Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Footloose And Fancy Free

It’s odd how something sticks in your brain and stays there when a lot of other stuff just goes in….and then goes straight back out again (see, I have a theme running). One of the things that stayed in was part of a demo I watched Hywel Morgan do at the BFFI show at Trentham a few years ago when he explained why it was necessary to open the stance the further you were trying to cast. It’s obvious when you think about it but it does sort of go against the grain of traditional (or old-fashioned) instructing where if you were right-handed you were told you should stand with your right foot slightly forward (closed stance). This is a good stance for close in work like some river  fishing or short-range target practice. It has the benefit that if you bend the right knee a bit and you lean forward slightly it will automatically alter your casting plane from horizontal to a more high back cast low forward cast. If you stayed in the closed stance and tried to cast further you will start to find your arm movement becomes increasingly restricted, your elbow is locking up and it is difficult to take the forarm much past vertical. If you are a confirmed closed stance caster you now have a problem if you want to bang out a long one. Your shoulder. The way we are designed means that if you want to open up your stroke length your hand path will have to curve around it. Tracking gets screwed, you start to get swinging loops and you lose accuracy, plus, it can become uncomfortable. The simple answer is to open your stance, bring your right foot (for a right handed caster) slightly behind you, angle your body slightly clockwise and hey presto, you suddenly find you have a bit of room to manouvre your hand in a straight line rather than having it curve it. The further you want to cast the more open the stance. Look at it like switching from throwing a dart to throwing a javiline. Yes I know some distance casters use a closed stance. In fact most of them don’t. They have developed a stepping action that takes them from closed to open and back to closed for the delivery. I stopped doing it that way because I kept falling over!

The purpose of stance is to put your body into a position where it can most effectively make the cast you want to perform but I don’t see any reason to be dogmatic about it. Many times, while fishing, my stance is dictated more by the terrain than by the cast I want to make. It’s not very likely you are ever going to tell yourself you can’t cast at that fish because the boulders under you feet make it impossible to stand in the prescribed stance for the cast you want to make.


January 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mike Marshall Rides Again (review)

Review; dvd, Single handed distance fly casting, Mike Marshall.
Mike Marshall is unique in the world of fly casting and fly casting instruction. He became a champion fly caster through sheer determination and a renowned instructor by accident. He has developed, with the aid of an acutely analytical brain and engineering background, a style of instruction that has been honed by teaching, quite literally, thousands and thousands of people to cast a fly line. More recently he is also the one man who has spearheaded a resurgent BFCC with his determination, hard work behind the scenes and sheer bloody mindedness. When he sets out to do something it gets done. So I wonder why I am surprised that when he decides to leave a legacy and create a fly casting library for the BFCC that his first creation is such an epic. Epic in scope that is, not cinematic quality, he is the first to admit he is no George Lucas or even Michael Winner. In fact he had never used a video camera until he started this project. Personally I have to think he was (is) either mad, naive or stupendously brave to decide to create a dvd that will tell you, step by step, everything you need to know to go from being a beginner to a potential champion in one dvd. And do it without any help. The mind boggles.
170 minutes, ten short of three hours. It’s long. I know. I sat through it in one hit. I am glad I did though and I urge you to do the same the first time you view it because you soon forgive the cinematic quality, the odd fuzzy slo-mo and the dog. There is some fascinating stuff in there, certainly things I didn’t know or had never considered, and, as the chapters go by you start to get a flavour of the man and his methods.
Once you have watched it through you can then go back to any of the 22 segments that you may be working on and refresh your memory before going out to practice again. I wish I had something like this to refer to a few years ago when all I wanted to do was hurl a five weight line to the horizon, it might have saved me months or years of frustration.
This is really three dvds in one and I think it does suffer in some respects because the scope is just too large. I found that I actually wanted more detail in some of the sections. There is plenty of food for thought though. From the detailed analysis of the double haul how to repair a cracked line. From the coins to the money shots of a Master at work.
This is the first in a proposed series of dvds on all aspects of fly casting that will eventually fill the BFCC library.
Bring it on.
The dvd is available from the  www.thebfcc.co.uk website.

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Impressionist

It’s odd how something sticks in your brain and stays there when a lot of other stuff just goes in….and then goes straight back out again. I guess it’s to do with your character and the thing that stuck just reinforced a particular trait you may have. When taking a casting assessment we are exhorted to ‘make it look easy’, give the impression, at least, that we know what we are doing. I’m not sure where the line is drawn between the impression of confidence or the appearance of arrogance is though. Is standing there in no particular stance, chewing gum and one hand in your pocket while executing an over powered curve cast a sign of confidence or arrogance?

I admit to being an impressionist, I’m not into minute detail. You can tell that just by looking at any fly I tie. You can tell it’s a fly, you’re  just not quite be able to tell which one it’s meant to be. Thank goodness the fish don’t seem to mind. You could imagine a nice fish sidling up to one of my flies and wondering what the hell is that supposed to be? then calling his mate over ” Hey Basil, have you seen this?” ”By heck George, what is it?”  ”I don’t know Basil but I am getting the irresistable urge to eat it”. ”George, GEORGE, what’s up? Come back George”

Back to casting. To make it look easy you do actually have to be able to do the cast first and work on the nonchalance later. For instance, long before I became interested in becoming an instructor I was a distance freak. I had spent years trying to hit the horizon. One of the tasks in the test was a ‘distance’ cast to seventy-five feet. I was so used to balls out, gung-ho, blast the f***** out there style casting that I had all sorts of problems reining myself in to a ‘make it look easy’ style. I never worried too much if a distance cast tailed a bit, it would untail itself and still reach 120′. The result was what mattered not how it looked or a few knots in the leader. Suddenly I am faced with having to do a piddly little seventy-five feet cast that looks good as well. No tails, nice loop and parallel legs. It took me hours and hours to make it ‘look easy’.

It’s a strange thing but once you have passed the test all the casts, even the ones you may have struggled with, seem easy. I suppose the pressure is off, the element of fear has gone and you just relax and a relaxed caster is a better caster.

After a while you may look back and think to yourself that it was quite easy. You may even think the tasks should be more of a challenge. If  this was your first test then you may decide to challenge yourself to go to the next level. You pass and after a while you look back and think it should have been harder. I think this is natural, but, it is also wrong. I think Caesar used to have a slave riding in his chariot whose job was to keep reminding him he was just a mortal. Not a job to relish, I would imagine. Piss Caesar off once too often and you were likely to discover your own mortality quicker than you had hoped.

It may be a onerious job but it needs doing. That’s not to say you still don’t have to give a damn good impression that you know what you are doing though. You still have to deserve to be Caesar.

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Distance casting, fly casting, Fly Fishing, Fly tying, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Busy Busy

What is the difference between a demonstration a workshop or a presentation? I guess a demo has to be entertaining as well as informative. You may be engaging with people who don’t have a clue what fly fishing or casting is about or the audience may all be fly fishers (you hope there is an audience at least). I don’t suppose there is much scope for audience participation, or there is but you would have to be supremely confident to drag someone out of the audience and hope you can pull off whatever you intend using them for. A workshop also wants to be entertaining and informative but you will expect participation from those attending. It will be more focused on one aspect rather than the broader brush used in a demonstration. Presentations fall somewhere between the two and are usually shorter, probably focusing on a detail that the presenter is interested in. A presentation could also be used to hone an aspect of a demo or workshop you may be working on.

I have shied away from all three in the past. I have done one or two small-scale demonstrations and I suppose the help I have given to anyone wanting to be an instructor can be classed as workshops, but I haven’t had the nerve to do a decent presentation. It is always in the company of your peers and I baulked at the thought I could teach any of them anything they didn’t already know. That was my excuse anyway, it was probably more a fear of looking a complete idiot in front of your friends. 

It’s all about to change. I have been asked to stand in at a two-day show that the regular (and well-known) presenter can’t attend this year. I am one of those people who find it hard to say no and often find myself doing something I don’t really want to be doing. The first reaction to being asked if I would do it was to say no, no, no. Thanks for asking and thinking I was good enough but No. There was several seconds of, you have too, no you don’t, yes you do, it will be great, no it won’t it will be a disaster, coward, chicken, you’re supposed to be a bloody master, where’s your balls? I don’t need this. Yes you do, do it……….. Yes, I’d love to do it, thank you so much.  Eight demos over two days???? Fuck, what have I let myself in for?

Then, I suddenly had a bright idea for a presentation as well so I can happily step forward at the sexyloops gathering in May instead of standing at the back hoping no-one will notice me.

Anyone know any good casting jokes?



January 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 9 Comments