What Makes the Fly Fly

June 11, 2008 By: Marshall Cutchin

Back in 1999, Curtis Rist wrote an article for Discover magazine on the physics of fly casting. It’s worth reading again to remind ourselves how we manage to deliver a fly to a target that is sometimes a hundred feet away. Rist points out that while the smartest folks in the world are challenged to reduce fly casting to a mathematical formula, the physics of achieving momentum with a fly line are apparently simple: “Bullwhips operate under the same principle as the fly line: Energy travels from the arm to the thick end of the whip all the way down to the tapered tip, which accelerates wildly as the mass decreases. The characteristic crack of the whip results not from the tip snapping to the ground, but from the tip literally breaking the sound barrier and producing a concussion of sound waves.” On FindArticles.com.