Did you realise there were people out there who neither know about, or even want to know about, fly casting and fly fishing? I know, I didn’t believe it myself…..until this weekend. No, they are more interested in dogs, horses, owls, hawks, ferrets and wildfowling. It’s true, I’m not making this up!
It started auspiciously enough, sunny and warm, unheard of in living memory. Detling is where cold, wet and windy lives on a near permanent basis for most of the year. I guess it wanted a a day out on saturday and took itself off for day trip somewhere. I drew the short straw and had to do the first demo of the day in a small indoor arena with hardy anyone even at the show let alone wanting to see a fly casting demonstration. I was the warm up act with no-one to warm up. You would think that for a near demo virgin the idea of no-one seeing you would be quite comforting. It’s not, it is in fact quite unnerving to be talking to yourself for half an hour. However, I did discover a few hazards to avoid for my next scheduled humiliation, like overhead lights and roof trusses. I also discovered the limitations of using an MPR as a demo tool.
The next demo was in the outdoor arena. Much better all round. I actually had an audience, all three of them. Whoever you were, thank you. The last indoor demo of the day was an improvement on the first one by some margin, I actually heard a clap when I finished, only one, but I was grateful.
Heather and I then had to rush off to Muswell Hill to get to Marks reception before the food was gone, which thankfully we did as we hadn’t eaten all day. I will say no more about the wonderful evening other than to comment that Mark and Christina have some interesting friends and even more interesting relatives, and lots of them.
Day two started at a Hotel in Muswell Hill on the same morning the clocks went forward and we were meant to be somewhere else an hour ago, but we made it back to Detling where cold, wet and windy was back from it’s day off and had brought it’s mate, fog, for a visit. We could hardy see the area, just across the road, that had been set aside for the BFCC to give casting lessons. I was once again the warm up act in the indoor arena. Guess what? I actually had an audience to warm up. What a difference it makes to have some people to interact with. The demo had a purpose, and it showed. I even did a mini casting clinic for the last few minutes where I asked if anyone had any specific problems they wanted answered and tried to give them some solutions. Blessedly the fog decided to go home before my next outdoor demo and I was actually visible to those who were watching (yes, there were a few). I turned the wind to my advantage and focused on casts to cope with windy conditions and did the casting clinic again and overran my time by ten minutes.
Normal service was resumed at my last indoor demo. I was running out of steam and turned to one dogged spectator in the hope of ending with another mini casting clinic. ”Do you fly fish?”, he shook his head and I learned the real meaning of despair.
Ok, I have exagerated…slightly. I did enjoy it, I learned a lot. One lesson I am considering is training up something furry, feathery and/or cute for an audience to ahh at while I run through my program. I now understand why you never see Charles Jardine without his dog Midge.
On the plus side Mike Marshall, and Roger Miles with Terry Jenner snapping away merrily had a quite successful first year at the show providing BFCC casting instruction to those who were actually interested in fly fishing and fly casting. Nice one lads.
Oh dear, I’m back on the distance trail again. I thought I had got away from me against a tape measure, but no, here we go again. There is a good reason, which I won’t go into just yet (no I’m not practicing for the World Championships). I haven’t done much distance other than the odd cast before finishing practicing on other stuff for ages. If I was organised I would have a little black book of all the little things I have learned over the years, but I’m not organised, so I haven’t. I have to re-learn a lot of it. Then there the problem that I am using a line I am unfamiliar with. Lines can take quite a while to work out. When I first started distance casting the benchmark line was Scientific Anglers XXD. Just as I got used to it they modified it to the Mastery Expert Distance (MED for short) and it took me ages to get used to it. The MED is not stocked in the UK anymore and even if it was it is a ridiculous price, about £75 the last time I looked. When I was practicing a lot I used to get through five or six a year because they used to crack up around the carry/haul point. My dilemma is that I don’t know if why I can’t get beyond 124′ at the moment is because I am out of practice and not casting as well as I should be or I haven’t worked out the line yet. I suspect it’s more me than the line at this point though because I have steadily improved over the weekend from a base of around 115′. Not to be sniffed at of course but it is a bit galling when a couple of years ago I would have expected mid to high 120′s pretty much whenever I wanted, if the conditions were good. I will also dig through my line drawer and see if I have and MED lying around and then I will have a little competition against the line I am using. Whatever happens the practice won’t be wasted, not that practice is ever wasted. It’s casting season again and the first competition is only three weeks away. It would be nice to show the young up and comers that there is life in the old dog yet.
I have also been getting up to speed on the new FFF CCI casting assessment for the workshop Mark and I will be holding in Germany next month. There have been a couple of interesting changes and the expectations seem clearer than when I took it. I ran through all the casts. I think I would still pass it.
I only have one more weekend of winter indolence and then a couple of months of frenetic activity. On the 24th/25th March I will be standing in for Charles Jardine at the Kent Game Fair near Maidstone and helping the BFCC instructing both days as well. Plus, I am in north London on the Saturday evening for Marks wedding reception. Plus, it’s my birthday, again. I have been around since just before the Queen (Gord Bless ‘er) was the Queen. The following weekend I am in Collumpton Devon for a BFCC event. It’s a new venue for us and we are all looking forward to seeing some new faces. I have a feeling I should be doing something the weekend after that, but it’s not in my diary. If anyone knows where I should be please let me know. Easter, weekend off…not, well not all of it anyway. Mark Surtees and I will be holding a casting clinic for Canterbury and District Angling Club on Easter Sunday, so no scoffing my easter eggs for breakfast then. The next weekend my wife files for divorce while I am in the midlands somewhere doing a distance workshop. I get the papers while I am in Munich at the EWF show in Munich
Mark and I will be holding a workshop for those preparing for their CCI, helping out with casting clinics and getting drunk (maybe). Two weekends off, phew, then Scotland for the annual Sexyloops gathering and then with the BFCC at the Sportfish open weekend. After that things get back to normal. At least I will have no problem finding something to write about, finding the time to write it may be a different story.
Once again I am going to show my ignorance but you can blame Will Shaw this time. I have just read his front page on Sexyloops and it got me thinking about my particular niche in the tackle tart hierarchy. Will seems to love reels, and so do a lot of other people. I don’t. Reels just don’t float my boat, as anyone who see’s mine will confirm. I have two, possibly three, ‘classy’ reels. The third is a possible simply because I don’t know enough about them to make a judgment. It was a gift so has a value far above what it may actually be worth either in cost or classiness. I like utilitarian, one reel and four or five spare cassettes for under £100 (less if possible). The idea of spending £300 on a reel and then another £200 on a spare spool freaks me out quite frankly. My main interest, which doesn’t necessarily extend to actually buying them, is rods. I am an inveterate rod waggler. I’m not sure what I learn from waggling rods, I have even been told I waggle them wrong. I waggle up and down (the right way) but I have been told I should waggle them from side to side (the wrong way). Surely side to side is wristy, whereas when I up and down I can load and stop the rod in a more realistic way and get a better feel for stiffness, tip bounce, tip weight, the feel of the cork and whatever else you can tell from a rod with no reel or line on. I have been guilty of waggling over vigorously and frightening the salesmen on occasion, they don’t seem to like really vicious stops for some reason. Is it true a rod is more likely to break without a line on it than with one strung up? I have never broken a rod by waggling it, I have broken several while casting them though.
Can someone tell me what a parabolic rod action is supposed to be? Personally I think it’s just hyperbole. I do remember casting the Orvis Zero Gravity (which I believe was touted as having a parabolic action) when it first came out and finding it quite a weird experience, no feel whatsoever. I had to rely on visual references to cast it decently. I now think the one I tried was underlined. Experience has taught me never to trust the guys on the stand because most of the time they will just put whatever is to hand on a rod you want to test, and they won’t have a clue what it is either, I even came across one that had put the line on back to front once. These days if I want to try a particular rod I make sure I have a reel and the right line with me. I bought a Zero Gravity a couple of years ago and found no weirdness whatever.
Spring was here last week but it seems to have gone back into hibernation. I have two more weeks of an empty diary and then it’s bedlam until sometime in May, I’m even doing a casting clinic on Easter Sunday. It will be nice to get back in the groove again.