Bloody Hell, it’s a tough life being a casting instructor. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to even go fishing let alone update this blog. I did start a piece about the ‘loops gathering in Strathdon but I didn’t get time to finish it and because it happened more than twenty-four hours ago I have forgotten what went on, except, we did have a good time, made some new friends and got re-aquanted with old ones. I didn’t do any actual fishing but I did watch some Aus lose a salmon, again. I will have to have a go at this salmon fishing lark. It seems you just keep chucking flies into a known pool and, eventually, one will get really pissed off at being continually buzzed by some fur and feather concoction and have a go at it. Getting it to stay hooked is another matter, apparently. Or, you just run a Woolly Bugger through some runs trying to catch a trout and a salmon decides it’s lunch time and before you know what’s what you have a seven or eight pound salmon on the bank Like Trevor Bourne did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9UMTClI3LI . I did film Matt losing his fish but I don’t have the heart to put it up on Youtube.
I had a very nice weekend with the BFCC at Sportfish last weekend. Saturday was particularly hectic with virtually non stop instructing most of the day, even though we had help from various quarters as Paul Arden, Gilly Bate and Matt Howell stepped in to give me, Mark Surtees, Roger Miles ,Mike Marshall and Alex Titov a occassional break. One thing that really surprised me was the amount of women who wanted to have a go. In fact there were far too many for Mike Marshall to monopolise and we all had our share, for a change. I love teaching women, they are generally a lot easier than men. I was lucky to have a couple who showed real promise, one in particular was so good I stopped the lesson a bit early because I didn’t want to run the risk of it all going wrong. The BFCC really seems to be meeting a need at the moment as our meetings seem to be getting busier and busier, almost to the point where competitions are getting harder to organise around all the instructing going on.
I have just got in from running a casting clinic for a local syndicate water and I have other lessons in the pipeline. This has been my busiest year so far and my garden is suffering, I have seeds to sow and a lawn in dire need of a good mowing. Ah, I see I am free tomorrow afternoon. I bet it rains.
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.
Is it me? I ask myself. Am I the only one who is up to here with information? Am I the only one to raise a jaundiced eyebrow (and they take some raising I can tell you) at yet another debate that gets mired in technicalities.
I claim to be a poet but I’m not sure that is really a correct description. I am more your practical tradesman. I see a problem and I get over it or around it or under it. There is some thought process involved but not the endless theorising which still leaves you with the problem to get round, under or over. By the time the theorists have made a decision (which may be an oxymoron as I have never seen a theorist conclude anything) I have succeeded by trial and error and experience, (which theorists seem to ignore) and moved on to the next problem.
At the moment there is a discussion on the benefits of a bendy rod. Well, take a broom stick fishing and if you can’t see why it wasn’t one of your best ideas within the first thirty seconds you are in the wrong sport. It may be of some use, say, vaulting from one bank to the other without getting your feet wet, or as a wading staff, but as a fishing and casting tool it would rate along side a chocolate tea-pot in practicality.
There, I’ve run out of rant. Now what? It’s midday and it’s still minus two, which is beginning to feel quite normal. The six inches of snow we had last weekend is still four inches thick and makes it difficult to see the fly line when I am practicing. See? how dedicated am I? I suffer for my sport. Numb thumbs and a runny nose whilst talking to myself as I run through the presentations I will be giving in March. And, damn me if I wasn’t enjoying it, how bloody odd is that?
There is another interesting discussion going on about TLT or Italian style casting. I was going to give it a go in the field this morning but the only three weight line I have spooled up is white. I theorised for a few seconds and decided that a white line against a grey sky and a white field wasn’t going to allow me to see anything useful. I concluded I would be better off going back indoors, have a coffee, write this and then make myself a nice hot bowl of soup. After that I might pluck up the courage to throw a practical hand grenade into the discussion on the benefits of a bendy rod……or not.
I am pleased to announce I have joined the Barrio Pro Team http://www.flylineshop.com/barrio-pro-team.html . I have always worried about having an involvement with a manufacturer. I enjoy the freedom of being able to say pretty much what I like and I had a fear that any involvement would restrict me in some way. So, it is quite a relief that I have no such problems with Mike Barrios products. I use Barrio lines and his three weight custom rod has been my go to fishing rod ever since I bought it. I was first approached by Mike a few years ago to help design a distance line. A while later, and with input from others, the GT140 was created. I’m sure that with Marc and Will and me suggesting thisnthat Mike will be beavering away in his shed trying to turn our suggestions into real products which we will then have the pleasure of field testing.
Mike has quietly built up quite a successful little business based around quality products at reasonable prices and I look forward to watching it grow even more successful in the future.
Well, I can be sometimes. When I have something to say or someone winds me up I may put on my serious face, but generally I’m a bit more tongue in cheek than deeply meaningful. Now and again some good stuff slips out but it’s usually more by accident than design. I just write what I think and usually with nothing specific in mind other than the fact I feel the need to write, like now, for instance.
My life has focused around fly casting for about twelve years now. Before that I just used to go fishing and never bothered about the casting. Actually, thinking back, I have always enjoyed casting. There was a period where I was quite interested in beach casting. I even got to about 200yds in the field, which by todays standard is a mere flick because some of the top guys are hitting 300 metres plus. I have spent many a happy night on some bleak and freezing beach trying to untangle a birds nest on my multiplier. I refused to use a fixed spool on the grounds that they were the reel of choice of a ditter and not a serious minded sea angler, like wot I was. Idiot.
Of all the fishing I have done over the years I think I enjoyed coarse fishing the most. The early mornings with the sun just coming up and the mist rising off the water. The mini bubbles fizzing up around the lilies as the tench feed around the roots. All the usual romantic stuff. I only got into fly fishing in the first place because of the old close season. Fishing was an obsession in those days and to go a week, let alone three months, without going fishing was unbearable. Eventually I found the process of going fly fishing so much simpler than all the kerfuffle that surrounded going coarse fishing. Just grab the rod and waistcoat and go. No bait to buy or ground-bait to mix, no pinkies to sort out, no smell of sweaty maggots, no swarms of blue bottles flying around the van on hot days from all the escaped maggots. Just box of flies I had tied and some odds and ends and I was good to go.
I readily admit I am not even close to being a great angler. Generally the fishing was just an excuse be on my own. I have always needed me time and I have always enjoyed the slightly ethereal quality of being somewhere relatively remote on my own so fishing was perfect for me. I am not usually a joiner of clubs, those I have joined were only to access some water or other, never the social side. I have enjoyed the odd day fishing in company but generally I was alone and paid the consequences of being a loner by hardly ever fishing with someone better than me and thereby learning from them.
The sudden obsession with the art of fly casting took me by surprise. I had no intension of developing a near anal interest in it. To decide to learn to cast a five weight as far as is humanly possible is not really normal, is it? Couple that with my dwindling interest in fishing for the stock fish which is the vast majority of the easily reached fishing in the area I live and you have the recipe for the creation of another obsession. Fly casting can be solitary but then it really would be pointless. Just you a rod and a tape measure is the road to insanity. You, a rod, a tape measure and some like minded friends may be communal insanity but you do get to meet some interesting people.
A few ideas have been on the back-burner for a while as I have been concentrating on other things, or, one other thing anyway (I am a one thing at a time sort of person).
Nothing is concrete, or even in the mixer yet. I have to discuss things with people I hope will also be involved before I can firm things up. I think my aim is to give something back to a hobby or sport, call it what you will, that has been the focus for a huge part of the last eleven years and has given me so much pleasure and personal achievement.
I have bemoaned the fact that my part of the country is not very well served for those of us interested in fly fishing and especially fly casting. If I had a pound for all the solitary hours I have spent practicing I would be quite a wealthy man. Unfortunately I wasn’t and I’m not!
The general idea is to help prepare people who want to become instructors by running mentoring sessions, workshops and pre test run throughs. I am hoping this will not be any association specific but there may be hurdles to this, we will just have to see how it pans out.
Another thing I intend to try to do in the near future is hold a BFCC regional event at the bottom of my garden. There is a cricket pavilion that can host a social event after the casting is over (bar and all). The lack of which is something I have heard a few moans about over the years. Provided there are three BFCC members present to ratify distances then casts will also be eligible for club records, if any are broken. There is enough space for all the events to be run provided I can get hold of the club T38 and T120 rods. I need to discuss possible dates with the cricket club before I can finalize details.
So there we are. Big ideas and not much of a clue how to get them to fruition. Anyone with ideas feel free to email me.