Muscular Activity during a Fly Fishing Cast: Evaluation and Comparison According to Casting Ability and Fly Rod Type

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Kirk Brumels, Hope College
Dr. Kevin Cole, Hope College

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Prior research, although limited, suggests that the most common fly-fishing injuries occur due to muscular imbalance and overuse caused by biomechanical abnormalities and differences in casting style. Through our research, we investigated the muscle activity of the upper-extremity skeletal muscle during a fly fishing cast. Using surface electromyography (sEMG) we sought to determine the extent of muscular activity during the casting motion. We examined the musculature of the shoulder, rotator cuff, and wrist flexors and extensors. Participants were recruited through a convenience sample, consisting primarily of acquaintances, recommendations and volunteers. This method ensured that there was an adequate representation of both levels of casters with prior knowledge of fly-fishing. We compared across skill levels (novice and advanced) as well as a comparison of rod composition (graphite and bamboo). Also, we used a casting analyzer, developed by the fly fishing company Sage Manufacturing, to record biomechanical data regarding the size of the cast arc, casting symmetry, and smoothness ratio, among other variables. We compared these statistics among participants within their relative skill groups, as well as across rod composition type. This research bettered the understanding of the muscular activity involved in the fly fishing cast. This information will be used to develop fly-casting injury prevention programs, similar to those involved with other recreational activities such as tennis, golf, and skiing.


This research was funded by Carl Frost Research Center

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