Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Holey Moley

Jeez,  I wish it would warm up. I was out in the field with someone yesterday and the wind cut through me like a knife. I had a coffee in the pub afterwards instead of my usual. The problem with having a session with someone preparing for a test is that you don’t do much casting yourself, you just stand there (trying to look as if you care) and freeze your nuts off for two or three hours. I thought I would go out this morning and have a chuck, just to see if I remembered what to do. Half an hour was more than enough to convince me I was better off indoors with a bowl of soup!. One day I will find a nice indoor venue that I can pop to once or twice a week, preferably with heating.

 It’s only about four weeks until the BFCC event in Newark. It’s being combined with a shooting show this year. Apparently tackle manufactures and suppliers are having a hard time and can’t justify an event on their own, or, the organisers can’t. I seem to remember the shows were combined a couple of years ago and we (the BFCC) did brisk trade as shooters tried their hand at fly casting. It will be all hands to the pump in our instructing sessions. Anyway, if you’re there pop over and say hello and bring me a hot coffee and two sugars please.

After Newark things start to get a bit hectic. I am going to Denmark in March for the FFF euro conclave. In March and April I must find some time to have a session with an FFF Master or two for my preparation for my test. April I have a long weekend in Amsterdam that has nothing to do with a fly rod. Mid May is test time in Scotland. Mid May to end of May is probably going be spent working out where it all went wrong.

 The test is a bit of a conundrum. I am not too worried about the casting aspect. There isn’t so much wrong that a couple of weeks of decent weather and a bit if concerted effort can’t put right. No. It’s the bloody questions they are going to fire at me that has me more concerned. I could do the casting test in about half an hour, or less, but the test can last up to four hours. That’s a serious amount of time spent grilling the poor sucker (me). They are going to need a JCB to dig me out of some of the holes I am going to dig for myself.

 Ah well, I had better be off and start cleaning the shovel.


January 30, 2011 Posted by | BFCC, fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage | 5 Comments


You’re creeping.

”Am I?” What’s creeping?

 You are anticipating the next stroke by bringing the rod forward a bit instead of staying back while the loop unrolls.

”Oh, ok”

See, that’s better, you didn’t tail that time.

”Oh yes, fantastic. Why has it stopped the line tangling?”


” Whats tailing?”

When the line crosses itself as the loop unrolls.


Tailing, it’s called a tailing loop.

”The loop isn’t tangling, sorry tailing, the line is”

I bet you’re an engineer.

”Yes, how did you guess?”


”so, why did creeping give me a tailing loop?”

Because it reduced the casting arc you need to make a good loop.

(five minute demo of variable casting arc)

Ok, back to the false casting. You’re creeping again.

” I know”

What do you mean you know.

”I just want to see what happens”

Ah, you’re not creeping then.

”I am”

You’re not, you are drifting.

”I’m creeping”

You’re drifting

”I’m doing exactly what I was doing before”

No, you’re not

”I am”

You are doing it intentionally.


It’s now drift.

”The line is still tang..tailing”

Well stop drifting then.

”What’s the difference between drifting and creeping?”


”Let’s get this right. If I know I am creeping I am drifting. If I don’t know I am drifting it’s creep”

Spot on, creeping is a fault, drift isn’t.

”I didn’t realise there was so much involved in fly casting”.

Ok, you can stop drifting now, your leader is knotted to buggery.

”Damn, that was creep that time”

January 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Insufficient Creep

As per usual, I am in a bit of a quandary. This time it’s definitions. To be more specific, fly casting definitions.

About six years ago the FFF decided to define the actions needed to cast a fly line. Yes, SIX years, and they still have not got a set they are willing to publish. But, they do have a set that is circulating around some influential instructors. I guess they are after some feed back (and I bet they wish they hadn’t  let anyone see them). I admit I have seen them, briefly. I don’t have a copy so I cannot study them and even if I did have a copy I couldn’t publish them because it would be unethical. Now, anyone who knows me fully understands I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to this technical stuff but even I saw some problems. Not so much in the specific definition but each definition has a sub text and some of the stuff I read in the sub text is a bit confusing, which, to my mind, sort of defeats the object of the exercise.

 There seems to be two stumbling blocks, one is in the word ‘sufficient’, ie, use sufficient force to form a loop. On the face of it a simple enough concept. Each cast is different and you use just enough force (sufficient) to do the job. I think 90% of us aren’t bothered what that sufficiency is specifically, we know when we have supplied sufficient force, the fly lands where we want it. Some, however, want to know what specifically what force is sufficient to make a particular cast. Now, I don’t know any, and if I did I would be at pains to avoid them like the plague, instructors who tell you how much force you have to apply to a rod to perform a specific cast. Also, once you have gone down that very slippery slope, where do you stop? if you have told someone they must apply 5 newtons of energy you would also have to be very specific about the start and stop of the stroke so you would have to tell them the exact degrees of casting angle they must move the rod through as well.  I’m a (very) simple casting instructor, not a bloody physicist.

The other problem is creep. Why they even mention a fault in a definition of a perfect cast is completely baffling to me, and why pick on creep when there are a bucket full of other faults they could have mentioned. Part of the problem is that they are trying to rehabilitate creep. They are trying to persuade us that creep is just a motion, neither good or bad. The trouble is that any instructor worth his salt knows creep when he sees it and will work like a demon to fix it. Creep is very rarely a good thing and is always unintentional. Lets take a scenario: as our backcast nears turnover we subconsciously ready ourselves for the forward cast, this generally means the rod hand moves in the direction of the following stroke, then we pause (again, because we have already paused once) andthenwerushintothestroke. Two possibilities, big booming loop with a beginner, or a tailing loop with an intermediate. I won’t bore you why. Say the casting stroke begins when the hand/rod are moved (with purpose) in the direction of the cast then that means the casting stroke of a creeper cannot begin until after the secondary pause, and, they have robbed themselves of valuable stroke length. Just to confuse things, some creepers don’t have a secondary pause, they just have a purposeless forward movement before they start to accelerate the rod properly. Same consequence though. The creep of the secondary pause creeper would fall outside the casting stroke, the creep of  purposeless forward movement creeper would fall within the casting stroke. Why? Because of Drag. Drag is purposeful forward movement of the rod that is the prelude to acceleration and rotation, it is a deliberate preloading and relocation move. Because it is deliberate it falls within the casting stroke. There is always a smooth transition between drag and rotation. The rehabilitation of creep now means that us draggers are now creepers. Our forward stroke begins with deliberate creep, which is a paradox.

 Whatever happened to KISS

January 15, 2011 Posted by | fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Happy New Year


I finished the old one off by having a day’s fishing at Stowting and hard work it was too. Fish are strange creatures. You would have thought that they would be in the 80% of the lake that was ice-free. I eventually found them on the edge of the ice up the shallow end. I was literally casting onto the ice and then retrieving the fly as close to the ice as I could. I eventually landed a ‘bow of about 4 1/2 lb and missed a couple of others.

 The new issue of the FFF mag, Loop, is out  http://www.fedflyfishers.org/Default.aspx?tabid=4469 , if you want something to read. The FFF’s very own Lara Croft, Denise Maxwell, Blog Raider, has been pillaging the site again.  

 It seems the FFF want to create a list of ‘current’ or active instructors. There is a list of instructional activities that have been allocated points. The idea is that provided you can tot up a minimum of ten points a year you will be deemed ‘current’. One of the activities is writing, and getting published, articles on fishing or casting. I have no idea if publishing via your own blog counts or not but even without the blog it would appear I have totted up sufficient points to be deemed current. One great thing is that it does not have to related purely to FFF activities so the workshop I gave and those I attended at the GAIA meeting count, as does the instructing I do for the BFCC.

 Harry Merritt described a nice excercise to get young students to control the size of their loops. Harry seems very committed to working with young people and bemoaned the fact that, apparently, the FFF seem to lack interest in interacting with youth groups such as the Scouts. I can’t help feeling they are missing a trick here.

 Incidently, while on the subject of teaching the young, do Americans have to go through the same process as we (UK) do to teach youngsters. I pretty much have to prove I am not a pedophile before I am allowed to teach them, plus I have to go on a course or two and pass exams. They are not cheap either.

Peter Greenon’s article is especially thought provoking as it pertains directly to me and my quest to be a Master. The main thought being, am I worthy.

 This blog has existed exactly two years now and after a frenetic period where I was writing something every few days it has settled down to being something I use to put some order to my disjointed thoughts. This is order? I hear you say. Compared to what goes on in my head sometimes this is very orderly.

 I don’t think I suffer from SAD but I find it a real struggle to enthuse about anything at this time of year. With that in mind I have cleared out the green house, replaced some broken glass and I am going to get my heated propagator working. I am going to buy compost and seeds and sow them, then I am going to watch them grow. Spring is not that far away, thank goodness.

January 3, 2011 Posted by | BFCC, fly casting, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | 1 Comment