Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox


I took an all day class today. I had three students, two were an easy study, one in particular has hidden talent.I just showed him, he asked a question or two and then worked happily on his own, I just intervened occasionally to sort any little fault I saw, he was even double hauling, and understanding what he was trying to do, in less than an hour. Brilliant. The second wasn’t far behind, he had dabbled a bit in fly fishing and was thoroughly delighted to add a few feet to his cast and his double hauling was coming on a treat as well.

 My problem was with the third guy. I just couldn’t get his stoke sorted out. I couldn’t find a way to sort the problem out. I didn’t hastle him like I might have done a year or two ago. I tried logically to work out what the problem was. We tried a few things, some worked for a while and then didn’t, some didn’t work at all. He wasn’t an idiot, he knew what he was supposed to be doing, he just couldn’t do it.

 I take this sort of thing personally, I failed, not the student. I just couldn’t press the right buttons.

 I have a friend who teaches and then guides beginners to their first fish every working day of her life; how the hell does she do it?. I think I will book a lesson with her.

 Pete: if you ever read this get in contact, I owe you as free lesson.

 Please read the comments below from Gilly and Stefan, sound, practical instucting advise from both, thanks.

 Whenever I have a lesson- which I try to do, at least once a year- I never expect to come away a better caster on the day. In this respect I am the same as Stefan. I take most of it in but will work it out, on my own, at my own speed. I now try to make sure the person I am having the lesson with understands this as well because, as an instructor, I now appreciate how frustrating it is for the instructor when he thinks  (she as well, sorry Gilly) he is not getting across to the pupil.

 If Stefan and Gilly have the same problem occasionally at least I’m in good company.


April 11, 2009 - Posted by | Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized


  1. Hi Mike!

    Some people learn a lot on a lesson but are slower in managing to perform the things they learned the same day. They need some time to digest and experiment on their own.

    I work exactly this way myself. I am a very slow learner. I’ve never been able to perform a single new thing well at even one of the lessons I’ve attended. I’ve seen the frustration grow in most every teacher I had and I’ve had to try and explain this predicament to them.

    But I come back a while later with a vengence, remembering near every single detail and trick I’ve been taught. And it´s not just there for a week. I still think I can recite most of the first proper casting lesson I had with Hywel Morgan nearly ten years ago.

    There is just no right buttons to press on me, I need the time.

    When I get into the situation you describe I do a followup to find out if the student learns as slow as I do.

    Had a pupil in Stockholm three years ago. I saw he had great potential but things just would not click. I tried a lot of things and then we finally had a chat about how he learns other things. He said something about he had a hard time to learn how to swim so I guessed he was like me. I set this guy upp with a huge bunch of tools and drills to do by himself after the lesson. I also showed some pretty advanced stuff that I recently learned myself.

    This guys showed up the next year to the clinic and I nearly sent him home. It was nearly ridiculus to teach him. He outcasted everyone there by far and I there where some great casters at that clinic, a couple of instructors too. All I could give him was a few tiny details to hone.

    Best Regards

    Comment by Stefan Siikavaara | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Mike,
    I know exactly what you mean,I used to take it to heart too and I think this affected my pupils. Too many negative vibes! Now, in this situation I keep it really simple – First I stop and make them have a coffe, and remove all the pressure then I concentrate on getting the absolute basics spot on. I then give them something to work on (sense of acheivment) and heap praise on them (fishing and casting is all about confidence). I also try to remove them from the better casters – take them out of view – this removes the pressure too and they start to enjoy seeing that they can improve – but at their pace. The next lesson I would suggest for them to have on their own.
    Anyway hope this helps.

    Comment by Gilly Bate | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  3. Above you have instructors point of view.
    From a pupil’s point of view, we sometimes take a lot longer to actually bond with any given instructor.
    Being quite short (and plump) when a big guy stands behind me and says “give me your hand” I do go quite tense initially, it actually takes at least three lessons before I feel comfortable with a tutor to then “allow him (her) in”.
    Booking a lesson only takes money, and not a lot of it as casting/fishing lessons a quite reasonable when you compare with other sports/hobbies. But to feel comfortable with any instructor takes a greater leap of faith.
    It is really a pupil thing, but no doubt some instructors out there will say the better the teacher the easier and quicker you will feel o.k with them, not so, I have over the years been taught by some of the very best in different pursuits and it does take a while for the pupil to “let go”.
    However one to one is really the best way.

    Comment by Roger | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. Excellent point Roger. I never ever touch my students to show them casting – it’s not necessary and a total invasion of their personel space.
    And it is about them casting, they know that the instructor can cast, that’s why they booked the lesson,

    Comment by Gilly Bate | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  5. From a candidates point of view, I have no problem with a hands on assist and having been with Mike I can assure all it was only a minimum amount, to correct stance and stroke! at the time it certainly reduced the time of me trying to interprete Mikes comments. I agree with others when Mike says he failed?? the problem was not of your making Mike more of the pupils, given time and plenty of practice he/she will eventually sort themselves out!from my perspective the problem was more likely the tackle being used did not agree with their casting style? and no matter how you interprete that, if the pupil has not sorted out feel? that alone took me several months before I could sense what was going on!

    Still learning – Alan

    Comment by Alan Sandom | April 16, 2009 | Reply

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