Now and then you meet a personal hero and are not disappointed. I had talked to Charles Jardine a few times but only in passing. Last year I finally plucked up the nerve to introduce myself properly. I was beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable that he might think I was stalking him when he kept seeing my eyebrows whenever he did a demo, I’m sure I saw a look of alarm cross his face more than once when he spotted me in the audience! After we has chatted for a while I asked him for a lesson and he agreed. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do it last year, what with one thing and another. However, I bumped into him at the Newark and asked if he had any free time at the Detling show he demo’s at and could he fit me in there, he kindly agreed. He also agree that, friend and fellow BFCC member, Mark Surtees was welcome to join us. Well if you don’t ask you don’t get, do you.
Mark and I turned up early and eventually found Charles. ‘So, what do you want to work on?’ Mark and I had discussed this and we had decided finesse was what we wanted. ‘Ok,’ say’s CJ,’. but I need to see you casting first’. Now, I consider myself to be quite a reasonable caster, so it came as a bit of a shock that Charles said he had seen enough after only two strokes!! It wasn’t so much that he had seen something that needed correcting, it was how little time he had needed before he had worked out what needed correcting. As most who have had a lesson with me will tell you I’m quite big on less power, no, less than that. ‘Kin hell!, Charles had me casting with even less than less than that. I spent the next hour using less and less and tweaking thisnthat, as did Mark. I think we both came away slightly bemused at how our fly lines still managed to stay in the air and still managed to turn over. We both came away with a smile on our faces and feeling we had been worked over by a true master of his art. So, that’s a huge thank you from both Mark and I Charles, you’re a gent.
Mark had brought his young son Nick with him and he and Charles’ dog Midge had a great time while we had our lesson, so much so that Charles decided to use both of them in the out-door demo he did later. Being the true pro he is CJ dismissed the old adage about working with animals and children, and probably regretted it soon after, but it was great fun to watch.
Work has temporarily dried up and I have time on my hands so it’s a good job the weather has cheered up and I can get on with things that have been put off during the awful winter. Production has started in the veg garden with potatoes, onions and various seeds going in. Going online to find the bits and bobs I need to make up the T38 rod. I am going to bling it up so that I have to be able to cast it well or get the piss taken unmercifully when I cast it at meetings.
I have stayed loyal to Mick Bells Bloke XL50 seven weight for my seven distance casting, it has after all, held the BFCC seven weight distance record, although it was pipped by Mike marshall a while ago. I want the record back so I need something a bit meatier and I may have found it, and for less than £90. I suspect it’s quite low modulus carbon, which is no bad thing because it’s much harder to break than the high modulus stuff, and, I do intend to give it some welly.
I have been fishing again and I am relearning just how frustrating trout can be. One minute you think you have sussed them out for the day and an hour later, and having tried half the flies in your box, you realise you haven’t. Especially frustrating when fish are taking something just under the surface and there is no apparent hatch going on. I do prefer to try to work out what the buggers are eating but with time running out I usually resort to shaking them out of their preoccupation and pulling something across their noses. Because the fish were working their way upwind in a nice ripple, and therefore quite predictable, I decided on smallish olive damsel. Bingo, instant success. I caught and released the last two fish to finish my day off.
Much more time off and I am sure my wife will find things for idle hands to do. So I had better make hay while the sun shines.
A strange day on the water. I don’t recollect fish reacting to being hooked like it before. No runs or leaps just a twisting figure of eight in the same spot, a couple even carried on for a few moments after I had released them. One in particular, that I hooked close in, twisted and spun so rapidly that it wound the leader around itself several times and eventually came to the net backwards, I thought, at first, that I had foul hooked it in the tail, but no, the fly was firmly in the scissors. It’s possible they were Blue’s, they certainly hit the fly hard, which is a blue trait. Rainbows don’t often take that hard and they tend to run and jump. Most of the Blue’s I have caught prefer to stand toe to toe and slug it out like the prizefighter they are.
I also lost a couple after a few seconds. I don’t suffer this problem very often either. I did hook them at quite a distance and I was using a new rod which is a bit softer than I normally use, so perhaps I didn’t set the hook properly. I usually find that fish hook themselves when I get a take far off.
Anyway, a thoroughly good two or three hours sport before they decided to have a mid afternoon siesta.
I did a very unusual thing today, no, not unusual, unique. Something I never intended ever to do….ever. I bought a new rod. Not just any old rod though, oh no, I bought a rod to cast the T38. For those of you that don’t know what T38 is, well done, you’re safer that way. The T38 is my nemesis. It’s the one event I dislike, well somewhere between dislike and hate actually, at BFCC events. I think it used to be called the fishermans fly event except I think they decided no sane fisherman would want to flyfish with something that could take your head off in the right circumstances. The T38 is a 38 grain or gram (I really must find out what the difference is) sinking shooting head that, when combined with a suitable rod, has the embarrassing habit of making you look like a complete clutz. Over the years Mike Marshall has had the odd gentle dig that I really should learn to cast the damn thing properly. The trouble is that I disliked the club T38 rod, the bloody thing was out to try to hurt me every time I picked it up. I have tried one or two other rods that club members had brought along now and then, I didn’t like them either. My scepticism when Mike rang to say he had found a blank I might get on with was, as you can imagine, rather on the high side, but hey ho, nothing ventured nothing gained. The chance of an hour casting with Mike was worth the diesel on its own.
So, you can imagine my surprise to be handed a light, and obviously responsive, rod instead of the broomstick I was expecting. We went to the field and strung it up and, bugger me, it was a pleasure to cast. I probably made the longest casts I have ever made with the T38, not that that is anything to boast about, yet.
I’m off out to practice T38 is not something I thought I would ever hear myself saying.
Watch this space.
What can I do for your casting in fifteen minutes. That’s the time we have at BFCC public days.
The answer is, a surprising amount actually.
It goes like this; Roger, ”Mike this is so and so”.” So and so, this is Mike, who will be instructing you”. ”Hi, can you cast already?, ok, great, what weight rod are you used to?, ok let’s use the seven then”. And off we go. I get them to do a few casts while I work out what, if anything, needs fixing most. I say ‘if anything’ because more than once I have been tempted to grab the rod back and demand a lesson from them!
The two main issues I see are poor timing and no back cast loop. There are often other issues as well, like they cannot haul but insist on holding the line in their other hand and just let it wander aimlessly about while randomly introducing slack and tension at various indeterminate places during their stroke. I’m not complaining by the way, this is what I signed up for when I became an instructor.
Must get on, I only have thirteen minutes left! Ok, Do you know what a loop is? No, I didn’t think you did. Have you ever seen your back cast, No? I’m not surprised, I wouldn’t want to look at it either, but, do you know that if you actually form a loop it will do half the work for you (take rod and demonstrate). See, I can reduce all that effort, the loop just rolls out behind you, I am casting at less than half the speed you were. See? It’s effortless.
Eleven minutes left. Ok, I want you to hold the rod horizontally and make side casts along that line. If you stand like that you can see the back and front loops easily. You have to stop the rod there, and there, see the loop form?, you have a go. No, trap the line with your rod hand, leave the other one in your pocket. Whoa, less effort, no less, no, less than that. Yes, see that loop form, great stuff, oh yes we’re getting somewhere now. Oh beautiful loop there, did you see it, did you notice how effortless that was.
Eight minutes left. Ok, now I want you to raise the rod a bit but keep concentrating on maintaining those loops, always keep good loops. Raise it a bit more, nice, yep, really nice. Raise it a bit more. What the f*** was that?.
Five minutes left (slight panic sets in) If it all goes wrong drop the rod to horizontal and start again, that’s it, nice loops again. Raise it, raise it a bit more, and again, lovely stuff. Now I want you to bring the rod up to your normal casting position and start to turn to face the way you are casting. Watch those stops, that’s better, much better, very nice loops. Have you noticed how easy that feels compared to earlier? Yes? Good. I tell you what, with a bit of practice you could be a bloody good caster.
Ok, we have a couple of minutes left, pull a couple of feet off the reel and lets quickly do it again, Nice, did you notice you had to wait a fraction longer for the line to straighten, you did? that’s really good, you must remember that the more line you have out the longer it will take to straighten so the pause must be a bit longer.
MIKE!! What Roger. This is so and so, so and so this is Mike, he will be your instructor. Quickly shake hands with the previous so and so, tell him he could be really good with a bit of practice.
Do you know what? I’m not lying, most of them could become excellent casters….with a bit of practice
Yeah, Yeah, I know it’s not the start of your New Year but it is the start of mine. I get to cast in anger again. Practice has more purpose than just seeing if I can still cast. There are things to look forward to, plans to make, plans to bring to fruition, people to see and places to go. Shall I do this or that.
My New Year started last weekend on a cold and (sometimes) windy field at the Spring Show at Newark. The BFCC holds our first event of the year there. The competition doesn’t take long, we only cast five and seven weights because we are restricted to cast in two directions and the T38 and T120 events are potentially dangerous unless the casting court is set up carefully to take wind direction into account. Trust me, you don’t want to get a slap around the head with either of those two lines. The rest of the two days are taken up with 15 minute casting lessons or people trying for their distance badges. I got the impression that overall attendance to the show was a bit down on last year but that didn’t affect the amount of people wanting to improve their casting, we were as busy as last year. Thank goodness we had two more instructors this year, at least it meant we had the chance to grab a quick coffee and a hot dog now and then. I even managed to catch up with a few friends and make one or two new ones.
Mike Barrio’s new Outcast distance line entered the casting fray for the first time, it’s now in production and legal to use in BFCC events. It passed with flying colours, first and second in the five weight and second in the seven. A lot of people made very positive comments about it. I will use it for all my competition casting this year and I have a sneaky feeling some others will give it a go as well.