Reprints from past Deerfield websites
Anyone whoever went to a fly casting seminar must know that old bromide, "A forward cast is only as good as your backcast,” usually said after your umpteenth very bad forward cast. Such profundity was never enlightening. Nor did I get much out of the books and videos. Despite attention to detail,I could never manage much of anything, backward or forward. Were I lucky enough to cast a perfect loop every thousandth time, I still didn’t know how it happened. This went on for years.
Then, one day, after my usual three or four hours of flailing, I felt a peculiar sensation. On one of those aimless attempts, my casting hand seemed to drift forward on its own, slanting to the outside about thirty degrees. Then, while going into the back cast, I noticed that instead of lifting the rod, I was extracting it. I thought it was just fatigue and would turn into another raggedy attempt. But the physical epiphany continued as I was to realize later that nature was already having its way.
The linear movement of the extraction had released the line’s surface tension so I was able to make a clean, quiet slide off the water. The cast came after I couldn’t extract any further, briskly twisting the rod back in thirty degrees and hauling line for the best speed-stop move ever. The line went up and straight back, never veering to the side as it often did, a tell-tale precursor to a deadly tailing loop. The rod loaded so authoritatively, maintaining perfect straight-line tension for the forward cast that would complete the top half of the famous fly-casting oval.
I did it again and again, to be sure it was true. And it was. I called it my 30-30 pivot. But science has a different name for this autonomously guided maneuver and it’s called kinesis—a movement that lacks directional orientation and depends upon the intensity of physical stimulation. Indeed, it was this creative breakdown of sorts that is similar to serious exercising where body fiber breaks down and recovers more strongly. No pain, no gain. Kinetic fly casting to the rescue. Nature is smarter.
–Tight lines, Dave Sylvester, prop.
More than a Lever
The fly rod is no longer just a simple spring lever. If anything, in today’s terminology, it has become a “smart” lever. In the past, fly rod design emphasized either flex or modulus. The flex school limits a rod’s action to tip, mid or full-bending rods while the modulus gurus obsess over mechanical fiber strain that measures tensile strength or stiffness.
We have always thought this approach was limited. You can’t have one without the other. If there is any one controlling factor, it’s modulus. Ah, but modulus that can provide certain critically placed power points. For all its plain (yet elegant) appearance, a fly rod can be amazingly complex, as we discovered three years ago, rather accidentally.
The accident involved a tip that came out bent after being heat-cured. Rather than toss it, we used the lower half as an insert between the tip and second section. The result was more than remarkable; it would foretell our future.
Using the same idea, we began designing rods with inserts at other points on our basic four-piece model. And yet, impressive as these results were, the test models were probably lucky to be made at all because the concept seemed so diametrically opposed to traditional fly rod tapers that proceed in evenly measured thousandths of an inch—generally .003 for trout and .005 for salmon and saltwater.
Up to now, rod makers still swear by this homogeneous design but our research soon proved that spring lever power dissipates considerably over the length of any arithmetic taper. The inserts, on the other hand, boost the rod’s line speed while providing greater tracking finesse and loop control. Totally authoritative!
The way it evolved was kind of Darwinian. If one looks at the basic precept of Darwinism, that mutation is the essence of natural evolution, then these mutations are, if not genetic, at least a true mechanical turnabout.
The Darwin allusion isn’t so far-fetched either when one recalls that other crucial aspect of Darwinism—adaptation, where Deerfield’s new VestPak rods can serve well. How often has an angler come to water he never expected—say, a half mile of riffles, changing to a long deep pool or some mirror-smooth slicks that call for a radical change in line weight and fly species. Then imagine the inserts and spools to a four-mode rod handling 6-, 5-, 4- and 3-weight line stowed in the back of your vest.
Indeed, it is the inserts—at the tip plus one above or below the mid-section and sometimes above the butt—that form the basis of Deerfield’s VestPak concept. In addition, all of our rods feature a shortened parabolic butt section while the first stripping guide is just 25 inches from the butt end, five inches closer than standard guide spacing. Both represent two incredibly new power points, providing compressed modulus at these two stations. To prove it, tape a stripping guide on your rod at the 25-inch mark and feel the difference. All told, a glorious accident and it didn’t take eons to get there.
More than a Lever