I have recently been introduced to two teaching methods that seem to break the rules of fly casting instruction. One I saw as a demonstration and the other is on Youtube and both, in my opinion, are brilliant.
Generally when teaching fly casting you start with either the roll cast or a pickup and lay down, then move on to falsecasting, shooting line and finally double hauling. If we start in the middle we would start with falsecasting, if we start at the end we would start with the double haul.
There are a few things that are always difficult to get over to a student like, the backcast has to be as good as the front, how important loop formation is and, the worst of all, not cast just using the wrist. From that point of view it really doesn’t matter where you start, it’s always going to be a struggle to get those concepts over to the student. So, why not chuck them into the deep end and go straight to the most difficult thing for a caster to learn, the double haul.
It’s a bit like how my wife reads a book, read the last page first then the rest of it makes sense!
They have to work out timing, stopping the rod, loop formation and using two hands, if they can grasp that then the rest is relatively easy. When you go back to the beginning (roll cast or pick up and lay down) my guess would be that they would only have to be shown a couple of times and they would get it straight away.
Starting at the conventional beginning every new cast we try to teach has to be explained and concepts described. If we start at the end the student will have had to learn most of this and they will have experienced, and have a greater understanding of, the mechanics of flycasting.
I am going to try and marry this to Lee Cummings method that he demo’d in Scotland, which means I won’t be starting at the end but in the middle, then I will go to the end, then back to the beginning.
Right, who’s first?
And the amazing thing is I actually caught some fish, four nice rainbows around the 5lb mark, one small one and a bonus brownie of about 2 1/2lb, that was my c&r limit so after a cup of coffee I decided to get one for the pot, only to beat a hasty retreat when a thunder storm suddenly blew up before I could catch it. Gods way of telling me c&r is the way to go I suppose.
Stowting trout lake is my local water and I used to fish it a lot, but in recent years I have only fished there two or three times a year. It’s run by an 83 year old wind surfing nut, and his wife, who lives in fear about what he is going to take up next!. I may have to go there more often though, it seems that it is where the locals go to find a casting instructor, by local I mean Kent. First a husband and wife want to have flycasting lessons so they can fish together and then there will be a group of four lads who are coming back to fly fishing and want some instruction. It’s a bit like waiting for a bus, none for hours and then six turn up together.
I do have a soft spot for Stowting, I spent my childhood there, I went to school, went to Sunday school and the youth club (whatever happened to them?) and had my first kiss.
I have been ferreting around trying to find out where I have been going wrong (see previous post). If you Google my name I am No1, numero uno, the big cheese. Type in fly casting instructor and it’s an entirely different kettle of fish. If you use Google.com I get a mention on page 2, if you Google.co.uk you will be considerably older than you are now before you even get a hint I even exist. I think the problem is that WordPress, who host this blog, is a .com so Google assume I am one as well. I am missing out on the entire .co.uk market. The other problem is what people type in to find an instructor ‘flycasting instructor’,’ flycasting lessons’. Is flycasting one word or two, should there be a dash between fly and casting? Buggered if I know, and if I don’t, I don’t suppose anyone looking for flycasting lessons does either.
Interesting stuff eh, there is more to this blogging than meets the eye.
If anyone out there has any suggestions then please let me have them
Having been away enjoying myself I have had time to reflect about the purpose of this blog.
The main reason I started it was to advertise myself as a fly casting instructor and in that respect it has been a complete failure. I have not had one enquiry that came directly from the blog. I suspect the reasons are quite complex, the recession, the part of the country I live in and not hitting my target audience.
The upside has been that for the most part I have enjoyed writing it. But, I have allowed myself to get carried away with chasing hits and put myself under pressure to keep updating the content. I’m not a Paul Arden or Lasse Karlsson, I don’t write technical articles about the mechanics of fly casting. I don’t pretend to have their level of understanding, which sort of limits the depth of my articles, not that I want to delve too deep anyway.
It was never supposed to be anything other than moderately informative and entertaining, a sort of toe dipping exercise for those of you that might be thinking about taking up fly fishing or considering improving your flycasting.
I have decided that there is more than enough content to do that. From now on I will add content when I have something worth writing about. Basically I’m taking away the pressure to keep adding new content just for the sake of it.
Now that pressure (and it was starting to get to me) is gone I am going to try and work out how to hit my target more effectively and get this blog to do what it was originally supposed to do, ie, bring in the punters.
Incidently, if any of you feel the urge to have an article posted please feel free to send one to me. It need not necessarily be about flycasting but it should certainly be fly fishing related.
Phew, I feel better already.
Not sure where this is going, just make up a title and build something around it. It’s a bit like being lost, you have an idea where you want to get to but you won’t know if you made it until you get to wherever it is you end up, and then discover you went in the wrong direction and have a five mile hike back to where you want to be.
I don’t really understand why fly fishers are not more interested in flycasting, after all it’s the basis of the whole thing. Do we fly fish for any other reason than that we find an asthetic pleasure in presenting a fly to a fish in such a way that they are fooled into taking something made from metal, fur and feathers. Let’s face it, there are simpler ways of doing it, ones that don’t require such a level of ability to get the bait to the fish.
I know I managed for years to catch the odd fish without one formal casting lesson, and more to the point, any understanding of the mechanics of flycasting. I have mentioned before that every cast was an adventure, I soon gave up stripping lures because a) I wasn’t casting far enough, and b) I was having to cast every thirty seconds. I soon discovered that I could make one cast fish for ten minutes or more if I put a midge pupa on ( but only one midge otherwise I tangled up). I still caught fish and there wasn’t the anxiety of making repeated casts every few seconds. I may just be naturally talentless, who knows. I’m not saying my fishing pleasure was any less, I just made sure the wind wasn’t blowing the line into me, it wasn’t blowing straight at me, there were no trees or bushes or fences behind me. Nope, a nice breeze from behind and no obstructions, and I was prepared to walk miles to find the perfect spot!. If I had bothered to learn to cast properly I could have spent many more hours with a fly in the water rather that wandering around trying to find somewhere where the wind was coming from behind.
Was I, am I, the only fly fisher to suffer this? Surely not.
I think what I am asking is, why don’t more fly fishers take casting lessons? Are most of them born with the God given talent to cast? Judging by some of the truly appalling casting I see on the banks then the answer is a resounding no. No one needs to false cast twenty times to make a forty foot cast, and then bugger it up by giving the final delivery a mighty heave that collapses the cast. Perhaps they feel the need for some vigerous exercise.
Someone put up a challenge on Sexyloops a few years ago. Starting with only 20′ of line outside the rod, cast 100′ with only one backcast. With a bit of creative thinking it it’s quite do-able. So, getting your fly back on the water with only two or three falsecasts is what you should be aiming at. If you are on a small river you may not even cast one overhead cast all day, you just roll, snake or spey your way up or down stream. These are all cool casts to learn.
I know there is a lot more to catching fish than being able to cast properly, but by God it helps.
This years annual gathering of Sexyloopers was the best ever. From an Instructors viewpoint it was outstanding. The uninhibited exchange of information, and the way it was presented, was a real credit to all the flycasting organisations that were represented. There were some stand out demonstrations, and I don’t think that anyone would argue that Lee Cummings was the best of the weekend. That’s not to say that any of the others were anything other than brilliant, but, Lee’s was, I think, unique.
We had a total of eleven nationalities altogether. I never heard a cross word, or a moan, all weekend.
The local ‘loopers went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I’m not sure if Ben Dixon is claiming full credit for all the organisation but who ever it was did a fantastic job.
Things I learned? Well, I need to go fishing more often for one, I was so out of touch it was almost embarrassing. Those Scottish stockies are a damn sight more subtle in their takes than my usual southern counterparts ever are, and, the buggers fight back. If you’re ever in the area you should have a day at Mike Barrio’s Haddo fishery and if you fish the River Don take a sinking line and some great big Wooly Buggers, you might need them.
Regardless of where the next gathering will be I am going to try and get back up to Inverurie, and this time I will catch a few fish.
If you are a beginner, or thinking about taking up fly fishing, you have a few ways of learning what it is all about. If, like me, you come to it from a course fishing background you are almost half way there. You understand fish and fishing, you know how to tie a few knots, you know how to play a fish and how to handle it. Basically, all you need to do is learn to fly cast, what flies to use, where and when, are things you pick up quite quickly as you go fishing. If you are especially lucky you will tag along with someone who knows what they are doing and, with luck, your fly fishing education will be quite rapid. You don’t have to have a casting lesson or two but I think you will save yourself a lot of painful and frustrating hours if you do.
If you are a true novice to any type of fishing then starting fly fishing may seem pretty daunting. What rod, reel, line, what’s a leader? What fly? When ,where and how. So many questions, and answers you don’t understand. Find an Instructor. After a couple of hours you may have more questions than answers, it doesn’t matter, you have put your foot on the ladder and the only way is up.
Which ever you are you can count yourself lucky that you live in the age of the computer. There is such easy access to information via the Internet that it will make your head spin. Joining a forum may be a bit daunting the first time you do it but you can remain anonymous if you want, just pick a user name. I have a couple that don’t relate to my name. I originally used a user name because I thought it was the thing to do. On Sexyloops I am ‘Victor’, as in grumpy old git Victor Meldrew. Nice joke, I thought, only no-one ever got it, mainly because the Board ( the Sexyloops forum) is so international no-one had heard of poor old Victor, now I am stuck with him as my Alta ego, so, be careful what name you choose.
This will probably be my last post for a week or more, I am off up to Bonny Scotland to meet up with the bunch of reprobates, most of whom I call friends, that inhabit the Sexyloops Board. The Annual ‘loops get together, and this time I’m fishing, I don’t care what the weather does to try and put me off.
I don’t think I’m a tackle tart, a reel, to me, is just something that holds line. It has to be functional and work properly, that’s all I ask of it, apart from being cheap, of course. I would have to be a multi millionaire before I even considered buying a top end reel that cost’s the earth and then the moon and stars to have a couple of spare spools to go with it. Apart from anything else the fishing I do just doesn’t justify it. If I fished the salt I might just go out and buy a reel that will cope with saltwater and fish that fight back, but even then cost and funtionality would take priority over hyped up marketing. No, I prefer reels that come with several spare spools and if I want more they will only cost a tenner.
Lines are something else I don’t buy a lot of, unless they are worn out. I find one I like and stick with it. The one I use most for fishing costs £25 and lasts me years. I have found another that I like a lot, I used it for my CCI test, but it costs nearly twice as much and only lasts half as long, guess which one I will fish with?
I even begrudge spending a small fortune on high end rods. My rod cupboard might suggest otherwise, but several of these were needed when I was learning distance casting. My wife wonders why I need ‘another?’ rod, she just doesn’t understand that rods do different things, one’s enough surely. You and I know differently, don’t we. Besides, I just don’t go out and buy a rod I like, it has to have a purpose, if it didn’t I would have a couple of Scott S4′s and a couple of Winston Bii x’s as well, not to mention a Z axis and/or a TCX or two.
A year or two ago I was the highest bidder for a ‘grab bag’ on a charity auction on Sexyloops. No-one knew what was going to be in it, but when it arrived I had a reel, some clothes, some flies, various fly tying tools, plus a hat full of other bit’s and bobs (including the hat) but the best of all were two rods, neither of which I would ever have tried, one was a St Croix Legend Elite, now a favorite fishing rod, and the other was a Targus Pro Series 906, which has become my all time favorite rod, it even got me through my CCI test, if I underline it by one it becomes a pretty good distance rod and if I put a #6 line on it becomes my favorite presentation rod. If the day ever comes that I take my Masters it will be the rod I will use.
Waistcoats (vests) and bags are a slightly different matter. I used to have just one waiscoat and it servered me well for years, but it was beginning to look a bit tatty. I bought a back and front pack system, it had loads of space, which, of course, I proceeded to fill. I carried everything for every eventuality and it ended up weighing a ton. If I just used the front pack the main weight baring strap was around my neck and as I have a problem with one of the discs in my neck I used to be extremely sore by the end of the day. I now use a similar system but the weight is on my shoulders, so I don’t have a problem fishing a long day. I really think I would be a bag person, if only I could find a decent one.
The other sundries I just buy as I need them. I do do through a fair number of leaders so I bulk buy them at the shows I go to. I steer clear of co-polymers, I think they are brittle, and I try not to use fluorocarbons because they just don’t rot away if you are unfortunate enough to lose a peice in a branch, or worse, in a fish. Nope, good old mono for me, most of the time.