Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox


A question for all you fellow instructors. Let’s assume the usual standard of client; beginner to intermediate. They have never had a lesson and have never given the mechanics of fly casting a second thought. The beginner can’t cast, obviously. The intermediate can cast a fly onto the water, in a fashion. He catches fish, he just knows he should be casting better than he is.

With beginners I do an explain and demonstrate emphasising accelerating the line by using casting arc, stroke length and stopping the hand, which, if done correctly, will lead to loop formation. I really emphasise that the whole point of the excercise is to create a dynamic loop.

I have often been astonished at the lack of understanding about what is going on during the cast when I teach intermediates so I often go through the exact same explain and demonstrate to try to flesh out their understanding of what should be happening. Several times I have had the comment ‘you were right about the loop thing’. It can be a real eye opener for some.

I then pass them the rod and see what happens. Sometimes, like last weekend, I hand them the rod and they can make an acceptable cast immediately. I have even had a few beginners ‘get it’ almost straight away and the next hour or more is just pure joy. Most don’t ‘get it’ immediately though and that’s when the bag of tricks come out, Lee Cummings triangle method, horizontal, etc etc.

I am now quite comfortable doing it this way but I sometimes wonder how others start with new clients.

Care to pass on your method?


July 12, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Hi there,

    I’ve never had a complete beginner, every student over here has been fly fishing for some time. We call them “false beginners” and, most probably, they are harder to teach than true beginners.

    What is a “dynamic loop”?

    Comment by Aitor | July 12, 2012 | Reply

  2. I don’t know if it’s just happening to me Aitor but with my own instructing and the BFCCs I am seeing a lot of people trying fly fishing for the first time. You are right that teaching someone to break bad habits is often harder than starting from scratch.

    For me a dynamic loop is the heart of the cast. It doesn’t necessarily have to be tight. It’s one of those conceptual things that is difficult to explain in words.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | July 12, 2012 | Reply

  3. So you can make an overhead cast with a “non-dynamic” loop?

    Comment by Aitor | July 12, 2012 | Reply

  4. Mike, this goes back to a Jim Watkins article I have read, 4 steps to the student gaining understanding, instructor explains and demonstrates the cast, then the student explains whilst the instructor demonstrates, then the student demonstrates and the instructor explains then the student does it all him or herself.

    As for a dynamic loop, I never use an technical terms when teaching until i can establish how the student absorbs the information, not sure I can produce a dynamic loop!!


    Comment by Chris Aldred | July 12, 2012 | Reply

  5. Hi Chris, nice to see you here. You will have to point me to that article, it sounds an interesting read.

    Yes Aitor. I can make an o/h cast with a non loop. Are you happy if your client can only produce an o/h cast with non loops?

    Comment by Mike Heritage | July 12, 2012 | Reply

  6. We get a lot of beginner quests on corporate days, you have to get them going asap. A 5 to 10 minute initial “elbow up elbow down” usually gets them able to join the fun pretty quickly, and get out 20 to 30ft of line. Some amaze me some don’t. I have come to the conclusion that you can’t really teach very much, but you can get them to learn by enthusing and motivating them to do the practice, and make the repeats necessary to get it. 15 minutes on the lawn, about 3 days a week for a couple of months should do the trick, after that you have something to work on. Apart from the odd savant I have rarely found that an hour or even a day will produce a caster. You have to put the hours in and, distance apart (maybe?), fishing is the true motivator to do the necessary work.

    Comment by Tony King | July 16, 2012 | Reply

  7. A pretty pragmatic approach Tony, similar to mine I think. Gone (thank God) are the day’s when my expectations were so high I used to become pretty depressed at the lack of progress by some students. Getting them to practice between lessons is an issue though.

    Comment by Mike Heritage | July 17, 2012 | Reply

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