Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Ask Me Another

Say someone asked you what is the most important element in a casting stroke what would you reply? My answer has been, and probably still would be, appropriate power application. The trouble is I suspect the expert answer would be straight line tip path. SLP, the way to tight loops. I have spent years trying to perfect beautiful tight loops. We all want those, don’t we? Do you know, I had to re-learn how to cast wide loops and I really struggled for an hour or two. Non loops, no problem. The trouble is a non loop isn’t a wide loop. A non loop does not have well-defined rod and fly leg, a wide loop does. We do need to be able to cast wide loops sometimes, casting a team of flies or casting a sink tip, for instance. Where is SLP in those instances? We still need to apply the appropriate power though. SLP has always been an ideal we never quite want to achieve. Not that I have ever got close now I think about it. Perfect SLP would be the fly leg sliding along the rod leg, I ain’t ever seen that trick. The nearest I have ever got is the line running into the tip.

So, we don’t always want SLP but I can’t think of a situation where we don’t need to apply appropriate power. We can even get away without a pause, if we use an eliptical stroke.

Slack, we don’t want that do we. Ah, now there’s a thought, perhaps the most important element is maintaining line tension, it’s difficult to make a decent cast if there is slack in the system, it would even mess up power application.

There you go, by a process of elimination we arrive at the answer. The most important element in the casting stroke is the elimination of slack.

Thanks for listening.


February 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Serious Intent. Not.

There are a couple of words being bandied about at the moment and I want to explore them. Intent and Purpose. They have come to my attention in relation to fly casting but while reflecting on them I realised that everything we do has both involved in one way or another. The essence of fly casting is intent and purpose. The essence of life is intent and purpose. You just can’t escape either of them. Of course what you intend to do may not happen, and the purpose that you intended may not work out quite how you intended, after all the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Try it for yourself. Think about any aspect of life and see if you can do anything without intent. You may notice I am now staring vacantly into space, however, there is an intention. I want my mind to wander freely for the purpose of working out where the devil this ramble is going to go and how can I get it back to fly casting. No, I haven’t been on the wacky backy.

How about an automatic reflex I hear you ask. Mmm, tricky one that. I would say it’s the brains intention to save you from something that it thinks will harm you so it’s purpose is to try to save you from injury….or death, so has nothing to do with fly casting..unless you happen to be casting a lead core line with a heavy clouser on it, then injury and death may well be at the forefront of your mind.

You will notice I am keeping a pretty tenuous grip on fly casting in relation to intent, purpose, life and death. I’m a fly casting instructor, the last thing I want you to do is injure yourself…or die, during one of my lessons. My intention is to teach you to cast properly with the purpose of making sure injury and death are not an option, or at least, making them less likely.

So, now to the nub of the problem. If you take intent and purpose away from something like, say, the definitions of a fly casting stroke, you are left with a pretty meaningless list of actions. I don’t think anyone can cast a line without intent or purpose, or try to understand any definition without relating them to intent and purpose.

You may, by now, think I have become slightly unhinged, and who is to say you are not right. But, in my defence, I have had an unnerving experience that has focused the mind. I have sent off my payment for my Masters test. It is now no longer theoretical possibility, it is an actual reality. WTF have I done?

I won’t be writing on here about how my preparation is going, or not going but, I will try to keep a diary from now until the test and I will recount my experience after it has happened. I repeat, WTF have I done?

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Down Down, Deeper an’ Down

I would love to sit here, right now, and write a really interesting and meaningful article that would inspire or illuminate you, but, it ain’t going to happen. My brain is stuck in neutral and it hasn’t picked up enough speed to get me over the next hill. I will get half way up and then trundle backwards all the way back to the bottom. I’m not fishing, I’m not fly tying, I’m doing hardly any meaningful casting practice. I am not even working on the answers I should be working on for my masters.

No, I am cogitating. Of course the brain has to be working for it to cogitate, but cogitating is, by nature, some sort of purposeful idle musing, creep with purpose, if you like, or not.

I am a rare breed in the world of fly casting. Along with the majority of instructors and fly fishing and fly casting forum users. You may think we are not so rare, after all we move in circles where we bump into each other quite regularly so therefore assume we are the majority. Wrong. The vast majority either don’t care or even know we exist And those that do know we exist will usually quite happily ignore us. Of course the vast majority just go fishing. Casting is a necessary evil, not something to get excited about. They manage to enjoy their sport regardless of the fact they wouldn’t know a tailing loop if they saw one, nor do they have the slightest clue about SLP. If you told them they were creeping they would look at you as if you were mad. They might be right at that. How far up the tree of nuttiness do you have to be when you could have a discussion large enough to be a decent (well, long anyway) read if it was turned into a book about something that is all over in five seconds. Worse still, several chapters of the book would be taken up with something that may, or may not, occur in half a second.

I don’t know how long fly fishing, and therefore fly casting has been around. I think the Romans and the Greeks were at it, I am sure I have seen some fly patterns that go back to the year dot. Anyway, I digress. There has been a veritable rain forest worth of books written on the subject. Ok, some of it may be a bit of a waste of several trees but there has been some good stuff as well and I bet they discussed aspects of fly casting we have yet to re-discover. 

Perhaps its human nature to keep re-inventing the wheel. Of course I wasn’t around when the wheel was invented so when I discover one I gradually discover new uses for it. New to me that is. I have since discovered that lots of other people have found the same uses for it that I have, but, has that fact rendered my discoveries meaningless?

 Not to me.

 It’s a pity we don’t have a collective memory where a discovery by one individual means we all discover it. Perhaps the internet is humanities collective memory.

Whoa, deep stuff for a brain in neutral!

February 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment