Now, I don’t think I’m a bad caster. Modesty aside, I am actually quite a good caster, so it’s a bit of a blow to the ego (not that I have much of one) to feel very agricultural when casting beside someone like Lasse Karlsson or Stefan Siikavaara . I caught up with them at the FFF Euro-Conclave in Kolding, Denmark, last weekend. I haven’t seen either of them for a couple of years and it was really nice to catch up, however briefly. MCI’s were a bit thin on the ground and all their time was taken up with testing and workshops so they were both in demand for pretty much the whole weekend. However we did get a few minutes casting together at one of the casting pools at the fly fishing show. I saw some rods beside the pool and grabbed one for a waggle. I asked if there was a 9′ five weight there (there was) so I strung it up and gave it a blast. Lasse had a go and suggested we should try to carry the whole line, so we tried. Stefan had a go, I had a go and Lasse had a go (Lasse got closest). I then heard remarks that this was totally inappropriate and why would anyone want to do this with a five weight?? Who from? The guy running the pool for Hardy who’s rods I had hijacked. I told him it’s what we do but I could see he wasn’t impressed so we wound down and gave him his rods back. Mind you if I was Hardy and I had just had my new rod thrashed by some good distance casters, and got it back in its original four pieces, I would be quite chuffed. The rod was the new Sintrex (sp) with nano technology. It was a nice rod, probably great as a fishing rod, it wasn’t a distance stick though. I will have to have a word with Howard Croxon to see if they plan to make one to the same spec as the original Angel TE. I’d buy it. I had a chat with the Hardy guy and had a mini lecture in nano technology. Did you know that one of these nano fibres is soooo small ( actually, small is a pretty inadequate word) that if you had one on your hand it would pass through it? I have a job getting my head around that.
Back to the ‘clave. I had pre booked three workshops to attend. The first one was on Friday and was given by Andrew Stiles ‘casting drills that thrill’. Drew is from one of the southern states and had the laid back drawl and typical American enthusiasm that had us casting at imaginary fish and rat traps as if our lives depended on it. He gave us each a little pack of goodies and we also had a draw for a pair of Habervision sunglasses. Mark Surtees came out first but put them back because he uses prescription glasses. I came out next, and don’t. Result. These are really cool shades man, and, you can get them in bifocals so those of us that need glasses for tying on flies don’t have to keep fiddling around trying to find them, they are already on the end of your nose. I reckon, my next christmas present is sorted. I had an added bonus that Drew gave me the plastic cones he used during the workshop. What a nice man.
Next up was Raffaele Mascaro and single-handed spey casting. Bloody fantastic. Mark and I learned a whole lot about roll casting we didn’t know before.
The icing on the cake, for me, was the MCI workshop taken by Dan McCrimmon. The stuff I learned there was invaluable and I hope I can remember half of it when I take my test. Dan has a very easy style but always gets his point across. One lesson I learned was to keep my mouth shut. I was the only English MCI candidate in the room and the workshop was conducted in English. Once or twice, when I thought one of the others was struggling with the language I, sort of, tried to help out and Dan politely told me to shut up. Just before we went out to do some casting he told us out first task was to pick up 55′ and shoot to 75′. I do this stuff on a regular basis while practicing but I wasn’t sure any of the others did so on the way to the field I asked Dan not to put me up first. Of course he put me up first. Lesson No 2, keep your head down. I learned a shed load of stuff. Thanks Dan.
My only gripe was the show and the conclave were in different venues and I could see that it made organisation a bit problematical and we missed a lot of the show. Hey, I finally got to meet Viking Lars, Jan Man and Bernd Ziesche. I intend to make it my business to spend some time with Bernd next time we are in the same place at the same time. Bernd rocks.
I have missed out a lot of people I met but there were so many. Congratulations to those who passed their tests and comiserations to those who didn’t, this time. Special mention to Chris Price who came over and nailed his MCI and was immediately called on to assist CCI testing. Respect.
See you all in Munich
I decided I had enough of prating around at thirty to fifty feet and decided to open up and have session with the #5 TCR, just for the hell of it. I discovered I have developed a very vertical style, which is a good thing. I guess all that prating around at thirty to fifty feet had an overall effect on my general style. Why vertical? One of the requests from the CBOGs, who oversee testing, is that we cast a more upright style during our assessment. It makes it easier for them to assess loop width and tracking, among other things. I originally jibbed a bit at that because it smacks of imposing a style, which I am dead against, but on reflection I could see their point so I went with it.
Ok, so why is vertical a good thing for distance? It’s the line of least resistance. It’s the epitome of the 180 rule. It reduces the risk of the arm tracking around the casting shoulder and the torso rotating at the hip, which would have a similar effect.
I used to think that a more side on stroke was more powerful. It certainly felt as if you could get your shoulder behind the rod and really give it some welly. However it topped out at under 120′ so it had to go. The problem was it was hard to get rid of, months, if not years, of side swiping had created a muscle memory problem. I would start off a session nice and vertical but as I concentrated on other things the rod would end up canted over. It was still happening late last summer when I last did some concentrated distance practice. So, you can imagine how delighted I was to discover I was naturally casting a more vertical distance style without having to think about it. Long may it last. I hit another 130′ as well as a lot of mid to high 120′s which sort of vindicates the more vertical approach.
I have been wondering what type of twitch I have, no I don’t mean the nervous twitch I develop every time I think about the Masters test, I mean the muscular fast or slow type that we all fall into. Have a read here
. Interesting eh? I have been considering if there are (and there must be) some fast twitch instructors who have a naturally fast stroke. I’m sure I have been taught by one or two and been bemused by the blur of action as the rod moves like Zorro on the attack. ‘Did you see what I did there?’ , well, no actually. Swish swish swish. ‘See that?’ Erm…no, can we go a bit slower please.
I suspect I have a medium to slow twitch, I know my casting cadence is slower (or feels it) than most people I cast with.
Not having a good memory has its upsides and downsides. For instance, life is full of surprises like when you re-remember something you had forgotten. If I was in any way methodical I would have written up all my old distance practice sessions, and any other session for that matter, and then I wouldn’t have to go through the process of having to re-learn some of the little wrinkles I had discovered. Spring is the worst time for this because I might not have done any distance work for months and I am constantly having to re discover those little tweaks I had learned the year before. Sometimes this is an actual benefit as some of those little tweaks weren’t really worth knowing in the first place. I do know the basics though, and that’s always a good place to start.
So, you can now imagine the problem I face now that I have to fill my head with all sorts of things I didn’t actually know in the first place and then have to remember them long enough to be of use. I had the same problem with the CCI when I had to remember the X system and the three time rule and the rule of whatever. I don’t know about you but I have never bothered with any of that stuff for fishing or casting, I have always used breaking strain and common sence when it came to tippets or leaders. Knots are another thing I don’t know much about. I was never a boy scout. Once I discovered the Grinner Knot I found I didn’t need any other. I use it for everything from attaching the leader to the fly line to tying on the hook. I trust it completely.
Of course there is also the problem of not knowing exactly what I should be trying to remember, but that’s another story.
I suspect one of the things I will need to know something about is fly lines. I know bugger all about fly lines. I may know more than I think I do but I am not nerdy about lines. I don’t know, or care to know, how long the belly of such and such a line is. I hate short belly WF’s with a passion. I have never worked out what use they are. This is because I have focused so much on carrying a lot of line for my distance work that I always try to carry way too much and end up with arm fulls of overhang and most wf’s don’t like that. If push ever came to shove I would quite happily fish a DT for the rest of my days. A long belly WF is a good compromise for me. I can aerialise eighty or ninety feet, if I need to, and I have good close in control when I don’t. All I ask from a line is that if it say’s it floats on the tin then it had better float and not be a slow sink tip, as many of them are. I want an intermediate that sinks and not float around on the surface like an annoying turd that won’t flush away. If I am casting a dry fly I want a front taper that turns over cleanly and if I am casting half a chicken for pike I want a short front taper to pop the bugger over into a wind. Just don’t ask me which one will do what.
Just a question for you instructors out there. What do you do with a pupil who has absolutely no sence of rhythm?
We’re off and running. The first event of the year is out of the way. Newark, Newark, so cold they named it twice! You have to be slightly mad to get up and 4.30 am to drive 180 miles just to stand in a cold, wet and windy field for two days.
I do these events for several reasons. 1) is to repay the BFCC for all they have done for me. 2) just for the pleasure of instructing and 3) for the instructing tips I pick up over the weekend. 1 and 2 are good enough reasons on their own but 3 is the icing on the cake for me. I have picked up tips from Jim Fearne every year that I have been there that immediately go into my box of useful tools and have got me out of more than one hole. This year I also had an eye opener from Steve Kemp in the way to look at curve casts. I can’t wait for the weekend so I can go play with them.
We had some fun with a flying gazebo but it did leave us out in the cold for a day and a half, and it was bloody cold.
We (the BFCC) are moving with the times and we tested James Evans program that puts the results onto a computer and it spits out the placings immediately and we used walkie talkies for the first time so the those recording the results could stay nice and snug and protected from the weather while we casters and markers didn’t have to run a hundred yards to shout the score every three minutes.
You know, the more I get into my masters preparation the more I find that no two people see the tasks the same way and, more importantly, no two assessors seem to want exactly the same thing. It has the advantage that you have to be open-minded and be prepared to perform some of the tasks differently than you might normally. It’s a good job I don’t have any fixed expectations about the test. I do keep getting some worrying hints about the scope of the questions I might be asked. They are in areas I don’t, at the moment, know much about. Thank goodness for Google.