Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Why did I do it, part 2

OK, so I had made my mind up, I would take the test. The next question was which organisation?, APGIA, AAPGIA, EFFA, STANIC or the FFF. I was only interested in two of them, AAPGIA and the FFF. In the end it came down to what did I want to do. Did I want my casting instruction to include fishing or not. I don’t fish an awful lot for one reason or another and I did not feel comfortable with the idea of teaching fishing methods. The reason I ended up choosing the FFF is because they emphasise flycasting and the importance of learning to instruct properly.  As a group of people they are very supportive, I knew quite a few of them either personally or via the Sexyloops board so it felt like I was joining a group of friends.

 I wasn’t too concerned about the casting element, practicing that was the enjoyable bit, getting the explanations right was a different matter altogether. As I read the test the first 17 tasks were demonstration only, ie the examiner would ask me to perform a cast and I would do it, I didn’t need explanations until question 18. That misconception was nearly my undoing. I found out less than a week before the test that explanations were needed for every task. Near panic set in. But I am getting well ahead of myself here so lets go back to the beginning.

 I wanted to keep my going for the test private, I didn’t want the whole world knowing I had failed did I? but I knew I needed help with the technical stuff so a few ‘mentors’ had to be in the know so that I could get advise. I was a bit hamstrung by not being able to post questions on the Sexyloops board as that would have given the game away but the FFF website http://www.fedflyfishers.org/ has loads of information on it if you dig around a bit and a lot of it is about the skill of instructing which was the part I was most concerned about.

 There is no doubt that teaching is a skill on it’s own, you need to say enough to explain but not enough to confuse and I knew I was a confuser. I used to do some informal instructing with friends, I never charged money because they were Guinea pigs and I let them know it. I was learning more from them that they were learning from me, I suspect that initially they went away understanding less than when they started. The feedback was that I talked too much!. I now try and and give an instruction or explanation and move away for a while while the student gets their head around it, I will hover and just gently help them if required before we move on to the next phase but back then it was a bit wham bam thank you mam. Do this ,do that, lets try this, NO, not like that you f******  idiot. See, I’m not a natural teacher am I?.

 I will finish this epic tomorrow, or maybe not, it could go on for weeks.

 BTW, my son only wanted to take his Mum and Dad out to lunch, I must stop being so cynical.


January 31, 2009 Posted by | Flycasting instruction | , , , | 5 Comments

Why did I do it. Part 1

Surprise, surprise, I have just found another stats page and discovered I do have visitors. Welcome, whoever you are. You don’t have to be embarrassed, there is a comments section and you are more than welcome to add some if you like. I promise not to wrap a five weight around your head the next time we meet.

 So, what shall we discuss this week. As I am a flycasting instructor perhaps I should mention it now and then, not that I am doing much instructing at the moment as it’s not really the weather for it, is it?.

 Why did I become an instructor?. Good question, and a long story.

 I had never considered I was instructor material. Not enough patience, not enough experience and not enough knowledge, not enough of anything really. It started with my first ‘proper’ lesson with Paul Arden. I was rather shocked when he asked me if I had ever considered instructing. I think I laughed at the absurdity of it while at the same time feeling slightly flattered that he thought I was good enough. I now realise it was a devise to get you to think more about the mechanics of flycasting and in that respect it worked because I guess that was the moment the seed was planted.

 Initially I was much more interested in casting a five weight to 100′, when I got to 100′ it then became 110′, and so it went on for a few years until I reached a point where, for one reason or another, I realised I had probably reached my peak as far as distance was concerned and I was beginning to get more interested in the ‘twiddly stuff’ as my wife likes to call it, accuracy, change of direction casts, slack line, curves, mends etc.

 After a while I realised I needed some structure to my practice so I downloaded the FFF CCI casting test and worked my way through it.  At some point I thought I needed to find out how good I was and the only way to do that was to put myself up for testing and that is the moment I decided to become an instructor.

 I will continue this saga over the weekend because my wife and I are being taken out to lunch by one of our sons, I wonder what he wants!

January 30, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Engineers and Poets

Oh dear me, what have I started?. A Blog is a bit of a two edged sword, on the one hand I find it quite theraputic to just sit and write whatever comes into my head on the other it’s a bit of a responsability to keep new content coming, after all I have at least one viewer to entertain even if it’s only my wife. Well this will bore her stiff, I want to discuss technical stuff, or rather my inability to understand much of it.

 Very often on the Sexyloops board we get into deep discussion about the minutia of an aspect of a cast. I mean something that happens in a micro second can take twenty pages of debate to end up with no conclusion but we have a clearer picture, if that makes sense. Or, the answers to the original question throw up some interesting questions of their own and the thread goes off on a tangent or two. Now all this if fine until one or two of the ‘techies (and you know who you are) join in and we enter the surreal world of the engineer and numbers start replacing words. I find hard mathematical fact hard to digest, I’m more a gut feeling sort of person. My casting is based on observation and practice not scientific analysis and consequently I can find myself at odds with some of the replies with no way To refute them because I don’t understand them. Mind you I am filled with admiration for those who do reply in an intelligent way but it is often tinged with jealousy that they understood what they were replying to in the first place.

 One of the few technical questions I do enjoy debating is double hauling, if I see those words in a question I am in there like a rat up a drain pipe. The double haul is one of the aspects of casting that can appear quite mysterious in how it actually works. I know how it works, I have the absolute certainty of a true poet.

January 25, 2009 Posted by | forum debates, Mike Heritage | , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Blues

Ok, I admit it, I am completely fed up with winter, enough is enough. I just long for the days when I can just grab a rod and pop down to the field for an hour or two without getting wet or freezing my nuts off. I get a bit stir crazy at this time of year anyway but it seems worse this year. Never mind, spring is just around the corner, the snowdrops are nearly out and Barack Obama is President, things can only get better, can’t they?.

 The casting year will start a bit earlier than usual this year because the BFCC will be holding their first event at the Spring Show at Newark at the end of February. This might seem like a good thing to you but if you had the opportunity to go to Los Roques bonefishing for a week or standing in a cold, wet and windy field in Newark which one would you choose?. Yeah?, well I chose the other one, out of loyalty to the BFCC. I must be bloody mad!. If you come to the show pop over and say hello and have a cast.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | fly casting, Mike Heritage | , | Leave a comment

New Year resolution

I know we are still in the depths of winter but the new season isn’t so far away.

 I am always surprised how many fly fishers put their gear away for the winter and don’t see it again until opening day. If we get a nice day go out and practice, who knows you might actually enjoy it.

 Are you happy with your casting?, no? well get a lesson. I waited thirty years before I had my first one. Big mistake! now I have at least one every year from the best I can find, they are never a waste of time.

 I have learned that I don’t become a better caster during the lesson but the lesson gives me things to work on in my own time. I used to feel under pressure to perform and if I didn’t get what the instructor was trying to show me I would lose confidence. Not any more. I have come to realise that lessons are supposed to be an enjoyable experience (hopefully for the instructor and the student) and we all learn at different speeds and in different ways. I have one friend who can have a cast explained to him and he will perform it almost perfectly straight away. Me?, I need to see it done, perhaps several times, but I will get there in the end.

 So before the next season starts do yourself a favour and get a flycasting lesson booked. At the very least get a rod lined up and have some practice.

 You know it makes sense

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment