Fly casting is such a simple thing, on the face of it. Yet even after ten years of pretty intensive casting, discussing, instructing and being instructed something comes up to make you look at everything again but from a slightly different angle. The odd thing is you may have to make only some very minor adjustments to what you are already doing. It isn’t necessary to make wholesale changes, it may be as simple as a slightly different visualisation of the whole process of casting a fly line.
The case in point, at the moment, is head casting. I have always appreciated the necessity of slowing down loop speed and I have tried lots of different devises to try to achieve it, none of them particularly effective. For those that don’t understand the dilemma, here is the problem. Once a loop is formed it will travel to the end of the line and turnover. While the loop is unrolling it will pull the shooting line along. Once the loop has unrolled the whole lot will just collapse to the ground way before it would have done if you could have delayed the turn over. Heads, by definition, are much shorter than a normal fly line. They can vary from 30′ to 60′, more or less. Once a loop has formed there is only a very limited time before it turns over and collapses. The shorter the head the worse the problem. This was why I used long heads when trying to discover a way of winning the CLA saltwater comp. It was always a compromise solution and never very satisfactory (and I never won, though I got close one year). My hatred of the T38 and the T120 events at BFCC meetings stem from the same problem, only exacerbated by the fact both are high density lines where line speed and turnover are phenomenally fast and I would watch the loop turn over like lightning and collapse in a bloody heap at a distance I could sometimes achieve with a conventional seven weight. Those of you with a sharp eye may have noticed I cast a reasonably respectable distance at last weekends Brentwood meeting with both the T38 and the T120. Neither are earth shattering but both, as far as I know, represent personal bests. The best thing about them is that I was consistently in the same ballpark with pretty well every cast rather than just managing to get one to a bit further than the others.
Now, apparently, this phenomenon I have finally discovered is not such a big secret. I have discussed it with one or two friends and they have told me they have known about it for years. Well, thanks for telling me about it guy’s. Thank you for making me sweat blood and tears. Thank you for making me look a complete amateur. Thank you for letting me waste endless hours throwing lines that collapse in a mess. Thank you for the disenchanted trudge back home after another hour of pointless practice.
Thank you Ruddi Ferris for finally showing me the way to enlightenment and competence and restoring some self-respect.
How bizarre life is sometimes. Denise Maxwell has raided the blog again and she has selected two or three bits for the FFF Loop magazine. So there I am sandwiched between Bill Gammel and Macauley Lord. A tasty little filler seasoned with a dash of Gordy Hill my, and many other’s, online Mentor. I don’t know how they feel about it, but I feel great, if slightly out-of-place.
After my article in the spring issue I commented that I thought it odd that Denise never received feedback about any of the articles she published. Ho Hum…it would appear I have inadvertently put myself in a position where I can offer some feedback. Of course she may choose to ignore it.
Macaulley Lord’s article about the beginnings of the CIPS and the original association with the FFF were totally new to me, I didn’t realise it was such recent history. I also didn’t realise Denise Maxwell was (is) so highly regarded. I wish I had known, I might have been a bit more respectful when we met in Scotland last year…or maybe not. More of this please. It would help us non-American instructors have a better understanding about what we have joined.
Bill Gammel’s article’ Making adjustments on the fly’ should be compulsory reading for all aspiring CCI’s. Bill can be a bit annoying because, try as hard as you like, he always covers everything. You may think to yourself ah but what about so and so only to discover he explains so and so a paragraph later. Us Sexyloopers were lucky to have had access to it for years.
That’s enough feedback for now, I don’t want to shock the system.
Gonna be a busy weekend. I have to sort out my rods, load some new lines (thanks Mike) and get prepared for the final BFCC meeting of the year. We are going to change the format slightly and I hope it leads towards the creation of a club champion at the same meeting next year. No one event will win, you will need to be really good at two or three and better than awful at the rest. consistency will be the name of the game. This might be the spur I need to actually try to improve my T38 and T120. I have a cunning plan.
Sometimes, just sometimes, it all seems worthwhile. I usually get one worthwhile moment during a BFCC instructing weekend and maybe one or two a year from my own instructing. This is not to say I don’t enjoy all the rest but a few outstanding moments really do make it all worthwhile. And then I get two on consecutive days. Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking a group at Walthamstow. One young lad, Ben, was the only one who had done any fly fishing so had a bit of a head start on the others but he was as keen as mustard and soaked up information like a sponge and then put it into practice. Today I witnessed something quite magical. I gave my usual demo to a couple of students then used Lee Cummings method to get them keeping a line in the air. The young lad, Bobby, was using a cheapy glass fibre rod that he had recently bought while on holiday to have a go at fly fishing a stream. It actually cast quite well but was a bit heavy for a beginner to be casting for a long time so I lent him mine and left him to get used to it while I concentrated on his friend. I kept an eye on him and gave him the bit of advice and I suddenly realised he was casting the sweetest loops. ‘Ok, clever clogs, pull of another three feet and see what happens’. Then minutes later the fantastic loops are back. ‘ Make your back cast a bit higher’. And he does, just like that. These are really nice, tight, loops and consistent. I was more than happy with his progress but thought I would push my luck and teach him to double haul. He had never heard of it but picked up the concept quickly. We did half a dozen pantomimes and then moved on to hauled back cast/drop the line, hauled forward cast/drop the line. Bobby soon had the rhythm so we moved onto continuous false casting. We sorted out a little timing problem and, hey presto, perfect double hauling and beautiful loops. We finished off by casting and shooting to targets to about fifty feet or more. As a final challenge I got him to pick up his own rod and cast it. He could, and did. Fantastic.