Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Pragmatically Idealistic

I think very few of us are dominantly one character or another. Most days I am predominantly pragmatic, que sera, sera and all that. I am seldom the perfectionist, thank goodness. What a pain in the arse they can be for a pragmatist. I am not sure how being a pragmatist squares with sometimes getting obsessed and/or becoming totally engrossed in something though, and I have been pretty engrossed with fly casting for several years now. There comes a point though when you wonder what it’s all about. Do I actually need all this stuff when I instruct? Short answer, no. Longer answer, it depends. Everyone is different, we learn differently, we cast differently and we have different goals. So from my pragmatic view-point I just give them what they want. I don’t set their goals and I no longer have the expectations of their achievement I used to have that left me feeling inadequate and despondent, not to mention guilty, when they weren’t achieved. I am not sure where the idealist or perfectionist goes in those situations. Do they blame themselves or the client?

You don’t often see in print an instructor admit to failure, you only read about their successes. Which leads the likes of me, who cannot read between the lines, with the impression that I am the only one with the odd awkward client or, I am the only one who hasn’t got the magic answer to every problem. Of course I know in the back of my mind that this just can’t be. Every instructor has had his or her fair share of failures. They just don’t publicize the fact…..as I sometimes have. Honesty may well not be the best policy. Perhaps I should just focus on my (many) successes and consign the (very few) failures to bad memories rather than printed fact. However, my publicizing my odd failure has had the benefit that I get more tools and tips to add to my repertoire from other instructors who have come across similar problems (which, in private, they will admit). Even if I had actually used most of them in my desperate effort to get a result there will nearly always be a nugget that is worth its weight in gold.

I find a conflict between what I know and how much of what I know to pass on to a student. I may not know as much as you admittedly but I know enough to boggle the mind of your average beginner or intermediate and the last thing I want is a boggled student so I tend to try to keep it simple. I admit there are occasions when a student wants to know the why before he can get to grips with the how but even then I try to stick to the salient points and try not wander off into the murky depths of fly casting theory, especially as fly casting theory is a moving target.

Lets assume this is ten years ago. The theory then was that the hauls sole purpose was to load the rod deeper. I guess this was because it was also thought that rod load accounted for a huge percentage of the cast so the deeper the load the further the cast went. Now we know that the primary purpose of the haul is to increase linespeed and any additional load is caused as a reaction not by intention. We now also know that the stored potential energy (PE) in the rod only accounts for only about a fifth of the momentum we have built up in the fly line, the rest comes from leverage. Did this miss-information stop instructors being able to teach someone to fly cast? No.

There is now some debate that the rod might not be the flexible lever we all thought it was. A lever needs a fulcrum to be a classic lever but a rod has a centre of rotation which is not a fulcrum although, as I understand it (and I don’t) it performs a similar function, or might do is we knew where it was (it moves, so you are never too sure where it is from one moment to the next).

I doubt that any of these ‘new’ facts are in fact new it’s just with the advent of the internet and everyone being able to access and discuss fly casting on the many forums out there we find ourselves re-discovering the wheel over and over again. Ce la vie.


December 16, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,


  1. Mike, if we cannot see, recognise or admit our faults/mistakes how the blazes can we recognise our successes.


    Comment by nirogers | December 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. easily Roger. it’s called ego…

    love this ‘inner conflict’ post Mike. keepem’ comin’ !


    Comment by Marc Fauvet | December 17, 2011 | Reply

  3. Mike, those amongst us who dont admit to struggling with a client every now and again aren’t worth talking to.

    With respect to levers, if you’re refering to the SL Fulcrum arguments, the problem is that like nearly all “phishing physics” there is a seemingly never ending desire to run conflict with 400 odd years of classical mechanics for the sake of a simple explanation for complex phenomena.

    As you say, most of the time and practically speaking, no-one gives a toss about mechanics, but if they did, it is perfectly possible to simplfy complex things for practical teaching purposes. In fact, this seems to me to be hugely desirable, especially when confronted by a problem client.

    That doesn’t make it easy though and we should be careful, in my opinion, not to sacrifice well established facts for the sake of easy instruction. Sadly, mechanics or cast analysis also seems to be very frequently used to establish an individual as having a greater depth of analytical understanding than his or her peers and thus place themselves higher in the heirarchy of the worldwide casting instructor sainthood irrespective of whether they have done any serious instruction or not.

    If you are going to do this then it pays to know WTF you are talking about and, if it turns out that you have just chosen to parrot the last juicy anti-newtonian nugget of instructional genius from another undereducated self publicising glory chaser then you could well end up looking pretty bloody stupid if you can’t hold up your argument when its examined in more detail. .

    There is no reason whatsoever to think that you are not using the rod as anything other than a flexible lever, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever in that thread that would indicate otherwise and it is entirely to the discredit of the individuals who have posted on there that it has made you think that this is somehow now incorrect.

    Some of these people have probably never had a difficult client in their lives….some of them have probably never had a client at all…

    Sheeeesh…fkn winds me right up…

    Comment by stoatstail50 | December 17, 2011 | Reply

  4. OMG Mark, you really should have your own blog, I’d read it. Newton only appeared on my uneducated horizon when I took up fly casting seriously. Fly casting, it’s not so much an exploration as an education.

    I was talking to a scientist this morning and he agrees with you.


    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 17, 2011 | Reply

    • 🙂

      Comment by stoatstail50 | December 17, 2011 | Reply

  5. Great post Mike, and superb comment Mark. Phew! lots to chew on there.

    Thing about the web, and forums in particular, is that you have to take the rough with the smooth. You have to wade through piles of badly written, biased, unedited, uninformed, streams of consciousness to uncover a few nuggets.

    Mostly, on the mechanics side I don’t have the knowledge or the inclination to trawl through pages of graphs and equations which are going nowhere in particular. But I still think ‘Loops is just about the only place I’ve found where it’s occasionally worthwhile. I gave up reading other forums years ago for fear that I might throw something through the computer screen.

    I know the comparison I’m about to make is dubious, but here goes: The quality of some of the casters, instructors, and fishers who read and post on ‘Loops mean that the board is the nearest the FF-ing world has to a peer-review process. Incorrect assertions usually get nailed: it just seems to take 40-odd pages of to-and-fro-ing to get there. And yes that means that people can get ideas above themselves (love “the hierarchy of the worldwide casting instructor sainthood” btw! :-)).

    Occasionally a light is switched on though. The light it shines may not transform my instruction methods, but it does give me something to think about, and might help with my own casting, (I’d highlight some of Aitor’s stuff, Bernd, and Stefan as light-switcher-on-ers for me).

    The link between science and instruction is a strange one. Sometimes a piece of instruction can be less than 100% scientifically correct and still work superbly. I’m sure some people are still teaching that hauls are there to load rods, and guess what? Their clients will be hauling superbly!

    Maybe it’s a bit like homeopathy: The science is totally and utterly crap, but the client feels better, and as long as no harm is done then keep taking the pills. Just don’t bet your life on it – oh, and lock up anyone who says you shouldn’t take scientifically proven, conventional medicine.

    Okay, so maybe it’s not much like homeopathy…

    Comment by Will | December 18, 2011 | Reply

  6. For years I never used any other forum except ‘loops. When I did start looking aroung I just found the level of knowledge was either very low or non existant so when you added your tupence worth it was ignored, started a huge arguement or was ridiculed. I think they are generally a lot better now but ‘loops is still supreme in my opinion.

    It’s strange that on some of the longer, more technical threads, the ones I don’t normally understand, that a small thow away comment will sometimes make you sit up and think when the rest has gone right over your head. Paul has a lot to answer for. I wouldn’t be an instructor for one thing and I suspect neither would a lot of other people. Most of us are probably not destined for sainthood. We are just the soldiers on whos shouders the feet the mighty stand on while they scrabble up the slippery slope of fly casting theology.

    I like the homeopathic analogy by the way…

    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 18, 2011 | Reply

  7. “Now we know that the primary purpose of the haul is to increase line speed…”

    Is that really the function of the haul? Does that mean that you can’t cast with the same line speed when hauling than when using only the rod hand? I surely can.

    The reason for hauling is that it isn’t very intelligent to make a work with only one hand when, in fact, we have two of them. We haul to share the work of casting between our two hands. And this is what I tell to my students. I have never used the expressions momentum, or potential energy… too complicated in my view.

    Comment by aitorsnakeroll | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  8. I would be nowehere without SL too and I’m enormously grateful to the people that populate that site for helping me along. But, discovering very basic things that people have known about for centuries shouldn’t really be heralded as a new and intuitive insight into casting mechanics and, if you are going to lay claim to being an authority on the subject, being incapable of explaining how linked levers work without confusing the sh*t out of people isn’t much to be applauded either, especially if you dont know what the words you are using actually mean.

    Anyway, It’s not just SL, comments on sites elsewhere and the fall out from the Defs stuff, have really genuinely surprised me over the last few months too, makes you wonder whether its worth making comments at all or just retreating into a kinda instructional bubble float and bobbing off downstream into the wide blue yonder….

    ….anyway…Homeopathy…now theres a thing that REALLY rattles my cage… 🙂

    Comment by stoatstail50 | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  9. I agree completely Aitor, the linespeed for a fifty foot cast needs to be exactly the same whether you haul or not. But I still hear the haul loads the rod at some demonstrations with no mention of linespeed or shared work.

    Mark,I learned last night that we are all atomically connected. It’s a pity all those atoms haven’t created a collective memory so that some of us don’t have to keep re-inventing the wheel every few years.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Mike,

      “But I still hear the haul loads the rod at some demonstrations with no mention of linespeed or shared work.”

      And that is the logical result of going on understanding the casting stroke as something whose goal is to load the rod. If you don’t address the origin of the problem you will never solve it.

      Comment by aitorsnakeroll | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  10. Theres a big difference between discovering something you never knew before and saying, “hey, I never knew that” and discovering something you never knew before and then dressing it up as if you knew it all along. Suddenly you’re a fkn world authority on the subject thanks to Google and a quick Wiki search.

    I’m like Aitor, well kinda, a bit bigger actually…but I don’t use technical terms when I teach either, hardly anyone does. That doesnt mean we shouldnt know their relevance to what we are teaching and what those terms actually mean, some of us are supposed to be Masters FFS !!

    On top of this there are those people who just want to be able to reproduce someone elses answers to pass a test, as mind bogglingly evidenced by recent comments from MCCI candidates in the States…basically, “you tell me what you said in your test, I’ll say the same thing in mine and then I’ll pass….no details thanks, just the pithy cliches, and try not to make them too complicated either…” WHAT!!…WTF is that about ?? Its too depressing to think about before Christmas FFS….

    Anyway…we are stardust…and golden…apparently….

    Comment by stoatstail50 | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  11. You really have the Christmas spirit going on there Mark. I thought I was an unpolished diamond, very dense and a bit shiny on top.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  12. i love Mark even more when he starts to grump. in fact, i would have given anything to see his face when he read the word ‘homeopathy’… :mrgreen:

    Comment by Marc Fauvet | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  13. Yeah Marc. It’s something when the comments are longer than the original post……and more entertaining.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | December 19, 2011 | Reply

  14. i wasn’t being sarcastic, just being myself… 😀
    very interesting post and comments. i particularly liked the “You don’t often see in print an instructor admit to failure, you only read about their successes.” bit. a lot could be said on that subject.
    interesting as well to see people let off steam here that collected on SL… :mrgreen:


    Comment by Marc Fauvet | December 20, 2011 | Reply

  15. […] the full article here share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in fly casting […]

    Pingback by Pragmatically Idealistic Thoughts | the limp cobra | February 3, 2012 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: