The Myth about Skagit Rod/Line Length Ratios
We have often been asked for the “rules” surrounding rod length line length ratios for skagit casting. Well who better to talk about that than the man himself …
… this is part of a thread written by Ed Ward on the skagitmaster forum.
” ….. Skagit Rod/Line length Ratios
– Maximum Line length (belly + tip) – 3.5 times rod length.
– Minimum Line length (belly + tip) – 1.75 times rod length.
These figures are often stated as “rules” and for beginning/novice casters, they should be thought of as such. The max length of 3.5 has been determined by the fact that lines longer than this ratio become increasingly difficult to position and sweep without breaking the arms away from the body. “Breaking away” is counter productive to the “effortless power” aspect of Skagit casting because that effortless power action is dependent on keeping the pivot point of the sweep movement as compact and tight-to-the-body as possible.
The minimum length of 1.75 has been determined by the fact that line lengths less than this ratio are difficult to maintain sufficient anchoring of the line on the water during the forward casting stroke to conduct that forward casting stroke without prematurely blowing the line off of the water.
My recommendation for general purpose casting/angling or entry-level casters is a ratio around 2.75 to 3. Longer ratios of 3 to 3.5 are used for achieving maximum distance as that follows the “longer line, longer casts” rule of flycasting in general. A less-than-2.5 ratio would be selected primarily for tight quarters casting as the shorter the line, the shorter the resulting D-loop. Also, shorter ratios will increase the capacity of any given rod/line system to cast heavier tips and/or flies because “compacting” the overall weight of the line into a shorter package increases the grains-per-foot status of the line.
As stated earlier, these rod/line ratios are presented as “rules”, but for advanced/expert casters that have established an effective, efficient Skagit casting “core” (Sweep-Turnover-Casting Stroke sequence), these rules become guidelines that can be “breached” to accomodate specialized situations. Lines longer than 3.5 can be cast by “breaking away” during line positioning movements, but one must then “re-establish” – AFTER the line is “set” and BEFORE conducting the Sweep – a “tight, fixed, central” casting pivot point… not exactly an easy action for a novice or even intermediate caster to accomplish. Lines less than 1.75 times rod length can be cast by lowering the plane of the Sweep, increasing the speed of the Sweep (to keep the lower altitude line from hitting the water) and narrowing the separation-of-planes action of the Turnover to a measurement of inches… another not-so-conducive-to-novice-casters process. These are actions that demand constant, vigilant attention and as such are only employed for VERY specialized situations, even by expert casters. …”