Power Zones
By Captain Paul Darby (QRRFISH1), Shalimar, FL

By this time if you're still reading this, you pretty much should have figured out that I don't seem to follow anybody's train of thought. So this installment won't be any exception.

Making better decisions is based upon information you can understand and verify in a real world way. I'm pretty sure when I say fly rods are tapered, it's not going to come as a shock to anybody. On the other hand, how much consideration have you given to that fact? Fishing rods are tapered for a reason; it makes them far more interesting to fish with. Of course along with the choices, come all the complexities of understanding what works for each individual in a given set of circumstances.

Now I've talked about reducing friction to make lifting the line off the water easier. However there's more to the story than just getting the line in the air easier.

There's a very different feel and a completely different dynamic involved, depending on how you put the line in the air and it will greatly effect the decisions you make thru the entire process of presenting the line on both the back and forward stroke. The harder it is to put the line in the air, the harder you're going to recourse the steps in the other direction. Folks it's just human nature.

Remember the line is moving from a liquid medium to a far less dense air medium. Line moves much easier thru the air than it does thru the water. In the process of putting the line in the air you have less than a second to make all the decisions involved in calculating the exact amount of stroke pressure, length of stroke, loop size and direction.

Now if you add to that, the signals your getting from the grip depending on the decisions you made as to how you're going put the line in the air, it's easy to see how things get complicated real quick. If for example, you try and lift twenty-five feet of line off the water without the benefit of drawing the line with the line hand, to reduce friction, the effect will feel as if the line is much heavier, because the mechanical advantage of the lever is working against you.

With so little time to sort it all out, you may and most do, fall back on instinct to judge the amount of stroke pressure to apply to recourse the line in the other direction. Also it is likely that you will overload the rod, causing the rod to bend more deeply.

The greater bend in the rod will set an energy path for the line to follow that becomes a large arching loop. Large loops are in most situations, simply put: inefficient. There are of course no absolutes, and my opinions are as subjective as anybody else's. What I would suggest is take a rod to the water. Lay out 25 feet of line water. Now, without drawing the line with the off hand, just draw the line off the water several times. Pay special attention to the flex of the rod and the feel in the grip. When you think you have a good idea of the feel and the look of the rod under a water load, fix the line to a stationary object. Park your car on the leader, tie it around a rock, have your buddies girlfriend hold the tippet for you. (I especially like the latter one.) At that point lift the rod to about 45 degrees till you see and feel the same resistance as you saw and felt when you were drawing the line off the water. Study the line path and the rod curve it will show you a lot about the effective power zones in your blank. If on the other hand you're studying the wrong curves, find a rock to tie the line to.

Next, repeat the same process, but this time draw the line off the water with the off hand to relieve some of the load on the rod, and again pay special attention to the flex and the grip pressure. The difference you should see in the curve or load in the rod may give you opening insights into understanding and learning to use the power zones of the rod you're using.

On a side note, this is also a good way to judge that next purchase of a rod your considering. If you're satisfied with a particular rod action because it just suits you well and you know what that action looks and feels like in a static test, have the salesmen hold the line while you look and feel for the action your considering. This of course does two important things, one it will give you a clear sight picture of the rods taper and power zones, but it also gets that pesky salesman about 20 feet away from you while you consider the price. ~ Capt. Paul

Have a question? Email me! captpaul462@aol.com

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