Casting arc or casting angle. What do you call it? I used to call it arc, got persuaded it should be angle, now I tend to interchange them. Whatever you call it is just the angular change of the rod from the start of the stroke to the end of the stroke. The rotational bit. The arc is quite frequently talked about. We talk about variable casting arc, which means learning to vary the angular change depending on various things like the action of the rod or the amount of line we have aeralised, or the force we need to apply to cope with conditions like a head or tail wind. The mantra is the more line/force the wider the arc needs to be. Widening the casting arc is often the instruction to a client who casts tailing loops. This is a bit misleading because you can get the same result just by lengthening the casting stroke and not widening the casting arc. So lets talk about the casting stroke.
The casting stroke is the distance the hand moves from the start of the stroke to when the hand stops the rod butt. This movement can be quite stylistic. It can be a downward chopping action, a fairly horizontal movement or a down-up swooping movement or a combination. Choppers tend to have shorter strokes than those of us that translate horizontally, possibly because there is more stroke length available horizontally than there is vertically. I’m not sure. I only know I tail more often with a vertical stroke than I do with a horizontal one.
Anyway, casting stroke tends to be the poor relative in a discussion about fly casting, A bit like poor old Mr Woogy (see Chas and Dave). The fact is that without really thinking about it most of us lengthen our stroke as we widen the casting arc, or I’m pretty sure we do. One beginner fault is all arc and no stroke length, which gives the classic non loop. As we get them to introduce some stroke length we can see proper loops begin to form and as they learn to use the correct arc with the correct stroke length (and put in a stop, of course) we start to see some really nice loops.
I use the casting stroke for several things; To start the acceleration slowly and smoothly. To allow me to drag ( the rod is moved in the direction of the cast with no angular change) the rod prior to rotation. I adjust stroke length more than I adjust casting arc to alter loop width, especially when trying to tighten my loops. I lengthen stroke length to ease out tails.
Now, I may have it arse about-face with the way I adjust loop width but I find it much more simple to adjust stroke length than casting arc. The overriding benefit is that a longer stroke helps eliminate the power spike that probably caused the tip path to buckle that gave you the tailing loop in the first place.
In the end you use both casting arc and stroke length in an overall casting stroke. They shouldn’t be separated, except when discussing them. One is pretty useless without the other so don’t forget to look at your stroke length when your casting goes to pot.
You may remember a while back I said I wanted something to hold the attention of an audience when I demonstrated fly casting at shows. So, I got Albert, a six month old long haired Chihuahua pup. I say pup but he will probably not get any bigger than he is now, which isn’t very big, but he is cute, which was the main criteria. The next problem is to train him to be a part of the demo. Quite what I will be able to get him to do is open to question. Watch this space.
The group I am setting up to help Instructors is starting to go in directions I hadn’t envisaged. It is broadening into something that is, potentially, very exciting. Instead of focusing purely on one certification we will now be able to help those of you that may want to try for any of the domestic associations as well. I do mean any. I have had offers of help from all of them and they will all be represented.
Let’s face it, Instructing is Instructing. Some of us may be more comfortable with some aspects more than others but we can learn from each other and add more bang for our clients buck, add new tools to our kit and generally become more rounded instructors.
Back to the little local difficulty on my previous post. I am still an IFFF member, and will continue to be one. There are issues to be sorted out and I hope they will be resolved. I cannot imagine this sort of issue would have arisen with our domestic associations simply because there is communication between all members. This has highlighted the fact that there is no real avenue for communication between those that run the CICP for the IFFF and it’s members. You can’t expect the thick end of two thousand Instructors world wide just to sit back and ignore what’s going on or not to call for changes.
Now, back to the important stuff. Am I going to train Albert or is Albert going to train me? Can you teach a dog to fly cast?
What the hell are you doing letting this situation get so out of hand. It has gone way beyond the excluding of two CBoGs by bypassing the rules laid out to deal with such alleged infractions. Not only are the management of the IFFF and the CICP seen to be mishandling the whole affair they are now seen to be manipulating and altering the rules to avoid being held to account. The Ethics Committee, which should have dealt with the case in the first place, is now totally compromised and cannot be seen as an independent arbiter because some of its members are involved in the decision to bypass the Ethics Committee and to allow the matter to be dealt with by the Chair of the BoD. Mark Surtees has written a letter of censure of the Chairs of both the BoG and the CBoG, a letter by the way I whole heartedly endorse, and it now appears that they are trying to (or are going to) create a new set of rules so that this letter can be ignored. Many of us feel this is an utterly repugnant, not to say cowardly, attempt to sweep the whole sorry saga under the carpet.
The CICP was brought under the umbrella of the FFF to use the good reputation and organisation of the FFF to further its cause. The creation of an unelected Casting Board of Goveners overseen by the Board of Goveners of the FFF may have been expedient at the time but times move on and we are now the IFFF with a significant number of international instructor members, many of whom are starting to resent being governed by a group of people we never elected, and, in a lot of cases, don’t even know, that offer us absolutely no representation. In this day and age how can this be?
I always thought the FFF was an inclusive organisation. I now discover that incusivity does not extend to the management. It turns out it’s a very excluse club that is desperate to cling on to power.
Well, it bloody well should be inclusive. Time for a clear out.
I have just heard that the vote went against hearing Marks letter of censure. How bloody appalling is that. Mel Kreiger was right, you’re a bunch of cowards. I bet he is spinning in his grave right now.
No, don’t read anything into the title, it just popped into my head along with the song ‘Happy days are here again’. The fact that I have just spent a happy weekend with the AAPGIA boys in Caer Beris is purely co-incidental. Wales in the Autumn is beautiful, a shame that I drove through most of it in the dark yesterday morning but I had an eyeful of the autumnal colours on the way home this afternoon. I was even witness to an avenue of trees deciding that that was the moment to shed all their leaves at the same moment and I drove through a blizzard of gently falling leaves. There wasn’t even a breath of wind either.
It goes without saying that I enjoyed myself. I always do when I get together with other people who share the same passion as me. It’s also a bit humbling to realise that I still have a mountain to climb to reach the standards of casting I saw on display. I wasn’t going to mention names but one little 15 minute demo on presentation casts by Gary Champion just left me in total awe, fuck, how did he do that? I have got to learn that stuff.
Now, you and I know I don’t often mix casting with water. I mean, what are cricket fields for if not to cast in? I can do all sorts of fancy casts on grass but add water, and running water at that, and you have a recipe for humiliation. I was graped. There were a bunch of them lined up for their turn to (sometimes) kick me into shape. Luckily I had waders on and they didn’t so I could retreat from the onslaught of advice I was receiving by going out into the river. Not that it stopped them. ‘Lift it higher”, ”pause then sweep”, ”you dipped”, ” relax your hand”, ”you’re using the wrist again”. Out of all this I will take the bits than worked and get rid of the bits that don’t and I will nail that bloody cast. ‘Kin water, how ironic that it is not only the stuff my prey live in I work with the damn stuff as well. It was also illuminating to be on the receiving end of instruction rather than giving it. Food for thought all round.
One of the outcomes of all this is that those of you who are going to join the group I am forming are in for a bloody treat. I have had several offers of help from both AAPGIA and GIAC instructors and you would be mad not to take advantage of the opportunities that this will provide. Not only will those of us already certified learn a huge amount those of you preparing for certification could end up as the best prepared candidates this country has seen for ages. I have to say I am getting quite excited by the prospect.
Special well done to Bernd Ziesche on passing his AAPGIA Masters and to all the other candidates who passed their assessments.
Oh, and a big, big thank you to all who made me so welcome this weekend.
Right, back to work. Lift, pause, sweep, circle up/plant the anchor, pause/ deliver. Can you name that cast yet?
If you really sit and think about the act of fly casting it gradually dawns on you that it’s no wonder some beginners have a problem. First of all we have a fly rod which bends, then we have a fly line which varies in weight depending on how much of it is outside the rod tip and finally there is you, 5’10”, too fat and a dicky shoulder, or wrist, or back, or whatever you woke up with this morning. I don’t count hangovers, they usually wear off after a while.
Rod designers now make rods that are generally progressive and with a bit of practice it becomes second nature to match the bend with stroke length and casting arc but even so different rod actions need some adjustment to technique to get good results.
Lines are infinitely variable, not only by design but also the weight differs as you extend it while false casting, or put that little bit of (unnecessary) oomph into the delivery.
Finally we have the most variable component in the whole system; You. Oh you may think you are a superb example of the human form in all it’s varied beauty but I’m sorry, that accolade belongs to Kylie Minogue (really), the rest of us mere mortals have our problems. We have different builds, different levels of supplety, different levels of musculature, different levels of athleticism, fitness, hand eye co-ordination, injuries, even eye sight can make a big difference. None of these differences should make casting impossible. A friend of mine is involved with Casting for Heros (I think it’s called) and he was telling me that even the most severely disabled with missing limbs can enjoy fly fishing and casting. So, there is hope for even the most un-coordinated of us. All it takes is some persistence and perseverance (and some good instruction to get you heading in the right direction).
The brain is a big problem. A lot of people seem to over think what is basically a very simple operation. You just have to move your hand from here to there and back again and stop abruptly at either end. It’s not as if you have to move it very far, maybe a foot or less for fishing distances. And the wrist! It’s a wonder the fork ever finds the mouth with the apparent lack of control some people have over it. You stick a fly rod in their hands and ‘limp wristed’ takes on a whole new dimension.
I don’t claim to be the fastest learner in the world, in fact I am not. Learning new casts can be very frustrating for the person teaching me. I remember a very frustrating session with someone who was trying to teach me the circle C. Lift, sweep up and over and prod low into the bank. Time and time again I lifted instead of prodded. I knew I shouldn’t lift but I just couldn’t stop myself. I did get it right in the end. I also have friends I can describe a cast too and they make, at first attempt, a cast it has taken me hours to work out. In terms of annoyance these people outstrip the limp wristed brigade by some margin.
Well, that went surprisingly well. Just over half of those that I have contacted have responded positively to the idea of forming some sort of FFF group in the UK. The other half are waiting to see what happens.
I have been an FFF instructor for four years. I think I assumed there was some sort of group, somewhere. I just hadn’t come across it yet. Wrong. After I became a Master it was a near constant niggle in the back of my mind wondering why such a group hadn’t been set up. Yes, I had been to European events in Denmark and Germany and for a couple of years the annual Sexyloops get together had an FFF element, including testing, but it wasn’t an inclusive group that included all FFF instructors. This is my attempt to create such a group.
I want to create a group blog where we can all post a profile, notify the rest of the group of an upcoming event, write an article and generally keep in touch with each other. I want to create a couple of ‘must do’ (in the sense that it’s too good to miss) weekends where we get together to give workshops, demonstrations and talks. Perhaps we can, initially, run some mock tests for both CCI and MCCI candidates.
But first we have to have an initial meeting to work out how all this will work. I have been offered Sportfish in Reading and because its geographically convenient for a lot of us I propose our first meeting will be Saturday 1st December 2012.
This could be the start of something. Let’s make it happen.
I am going to attempt something I have never done before. No, not make a cast that doesn’t tail. I am going to attempt to organise something. Those of you that know me will be surprised. Those of you that know me well will be astonished.
I have come to the conclusion that it the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed had better do something about it.
In the UK there are thirty something FFF instructors and by the end of the year there may be nearer forty. As a group we are pretty ignorant about each other and I would like that to change. In the next month or two I will be contacting as many of you as I can with the view of starting something similar to that the domestic associations already have, an annual get together where we can run workshops, assist others working their way through the system and learn from those with experience of how things are done in the other associations. I realise that a lot of us already have pretty full diaries and having to find a date and venue that will suit us all will not be easy but I think we should make the effort.
I believe the FFF is a fantastic organisation and, as members, we should make more of an effort to be involved with each other. The FFF is also working towards making changes and as a group we may be able to influence these changes far more effectively than we can as individuals.
The beauty of a UK get together is that we will have no association politics, no AGM, no votes. Just casting and fishing and instructing. If it becomes organised enough we may well be able to offer testing as well. Or am I being a bit naive? Probably, as I said before I haven’t done this sort of thing before.
I know several FFF instructors read this and I would like to hear your thoughts either in the comments section or you can email me email@example.com I would also like to have as many of your email addresses as possible so that I can start to create a mailing list.
A question for all you fellow instructors. Let’s assume the usual standard of client; beginner to intermediate. They have never had a lesson and have never given the mechanics of fly casting a second thought. The beginner can’t cast, obviously. The intermediate can cast a fly onto the water, in a fashion. He catches fish, he just knows he should be casting better than he is.
With beginners I do an explain and demonstrate emphasising accelerating the line by using casting arc, stroke length and stopping the hand, which, if done correctly, will lead to loop formation. I really emphasise that the whole point of the excercise is to create a dynamic loop.
I have often been astonished at the lack of understanding about what is going on during the cast when I teach intermediates so I often go through the exact same explain and demonstrate to try to flesh out their understanding of what should be happening. Several times I have had the comment ‘you were right about the loop thing’. It can be a real eye opener for some.
I then pass them the rod and see what happens. Sometimes, like last weekend, I hand them the rod and they can make an acceptable cast immediately. I have even had a few beginners ’get it’ almost straight away and the next hour or more is just pure joy. Most don’t ’get it’ immediately though and that’s when the bag of tricks come out, Lee Cummings triangle method, horizontal, etc etc.
I am now quite comfortable doing it this way but I sometimes wonder how others start with new clients.
Care to pass on your method?
Yes, I am still here. I just seem to be running around in ever decreasing circles. In March my diary ended abruptly (like a good stop should) near the end of June and I had plans to go fishing, mow the lawn, tend the garden and generally chill out. It just hasn’t turned out like that. Even last weekend, which was supposed to be blissfully uneventful suddenly got eventful with only a weeks notice. One minute I was pondering what to do with my free time, like, maybe, go fishing, the next I was booked to do three days demonstrating at the East of England show at Peterborough. Some of you may have seen Prince Charles getting his brogues a bit muddy on the telly. He came up on the Friday when the heavens opened and the site was more than a bit damp. It was so bloody wet I would not have been that surprised to see a run of sea-trout through the arena I was demonstrating in. I think those of us that demonstrate fly casting have drawn the short straw. In my arena we had gundog training, which included a springer pup. Sheep dog trials, which not only had dogs but indian runner ducks (instead of sheep) and children. A heavy horse strutting his stuff. Birds of prey being flown with chicks to be ahhed at. Beagles and foxhounds for kids to play with. And, me and my rod! Gimme a break. They drew adoring crowds, I had an audience of, and let’s be generous, half a dozen, five of which didn’t know one end of a rod from the other (I exaggerate, but only slightly). I need something, I don’t know what yet, that will draw a crowd. Something cute and funny, and I don’t mean Roger. I now understand why Charles Jardine has his Midge. If three-quarters of the audience decide they don’t get loop formation and abrupt stops they can at least watch the dog misbehaving and walk away afterwards with a smile on their faces. Job done. And it is a job, believe me. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself, I did, especially when the weather improved and I could take my super-duper, extra long mac off.
I have two more weekends of casting stuff, including taking some people to their first casting on water with fish in. I hate that. I so want them to catch a fish and the guilt trip when they don’t. I could never be a guide. How do they cope with the bad days?
Right, off to trawl the internet, I wonder what I will get when I Google small and furry?
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.