Fish ’til it hurts – The trouble with inefficient casting.

11 Mar

Most of us knows what it feels like to ‘overdo’ something. Whether it was work related, sports or spirits, it is never any fun feeling sore after a full day.

Believe it or not there are folks out there who actually fish until it hurts. I happen to be one of them. Or at least I was until recently.

I introduced myself to the sport of fly fishing the way most people pick up the sport. I received a cheap rod set as a gift after making a comment about wanting to try out fly fishing. I drove to the nearest fly shop, and stocked up on half a dozen size 10 elk hair caddis and size 6 wooly buggers. Then proceeded to the closest stocked pond and beat the water to a froth.

My casting was neither elegant nor efficient. (It really isn’t that great now, 10 years later.) But I felt great. I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t care.

I spent my early days over powering casts, and not waiting for my rod to catch up to my casting efforts. I developed a side arm style because the line didn’t make a tailing loop as often. I didn’t really know what a tailing loop was, it just made the leader a big mess. Due to my quest for distance and my lack of discipline, I threw myself at every cast.  I am sure looked a lot like someone throwing a javelin.

Over the years the efforts diminished, and the distance increased until I hit my plateau. Somewhere between 60 and 75 feet was my peak distance. Not bad for a guy who taught himself, or so I thought.

After a big days casting, roughly 4-5 hours of fishing, I would feel exhausted.  My shoulder would hurt, either a searing pain, or a very dull ache.  I just blamed it on anything else, such as other sports, my ergonomics at work, or too much work around the house.

It turns out that I had worked myself into a muscle imbalance from using one of my rotator cuff muscles to power my backcast.  It felt terrible.  A very nice physiotherapist named Bridget helped me through the recovery.  Turns out the recovery from a recurring fly fishing injury is very similar to the activities for other athletes or workers suffering from repetitive stress injuries. Stretching and specific exercises were the cure.

There are many ways to prevent the pain of a repetitive stress injury. The simple tips are to maintain a healthy body weight, exercise regularly, warm up and stretch before activity, maintain good form and posture while casting and fishing, and the hardest one of all, take breaks.  I find taking breaks difficult, my mind just doesn’t say,”Stop and take a rest”, it says “I bet there is a fish right over there.”  I am trying to take some good advice about being patient and observant before approaching the water. I figure that after a brisk walk to the shore, some quick stretches while I am observing a pool would be some effective multi-tasking.

If you are looking for some stretches to work into your pre or post fishing routine check these out from Alba Game Fishing in Scotland.

But recovering and prevention are only half the battle.  I had to change my cast. More on that later.

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