Strange how things come back to bite you. One day I have very firm views about instructing the next day something happens to make me review those opinions. I belong to an online group for instructors and we have recently been discussing the different characteristics of pupils and how we can change the way we approach our lessons to tailor the lesson to suit their particular way of learning. All very well if you have a degree in psychology and have the ability to alter your approach. I am generally more pragmatic in the way I instruct. I am also an increasingly a keep it simple instructor, certainly a lot more laid back than I used to be anyway. There are certain areas I now hesitate to go into with the majority of pupils. Of course some of the more advanced ones need to start to know the why’s and wherefores so that they can start to work things out for themselves.
I am currently refining my technique for absolute beginners, a mixture of Lee Cummings, Mark Surtees and Jim Fearne, plus one or two ideas of my own. Of course all students are different and you need the ability change tack if things are not working out quite the way we hoped but you do need a basic strategy to start each lesson and then take it from there, depending on results. The idea of working out which learning group the pupil is in, even if I could, is just not the way I work. When I do all day 15 minute lessons for the BFCC there isn’t a hope in hell if profiling your pupil before you start the lesson, you dive in and hope you give them something useful in the time allowed. The same with group lessons, although I do try to get those of similar abilities casting together it isn’t always practical.
So, what has made me revise my opinion? Yesterday I had one of those pupils it was a real pleasure to instruct and it became obvious that he needed to the know the ‘why’s’ as well as the ‘hows’ and I found myself going a lot deeper into the technical stuff than I would normally do, even with a quite advanced caster. I am sure that now he understands the ‘why’s’ he will practice more effectively and when we meet up in a month or two he will be an accomplished caster. He only took ten minutes to learn the double haul as well, which is always satisfying for an instructor.
This is the first time for years I have not attended the CLA game fair but the results of some of the competitions are gradually filtering my way. Young Joe Avery-Harris, who gave me a torrid time at the recent BFCC event at Sportfish, is UK junior Trout and Salmon distance Champion and came third in the saltwater comp. Super well done Joe. Jonathon Tomlinson is recovering from a heavy night of celebration after winning the Saltwater comp. Well done Tomo, I’m jealous
The BFCC has age groups for records. It appears I hold three records …….for my age group (S60). I understand some of you may be shocked I am not as young as it may appear here but then you don’t look back at me from the bathroom mirror every morning and see what I see. Anyway, back to the point (there is one?) I am casting quite well at the moment. I even popped three consecutive 130′+ casts last week with my five weight, I don’t think I have ever done that before, so I hoped my form would stay with me until the Sportfish meeting, and luckily it did. I threw a 125 something. I won the event but didn’t give it any other thought. I was informed this morning that it is a new S60 record. I didn’t realise I had cast further than when I originally broke the outright record with a cast of 121′ a few years ago, which was taken from me by Paul Arden a couple of years ago. I didn’t consider that cast as anything special because I have thrown hundreds, if not thousands of casts over 125 in practice. To be honest I was more pleased with the nine weight distance I threw with a rod and line I had never cast before. It even, very briefly, held the outright record. Then fifteen year old Joe threw one over three feet further. Youngster’s today! They have absolutely no respect for their elders. I was tempted to throw him in the lake but realised a hernia wasn’t worth the risk. As it happens young Joe is an outstanding talent, I wish there were more like him about. Luckily time is really no barrier to learn to cast really well. Mike Marshall is Methusala’s second cousin and he took my seven weight record from me and I was over fifty when I came back to flycasting and caught the distance bug. I have said that at my age the only way is down, but, I keep improving and proving the lie. And, provided you are reasonably physically fit, there is no reason why you can’t get better and better either. A little bit of application and some help along the way and you too could get beaten by a fifteen year old.