Projection Zone?
By Captain Paul Darby (QRRFISH1), Shalimar, FL

Tap, Tap, Tap, is this thing on? Ok then here we go again.

Fly rods are tapered, that taper gives them power zones. Each zone has a purpose and collectively they make up the dynamic of the rod. The better you understand how to use those zones the easier it's going to be to put the movements together.

I have found that most modern fly rods have three basic power zones. Now before you start winding your clock, yes there can be more and some with far less. Three is enough however to get the point across here. The top third of the rod I refer to as the 'projection zone', this is where the majority of flex takes place when drawing the line, forming the loop and projecting the line. The mid-section is the 'transition zone' and the bottom is of course the 'power zone'. So just what makes me think this is important to understand?

Because if you better understand the tool, you may better understand how to go about operating it. Power is transferred in two directions on a fly rod depending on what maneuver your involved in. In a manner of speaking you will both send and receive signals up and down the length of the rod. Your hand will send messages up the length of the rod and the line will send signals back down the rod to the hand. If you've ever tried to lift too much line off the water and felt the rod bow down into the power zone, you probably saw a very large loop result. And there's a very understandable reason for that, now if I can just think of it.

Oh yea, rods are tapered. That should clear it right up. Perhaps not, I see Scooter is still confused. He's scratching his head and Ole Blues at the same time, well the boy does have some talent. I don't think we consider how we relate to the action and reaction of the dynamic of the fly rod. Why do we so often have trouble with loop control, when we retract or present a line unassisted by benefit of a single draw?

Well frankly its because we don't consider how the load shifts to the various zones of the rod and how we both cause and react to those changes.

Consider that if you lift too much line off the water, the tip of the rod will indeed bow deeply due to higher resistance. This has the effect of shorting the length of the lever we are lifting with, thus losing considerable mechanical advantage. The shorter the lever, the greater the effort you will need to apply, to lift the line into the air.

Ah but there's the rub. It is the nature of rod blanks to remain straight, and they are designed to distort at a predetermined flex under reasonable load. You are in effect over powering, pushing the reasonable limit of the design; control suffers and efficiency falls off. At some point your going to stop drawing the rod. That 'tho is still not the end of the story. The excess power you exerted on the grip is still being transferred up the length of the rod and into the line. The line has no choice but to follow the path of the rod tip. A path that has been shaped more by line resistance, which is reflected in the deep flexing of the softest part of the rod blank. And creates the largest arching line paths.

This situation is easy to avoid. Lowering the rod tip closer to the water before you begin the lift and draw. This will reduce the slack that will have to be drawn out before the line can begin moving up and off the water. Lowering the angle of the rod to more closely match the angle of the line on the surface of the water allows the load to be spread out further down the length of the rod, helping to maintain the advantage of the lever to lift the line with less effort.

The less effort it takes to aerialize the line, the more accurately you may form the loop. ~ Capt. Paul

Have a question? Email me!

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