Curing fly-casters elbow

Don Oliver | Special to the Drum

For 2014 I set a goal to improve my casting. In order to do that, I felt I really needed to understand the cause and effect of what I was doing. This task took an enormous amount of dedication. I had to make thousands and thousands of casts. I read articles and books on casting. My goal was not catching fish; it was putting the fly where I wanted it to go, every time, in all types of conditions. That, of course, meant I had to travel to where the weather was nicer than winter in the mountains. My dedication to this task was monumental.

The end result of all the travel, and hours upon hours of casting, was that my casting really improved. I believed I now understood the movement patterns of my cast and used them to my benefit. I did this with both my right and left hands. At one stopping point I had someone want to know if I was right-or left-handed. They couldn’t see any difference in my casting stroke. I felt on top of the world.

However, all this casting created a big problem. I developed fly caster’s elbow. I know most of you have no sympathy for me, but it really was painful. However, I have found a real help for the fly-fisher who wants to improve his casting pain free.

My grandson received a practice rod for Christmas. It is a very short and light fly rod with no reel. There are guides for a thick and soft light line to go through. Attached to the thick line is a thinner woven line that acts as a leader. The rod is balanced for this line set up. These practice rods are made by several rod manufacturers and can be purchased at any fly shop.

I soon discovered, while testing his present, it cast very similar to a full-size rod. I found you could over and under power the rod, cast tailing loops, and get wind knots in the leader. It is also short enough to use indoors. The furthest you can cast is about 10 feet, so your den will work just fine. If you don’t have a vaulted celling practice a side arm cast. If all the Christmas decorations are still up, use a roll cast. This is truly a great piece of fly fishing equipment.

Now, here is where it can help fly caster elbow. The rod is so light that the movement pattern for a good cast doesn’t take much muscle strength. Had I had one of these last year my elbow would not need medical attention. I could have cut my travel time and budget in half. That would of course have allowed me to plan more fishing trips in 2015 to catch more fish with my newly understood and improved cast.

I plan to obtain a practice rod of my own since my grandson caught me trying to put his rod in my truck for safekeeping at my house. He is pretty protective of his equipment when Grumps is around.


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