Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

I Am Not A Number

Still snowing. I tried to get to work this morning but it was a no go. Can someone tell me why they turn close thirty or forty miles of motorway and use it as lorry park forcing the rest of us to us an old A road that usually gets blocked at the first sign of snow?

Casts and mends, lets take a closer look. Most presentation casts, you know, those fancy curves, wiggles and humps we put in for various fishing situations, are usually a combination of moves made during the stroke and after loop formation, well, some are. Then along comes a definition that states that an aerial mend is made after loop formation and a cast is made during the stroke. Ok, that was nice to know, thanks for telling me. The problem then arose that there had to be a way of finding out if a potential instructor knew the difference between a cast and a mend. We are now in a bizarre situation where we have to perform a cast, where we would normally have used a combination of cast and mend, using one or the other, but not both. If, for instance, I want to perform a curve cast and twitch the rod inadvertently after the loop has formed it suddenly (and involuntarily) becomes a mend, and I would fail the task. If all they want is to know is do you know the technical difference between a cast and an aerial mend why don’t they just ask instead of asking you to perform a presentation in an unnatural way. I would quite enjoy the challenge if an assessor said ‘there is a obsticle, how would you avoid it’ and then demonstrate half a dozen different casts (or mends) rather than ‘make a curve cast around that obstacle’.  The problem also arises that some perform certain presentations using one or the other and define a cast as a mend whereas I might do it the other way and define the cast as a cast. Both presentations end up with the same layout, we just did it differently. This is not a winge by the way, I actually enjoy learning different ways to perform casts. In fact, showing different methods to perform the same task would, to my mind, show an assessor that this guy really knows his stuff.

 Personally I think it’s a bit short-sighted to be told there is only the prescribed way to perform anything to do with fly casting, whether it is stance, grip or movement. We are all built differently and have our own way of doing things. On top of that the angler who mainly fishes rivers might have a totally different outlook compared to one who fishes reservoirs or the salt. We don’t want to create clones when we teach, neither do we want to go back to the ‘good old days’ when we had to stand right foot forward, keep our elbows in and cast from 10 till 2. What’s that to do with anything, I hear you ask.  My view is that by defining everything we risk going back to those ‘good old days’  because we have to cast within those definitions to be seen as correct. It’s the old substance versus style argument. Substance is the thing you have to do to perform something, for fly casting this boils down to the Five Essentials, or the six, or seven, depending on who’s model you choose to use. Style is the way you, personally, choose to perform those essential elements. It’s the one part of fly casting that is your’s to do as you like with. I can’t say what my style is. Over the years I have taken a bit of this and a bit of that, blended it with dash of something, given it a swirl in a blender and hey presto. I am what I am and tomorrow I might be something else.


December 2, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Hi Mike

    I understand some of the views you express. The assessment process was changed within GAIA for both the GAIC and APGAI qualifications as so many candidates were coming forward and failing as they didn’t really understand the level of competency expected as each level.
    The idea was to make the process transparent so that it didn’t come down to just an individuals opinion but we wanted a candidates to reach a level of competency that was clearly defined.
    If the understanding is there as to how to use the rod/rod tip efficiently and effectively to reach and catch the fish we are after then there needs to be a process where the candidate can show a clear understanding of how to reach the same result in different ways.
    When teaching a client they may for whatever reason only be able to translate this information by a single method. Once this is mastered then we are able to introduce other elements that may help in different circumstances as what may fit one circumstance may not necessarily fit another.
    There has to be an understanding that although it always comes down to catching fish there are aspects of fishing that can be enhanced with a greater understanding of rod and rod tip control.
    Perhaps that is why 5% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish!!!!!!

    Comment by Mark Roberts | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for taking the time to write.

    As you know, I am working up for my FFF Masters sometime next year. GAIC and APGAI may come after that, I’m a one thing at a time person. One of the things that drew me to the FFF was their style neutral attitude to fly casting. I beleive this cast versus mend has only come in recently because of the definition. I may be wrong, the masters has really not been on my agenda until quite recently. My concern is that the tail starts wagging the dog, ie the definitions start to impact how how we should perform a cast rather than explaining how it works.
    Apart from that I am snowed in and getting stir crazy.
    These musings are just that, me thinking out loud but it’s nice to get some answers
    thank you

    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. hi Mike

    i like musing myself and its good to challenge the things out there that are apparently set in stone.
    I was involved in creating a glossary of terms for GAIA last year and it proved very difficult for all to agree the format and how deep we went into them.
    It started with this paragraph:

    ‘This Glossary of Terms has been put together to help explain in a simple uncomplicated manner the terms often referred to during coaching/mentoring. at
    These definitions will form the basis of the under pinning knowledge required at assessment. It is appreciated that in some circumstances these definitions need expanding when being explained but the deeper understanding of these terms will be developed by your mentor and will be a way that you the candidate can show your greater understanding and own opinion at assessment. There are numerous explanations and similar terms used by noted individuals in the angling world. What is listed below is not a contradiction of those explanations but simply GAIA’s own definition of them and should be regarded as a baseline of knowledge.’

    By doing this we felt that we were developing a starting line for those who wanted to equip themselves in preparation for an assessment with GAIA.

    As you know I am also an FFF Master and have spoken to Gordy Hill about the subject in great detail and I am aware that they have a sub group working to agree a selection of terms but due to varying opinions its is not complete.
    The whole point of this process however it makes you think and with that comes a clear understanding of the principles of casting which should help you to teach proficiently and effectively.

    best wishes


    Comment by Mark Roberts | December 3, 2010 | Reply

  4. “Apart from that I am snowed in and getting stir crazy.” i think that sums it up quite nicely… :p
    Mike, can we talk on Skype some time ? we’re connected but you’re never on, ffs… it’s about the MCCI and it’s not about not wanting to share with the others but i just can’t spend five hours writing… 😉

    Comment by marc fauvet | December 3, 2010 | Reply

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