Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Physics of Fly Fishing

The Physics of Fly Fishing

A recent thread on my Classic Fly Rod Forum about the aerodynamics of fly rods got me thinking about physics. As one of my undergraduate degrees was in the History of Science & Technology, I have always been fascinated by such things, and the discussion brought to mind one of my favorite books -- The Physics of Baseball by Robert Adair. It was a very mind blowing book when I first read it in the late 1980s and remains a book I constantly recommend to friends (and have given away about a dozen times).

So I started thinking about the physics of fly fishing, and discovered some fascinating information. I must not be the only one interested in such things, as even the very popular Discovery magazine did a nice feature on the subject entitled The Whip-Like Physics of Fly Fishing back in 2008. Of interest in this article is the research by Graig Spolek, a mechanical engineering professor at Portland State University, who discovered the way that manufacturers construct fly rods is faulty, physics-wise.

At the University of North Carolina, we get a lesson in the physics of fly fishing that includes some very cool tips on how understanding physics can help you cast better. It's well worth going through.

Even the Physics Central web site has a tutorial on the subject, that includes a nifty video.

The subject is of such interest that Dr. David Lee, a physics professor from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., teaches a yearly seminar in the spring on the quad at his university.

It is an interesting subject and I recommend wading in to some of the literature if it interest you.

-- Dr. Todd

1 comment:

Cath Brookes said...

Great article! One minor correction is needed as the fly line does not uncoil off of the reel during the cast. It must be stripped from the reel in advance of the cast.

Cath Brookes
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