Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

All Right My Lover

The BFCC had an excellent day in ‘alright my lover country’ last weekend. Devon is very green compared to my corner of the country. The only bugbear was that for some reason the lines just didn’t turnover despite a nice breeze. If a lot of the casts hadn’t just collapsed most distances would have been ten or more feet better. Still, those were the conditions on the day and we all did our best.

I have been mulling over what type of instructor I am. I have concluded that because a lot of the instructing I do is twenty-minute ones for the BFCC at our instructing events I tend towards the quick fix. Not necessarily a bad thing because you quickly learn to get to the nub of the problem and try to fix it. If the client goes away happy then it’s job done, if we enthuse them then even better. However, this short burst style instructing probably colours the way I approach my other instructing, which may or may not be a good thing.  I have never used a lesson plan, for instance. I talk to the client and try to find out what they want from the lesson, mostly realistic but sometimes not. I am also a great believer in getting them casting as soon as possible which gives me a chance to assess their skill level. If I see a problem or two I address those first, hopefully sorted quite quickly before we move on to what they want, be it distance, double hauling, presentation etc. But, sometimes we never get beyond trying to fix the faults, which can be frustrating for both of us no doubt. This is why I can’t see the use of a lesson plan for individual clients or even couples come to that. In fact when having two or more I think it’s even more important to be flexible because so often one will progress much faster than the other. I know this can sometimes lead to me running around like a blue arsed fly and leaving me knackered after a couple of hours but if at the end of it I feel that there has been satisfactory improvement then I am happy to do it.

There has been some talk recently about teaching the mechanics to students. By this I mean we explain what they are trying to achieve and how to achieve it. I take this to mean the five essentials or a version of them. I have seen some clients eyes glaze over when I have tried to explain Straight Line (tip)Path (SLP), I think a lot of them would lose the will to live if I then went on to explain the other four essentials. In the last four years I can think of only four or five occasions where I realised the client actually needed to understand why before they could get to grips with the how, and a couple of those latched onto the theory as an excuse not to actually do any casting, they just wanted to talk (bollocks mainly).

There is also a huge difference between teaching beginners, intermediates and potential casting instructors. Beginners come in all sorts, from never holding a rod of any description before to those who come from another fishing discipline. intermediates also fall into several groups, those who have fly fished for years and are self-taught (me ten years ago), those who are competent casters but have a problem they want cured, those who want to add a few feet of distance, etc. Perhaps a few of the intermediate would benefit from an understanding of the mechanics. Potential casting instructors are the only group that actually have to understand the mechanics. They need to know to pass their assessment, they need to know so that they can see and fix casting faults, they need to know so they don’t look a complete pillock when discussing fly casting to other instructors (easily done btw).

This year in particular I will have many opportunities in various scenarios to try to adapt my instruction to suit the situation. I am going to try a more formal demonstrate and explain at a couple of casting clinics. I will be doing the full on mechanics with Mark Surtees at the EWF in Munich where we are holding a workshop for CCI candidates. I will be doing loads of quick fixes at BFCC events and I will trying different approaches on the one to one lessons I do.

The more instructing I do the more I enjoy it. I just hope a few of my clients enjoy it as well.


April 5, 2012 - Posted by | BFCC, fly casting, Flycasting instruction, forum debates, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized


  1. Hi Mike,
    I wonder why so many instructor tests, certifications, continuing education programs… if the old “from 10:00 to 02:00” seems to work so well.

    Comment by Aitor | April 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. I don’t agree that 10:00 02:00 works Aitor. It’s a bit like a clock that has stopped, it will be right twice a day. A fixed casting arc and stroke will probably only be right once during the casting cycle.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | April 6, 2012 | Reply

  3. Well, 10:00 to 02:00 actually works for eight hours a day. Not bad at all. 🙂

    Comment by Aitor | April 6, 2012 | Reply

  4. Love your description of Devon – Stationed there for a few years. It reminds me of the time I drove our Water Development Officer to a Trout Farm some way past Clithero when he turned and said “we are well and truely in E country now” and seeing my puzzled look said “you know – as in Eh! ba gum”.

    Comment by nirogers | April 8, 2012 | Reply

  5. ” I think a lot of them would lose the will to live if I then went on to explain the other four essentials.”
    try to figure what would happen then if you had to explain Hume’s critic of causality to them…
    that’s what I do for a living. lots of casualties, I tell you.

    Comment by g0ne fishin9 | April 11, 2012 | Reply

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