I don’t know about other sports but in fly casting less is often more. Big open back cast loops? Try backing off the power and concentrating on the stop. Want to cast that little bit further, don’t hit the delivery so hard, just keep doing what you were doing while false casting and let the line shoot.
Pure distance is not about out and out brute strength. I bet those of you that practice distance find that your longest casts are often when you are just throwing a few to warm up or at the end of a practice session when you are a bit knackered. I also bet that the longest casts have seemed effortless.
The brain is a strange thing, instead of telling you to stop and have a think about why you are not casting as far as you did yesterday it tells you to try harder and harder, more effort will sort it out. It took me a few years and several painful injuries to finally figure that one out. Having a tape out is a good thing but it is also a bad thing because you get obsessed with casting as far as you can and technique can go out of the window as the red mist takes over and you push harder and harder to beat the bloody thing. If you are a 100′ caster it often helps to drop back to 90′ and work on getting there with less effort and good form, ingrain some proper muscle memory.
The problem is that now and then you manage to couple effort with good technique and blast out a good one which re-enforces the more effort syndrome.
Back off, concentrate on setting up a beautiful back cast that is under perfect control. Sort out your tracking so that you are casting a perfect 180 deg. Take control of your brain, don’t just leave it in neutral, think about what you are trying to achieve with this cast. If it doesn’t work try and figure out why it didn’t work. Break the cast down into manageable pieces. This can take a while because to begin with everything seems to happen so fast but with a bit of practice you can split the back cast and the forward cast. Now split the back or fore cast into two bits, right hand and left hand. Take the line out of the equation altogether and go through the motions using just the rod, do it slowly, work out where you want to be at all stages of the stroke. Look at your stance, where can you get the most leverage. Look at the way you shift your weight from back to front or front to back. Look at your shoulder, is it allowing the rod to track straight or is it making you curve your hand path. What is your hand path, is it a straight punch? Is the hand too high; never go above head height. Are you sure you’re doing what you think you are doing? I bet you’re not. Film yourself from the side and from head on. Stand by for a shock!
I had the chance to Watch Steve Rajeff cast last weekend and if you were lucky enough to be there you may think he puts a lot of effort into his casting but if you break it down all of his effort is in the delivery, the setup is very relaxed, but, beware, Steve is pretty unique in his delivery. He has figured a way of putting the whole of his body, from his toes to his pinky finger, into that delivery. Not something that is easy to replicate for us mere mortals.
Because nearly all of my casting practice is on grass I have had to develop a way to roll cast on grass, close anchor and a biggish D loop. All fine and dandy for grass. However it does lead to some bad habits that have to be sorted out whenever water becomes involved and the grass style just won’t do if you are going to be tested. You can have a much shallower D loop and the anchor can be a lot further away on water. The rod can also be a lot more upright, which is what an examiner would want to see. This is because the anchor will stick where it is placed as the fly, leader and line will be gripped by the surface of the water so that the tension created by the stroke isn’t lost. On grass, the moment you begin the forward stroke the tag slips.
I have pondered this problem and come up with a piece of equipment that not only solves the anchor problem but also requires you to be accurate, so you get two for the price of one.
An eventful week. Roger, Alex and I drove up to Wrexham to meet Mike Marshall, John and the rest of the BFCC gang for a meeting at the rugby ground. Before you know it the car park is full and we have thirty people waving fly rods around as if their lives depended on it. Nice people as well, so that’s a bonus. How come only nice people take up fly fishing? Anyway, a great day was had by all, I hope. I didn’t do very well in the competitions. I’m not sure why, perhaps I was just a bit distracted by all the instructing going on. However, it is nice to see some new faces on the leader board and some younger blood coming through.
My article, Comfort Zone, has been published in the FFF ezine ‘The Loop’ which is a very nice feeling. I hope it is taken for what it is and people enjoy it.
Can’t say the same about some of my posts on here being used though. That’s an entirely different feeling, sort of gut wrenching. I have to admit that what I write here is generally not written for anyone but me. Yes, I hope the posts entertain and are, hopefully, informative, but their main purpose is to clarify some of the rubbish going around in my head. I very rarely sit and construct a piece. I mostly just sit here and type the first thing that comes into my head. It is a very odd feeling to have the posts taken away from the context they were written in and see them displayed where my idle musings are going to be read by the good and the great of the fly casting world. Denise Maxwell, the editor, was very generous (or perhaps foolhardy) in that there was very little, or any, editing done that I could see. Brave woman, I hope she keeps her job.
While on the subject of ‘The Loop’; Denise told me she never gets any feedback or comments to any of the articles that are published. I find that a bit strange. On the face of it that means that everything written is taken as gospel and therefore above criticism. I am a child of the Sexyloops school of question everything and find the attitude of not questioning anything a bit odd, not to say disconcerting. I appreciate that a quarterly publication may be a cumbersome way of debating something but surely not everyone agrees with all the stuff that’s written there, do they? To be honest, if I didn’t get any comments I would worry that I wasn’t being read at all. Perhaps Denise could persuade the FFF to link a forum to The Loop so that there is a bit more immediacy about debates to some of the articles. After all, if we didn’t debate we would still be accepting that the primary purpose of double hauling was to load the rod and we all know that’s rubbish (don’t we?).
Here is to the next one hundred posts.
Just to keep you informed I twenty-five beans have popped their heads up so far.
KISS, stirred up a storm. That and the fact I am having to think more about casting because I am helping a friend prepare for the FFF CCI test has really made me consider how I use the information I have learned over the years.
Anyone I help prepare for the test has stepped outside the usual boundaries of the student/instructor relationship. I no longer have to consider how little I tell them, or ways of getting a concept over simply. I now have to work out how to get the knowledge I have over to a potential CCI, someone who actually wants to know how things work. I find the whole process quite liberating because I can use the whole vocabulary of the fly casting language. I can expand and expound on the minutia I would normally steer well clear of. Questions are raised and my answers have to be considered (and hopefully correct). It even forces me to re-evaluate the way I look at some aspects of fly casting and fly casting instruction. I love it. I often wonder which one of us has learned the most in the previous couple of hours.
Lesson of the week; clean your fly line before going fishing. I didn’t and suffered for it. Nothing makes you look a prize idiot more that a line that won’t shoot through the rings cleanly.
Second lesson of the week; if you know there is going to be a hatch of Mayflies take some bloody Mayfly patterns with you!
This is post number ninety-nine on this blog. I don’t have a clue what number one hundred will be about but I should make the effort and make it a good one but more than likely I will just sit at the keyboard and tap out the first thing that comes into my head, as usual.
Oh. Good news of the week; Denise Maxwell has accepted an article I wrote for the FFF online ezine, The Loop. I will be a published author! I also gave her permission to raid the blog if she ever needed a filler. Apparently I use some English idioms that might need some interpreting for an American audience. Lets hope nothing gets lost in translation.
The most exciting thing in my life at the moment is counting how many runner beans have germinated over night. I’m quite a keen gardener but things are a bit sad if the highlight of my day is finding another shoot or two in the bean row. We’re up to ten now, if you are interested.
I won’t bore you with the sordid details but like so often in my life I either have time and no money or money and no time. Time on my hands has one or two benefits though, the garden hasn’t been so tidy and weed free for years.
I am finally doing something active to promote my casting instruction and I have plenty of time to go out and practice all the casts I will need for my Masters. I do rather enjoy working out how I can get the fly to one place and my line in another. I do have one bogey cast that I have never got anywhere near mastering and that is the steeple cast, thank God I have never found myself in a situation where I actually need to perform it. I watched Paul do it (again) at the course and shootout we had at his place last weekend. I keep forgetting to film it. His upward cast (the steeple bit) is vertically in front of him, I can do that bit. What I just cannot figure out is how to get a decent cast back out in front of me, I just end up with a messy pile a rod length out.
I will be in Wrexham next Sunday for the BFCC. It looks as if it will be a great day. We are fully subscribed and I wouldn’t mind betting one or two will just turn up on the day.
The following weekend I am hoping to go and see Steve Rajeff cast, in the flesh, at Sportfish.
That’s something to look forward to.
Right, let’s go see if any more beans are up.