          Here is what I hope newcomers to casting would know.
          Skagit casting is easy.
          Anchor placement is important
          A Nice big D loop really helps
          Slow and smooth gets it done
          Start off casting short distances
          Pause if you want
          Don’t have a lot of slop in your D loop or sweep eg. keep a little tension in the line system throughout the cast to eliminate a lot of slack.

          What say Greg?

          1. I say go out and duplicate William’s cast right down to the last detail–high rod angle in the sweep, small hand movements, slightly larger rod tip movements, even larger outward bow in the line belly, slow even tempo thorough out, small plane change in the transition, no discernable pause in force application and no sudden application of force at any point in the procedure.

            We already know it works because we can see the results even if we struggle to explain it.

            Warning: you may develop a grin that takes days to wear off. If it doesn’t work for you, well there’s always linear sustained anchor casting…

            1. Nice description Greg. My tendency is too much arm and hand movements! I get that old chicken wing out there and get lost. Particularly on the dreaded double spey.,,not to mention I have a built in creep mechanism that sometimes causes me to loose tension and shorten my forward stroke, causing tailing loops. Other than that I’m good. Even a guy like Mike McCune who has more of a back and forth Skagit stroke keeps his arm and hand movements tight and small. So your point is well taken.

    1. True and I agree, but the constant load guys would say the line is too long for their application and there is no true ED Ward out and around movement. Not that I am arguing with you, just saying. Here is a good example of out and around and I would say there is pretty much continuous tension but I cant really see any continuous load they speak of, although its a powerful cast by Greg Holt again. Regardless, I wish I could cast like that.

  3. Fixing one casting fault with another (Creep) is very bad.

    So far I haven’t seen a cast where line head is at least 2.5 times rod length which does not have either a pause where rod bend is lost or Creep.


    1. Hi Esa! I’m grateful to read your observations. Thanks for taking the time to log in and share your thoughts. I believe you and I both sometimes struggle with “creep” syndrome!!! I consciously try to steer away from creep. But to steal a quote from Ed Ward: There is more than one way to skin a cat! I think it’s ultimately a matter of semantics. However you explain it, Greg Holt has some serious casting and writing chops and I’m very happy to have his well thought out ideas on the subject here on my little blog, and to have your comments as well! Thank you,a bunch man!

  4. Keeping the rod loaded from the sweep up to the start of the forward cast is an impossibility. Physics can explain it using some basic concepts, but slo-mo video is much more explicit in that regard. Enough examples on the net.

    1. Thank you Aitor for your comment and for keeping tabs on I am monitoring you’re site for your next offering with your slow-mo camera and commentary. To steal a quote from you off of your comments on a previous blog post… ” I respect Ed’s (Ed Ward’s) work as much as anyone (as I expressed to him in an old Sexyloops debate), it is just that I don’t agree in his explanation of the “whys”.

          1. Why? Once you cease applying force to tne rod it unloads. You apply force during the sweep in order to make a loop, then you reposition the rod formthe forward cast. That repositioning needs so small a force that rod load is negligible.
            I think that I should shoot some slomo with a single hander and a Royal Wulf Ambush. I have no skagit lines for two handers.

            1. Good point. I would definitely like to see the slomo with the ambush lines. I do think there are some benefits for me when feeling the immediate tension and bending of the rod during the sweep in certain waterborne cast caused by peeling of the line off the water with short shooting heads in some of the casts described by Ed Ward and Greg Holt but I think they have to do with rhythm, timing and preventing slack. Also, personally it is easier for me to keep proper tension when needed with waterborne casts because big change of direction Touch and Go casting is more of a challenge for me.

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