Mike Heritage FFF MCI UK

Fly casting and talking fly casting bollox

Losing My Hare

So, what do you get when you fall in love? (Again, with fly fishing). You get bloody moths, or more specifically you discover that any natural material not sealed properly has been devoured. I have skeletons where I use to have wings, my seals fur has been consumed and my squirrels tails are just bone. Whole capes have been decimated. It’s that time of year where I am spending ages trying to find out what the fish are feeding on. I suppose I could take the short cut and kill the first fish and spoon it but I really don’t want to so, as it’s been many years since I have fished regularly, I am a bit flummoxed. I suspect it’s time to dust off some old books and do a bit of studying. Anyway, I decided to tie some flies I think may be effective. Having an unexpected day off and it’s pouring down and blowing hard, so fishing really isn’t an option, I decide to tie some flies and discovered the carnage. Luckily all my Whitings capes were sealed but most of my Indian and Chinese capes, or what’s left of them, have been consigned to the dustbin, no big loss really, just annoying. Seals fur is another matter though, it’s all gone and I will have to restock sometime. I found one pheasant tail just about usable for ptn’s and daddy bodies but my hares mask is dust so no grhe’s for a while until I get it replaced. Of course, before I buy any new material I am going to have to go through all my stuff and root out the anything suspect. We have a spare freezer at the moment and I will chuck it all in there for a week or two and see how they like that.
The Big Question is, what are the bloody fish taking. They have been cruising around, just showing a dorsal and top of the tail obviously taking something just subsurface. They rarely take off the top. Buzzers you are all shouting, and it’s true I have caught several on them, but not consistently. In fact I rarely catch on the same fly more than twice at the moment. Six fish and four different flies yesterday, for instance. I’m not seeing a hatch going on but they are on something. They will chase though, so I have tied some old fashioned lures to see if I can provoke them.
Re the knots I have talked about before. Mark Surtees insists that the uni knot and the grinner are the same knot, they are not, or at least the way I tie them they are not. I tried his uni knot and guess what? The first fish I hooked pinged the knot. Back to the blood knot, which hasn’t let me down so far, so long as I give it a really good pull after tying it. I have had the odd one slip when testing it so I always double check now. The grinner/uni always appears to lock down nicely but breaks at the knot when I strike into a fish. Yes, I do wet it as it beds down.


June 20, 2016 Posted by | Fly Fishing | Leave a comment

Like a Blue Arsed Fly

Bloody Hell, it’s a tough life being a casting instructor. I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to even go fishing let alone update this blog. I did start a piece about the ‘loops gathering in Strathdon but I didn’t get time to finish it and because it happened more than twenty-four hours ago I have forgotten what went on, except, we did have a good time, made some new friends and got re-aquanted with old ones. I didn’t do any actual fishing but I did watch some Aus lose a salmon, again. I will have to have a go at this salmon fishing lark. It seems you just keep chucking flies into a known pool and, eventually, one will get really pissed off at being continually buzzed by some fur and feather concoction and have a go at it. Getting it to stay hooked is another matter, apparently. Or, you just run a Woolly Bugger through some runs trying to catch a trout and a salmon decides it’s lunch time and before you know what’s what you have a seven or eight pound salmon on the bank Like Trevor Bourne did http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9UMTClI3LI . I did film Matt losing his fish but I don’t have the heart to put it up on Youtube.

I had a very nice weekend with the BFCC at Sportfish last weekend. Saturday was particularly hectic with virtually non stop instructing most of the day, even though we had help from various quarters as Paul Arden, Gilly Bate and Matt Howell stepped in to give me, Mark Surtees, Roger Miles ,Mike Marshall and Alex Titov a occassional break. One thing that really surprised me was the amount of women who wanted to have a go. In fact there were far too many for Mike Marshall to monopolise and we all had our share, for a change. I love teaching women, they are generally a lot easier than men. I was lucky to have a couple who showed real promise, one in particular was so good I stopped the lesson a bit early because I didn’t want to run the risk of it all going wrong. The BFCC really seems to be meeting a need at the moment as our meetings seem to be getting busier and busier, almost to the point where competitions are getting harder to organise around all the instructing going on.

I have just got in from running a casting clinic for a local syndicate water and I have other lessons in the pipeline. This has been my busiest year so far and my garden is suffering, I have seeds to sow and a lawn in dire need of a good mowing. Ah, I see I am free tomorrow afternoon. I bet it rains.

May 19, 2012 Posted by | BFCC, fly casting, Fly Fishing, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Day To Remember

I was beginning to think my luck was running out. No-one in the car park. I had better grab my gear and get walking. Long trudge, don’t recognise any of this, backtrack, walk over the bridge to another area. Hmm, vaguely familiar, ten minutes later I spot the cormorant colony but there is a huge lake between me and it. Bugger. Turn around and walk back to the right path. Finally I spot the familiar face of Gary Inwards and sigh with relief. Waltamstow reservoirs is a big area with lots of waters. I have been there before but am usually chatting away and not taking much notice of where I am going, hence getting a bit lost.

Gary is Chairman on the Walthamstow fly-fisher club and had invited me and Andy Hathaway to take a group of beginners for the day. I wandered up to the hut we use as headquarters for the day to meet Andy, who I had never met before. It turns out Andy was an old hand at this stuff and I was quite happy to take the advice he was offering as we set the rods up and waited for the group to arrive. When they did it was a quick chat, hand out rods to those who didn’t have any, tie on some leaders and tags, split them into two groups and off we go. I did a demonstrate and explain, got them facing in the right direction and off we went. Two hours later there were some reasonable loops and tired arms so we took a break and some of them went off to the hut where Gary had them tying their first flies. They must have been naturals because between five or six of them they tied enough buzzers for the afternoons fishing in about half an hour! Ok, tie on some leaders, show them how to tie on a fly, space them out along the dam wall. Damn me if someone wasn’t into a fish within minutes, then someone else, and so it went on all afternoon. The fish were cruising along the dam at 25′ or 30′ out. Two or three were not catching but we had been joined by a couple of club members who helped out with the fishing and they would hook a fish and hand the rod over for them to play in, and boy, these fish didn’t want to come in, there were some mighty tussles and great excitement. When one of the girls took a rod from the guy looking after her, I grabbed her own rod for her. Of course I had to have a cast and just as she netted the fish she was playing a fish grabbed the fly I was fishing on her rod so I just handed her the rod back to play it in. It turned out to be a fin perfect overwintered rainbow of over three pounds!

Andy and I then concentrated on another girl who, we thought, was the only one who hadn’t caught but after ten minutes she said her husband also hadn’t caught so I went off to help him. I said I wanted to check his set up and took the rod and a fish hit the moment I started to strip line in so I just handed him the rod back. They must have thought Andy and I were a couple of magicians because we hooked up nearly every time we had a rod in our hands. My own magic moment came when a spot opened up on the dam as people were off admiring their fish and having their photos taken so I picked up my seven weight and just blasted a cast as far as I could, a couple of minutes later a missile launched into the air well over 100′ out and I was into another overwintered fish.

The day really couldn’t have gone any better, there were a lot of happy newbie fly fishers ,an amazed club chairman and two satisfied casting instructors.

April 15, 2012 Posted by | fly casting, Fly Fishing, Fly tying, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Sound Of One Hand Clapping

Did you realise there were people out there who neither know about, or even want to know about, fly casting and fly fishing? I know, I didn’t believe it myself…..until this weekend. No, they are more interested in dogs, horses, owls, hawks, ferrets and wildfowling. It’s true, I’m not making this up!

It started auspiciously enough, sunny and warm, unheard of in living memory. Detling is where cold, wet and windy lives on a near permanent basis for most of the year. I guess it wanted a a day out on saturday and took itself off for day trip somewhere. I drew the short straw and had to do the first demo of the day in a small indoor arena with hardy anyone even at the show let alone wanting to see a fly casting demonstration. I was the warm up act with no-one to warm up. You would think that for a near demo virgin the idea of no-one seeing you would be quite comforting. It’s not, it is in fact quite unnerving to be talking to yourself for half an hour. However, I did discover a few hazards to avoid for my next scheduled humiliation, like overhead lights and roof trusses. I also discovered the limitations of using an MPR as a demo tool.

The next demo was in the outdoor arena. Much better all round. I actually had an audience, all three of them. Whoever you were, thank you. The last indoor demo of the day was an improvement on the first one by some margin, I actually heard a clap when I finished, only one, but I was grateful.

Heather and I then had to rush off to Muswell Hill to get to Marks reception before the food was gone, which thankfully we did as we hadn’t eaten all day. I will say no more about the wonderful evening other than to comment that Mark and Christina have some interesting friends and even more interesting relatives, and lots of them.

Day two started at a Hotel in Muswell Hill on the same morning the clocks went forward and we were meant to be somewhere else an hour ago, but we made it back to Detling where cold, wet and windy was back from it’s day off and had brought it’s mate, fog, for a visit. We could hardy see the area, just across the road, that had been set aside for the BFCC to give casting lessons. I was once again the warm up act in the indoor arena. Guess what? I actually had an audience to warm up. What a difference it makes to have some people to interact with. The demo had a purpose, and it showed. I even did a mini casting clinic for the last few minutes where I asked if anyone had any specific problems they wanted answered and tried to give them some solutions. Blessedly the fog decided to go home before my next outdoor demo and I was actually visible to those who were watching (yes, there were a few). I turned the wind to my advantage and focused on casts to cope with windy conditions and did the casting clinic again and overran my time by ten minutes.

Normal service was resumed at my last indoor demo. I was running out of steam and turned to one dogged spectator in the hope of ending with another mini casting clinic. ”Do you fly fish?”, he shook his head and I learned the real meaning of despair.

Ok, I have exagerated…slightly. I did enjoy it, I learned a lot. One lesson I am considering is training up something furry, feathery and/or cute for an audience to ahh at while I run through my program. I now understand why you never see Charles Jardine without his dog Midge.

On the plus side Mike Marshall, and Roger Miles with Terry Jenner snapping away merrily had a quite successful first year at the show providing BFCC casting instruction to those who were actually interested in fly fishing and fly casting. Nice one lads.

March 25, 2012 Posted by | BFCC, fly casting, Fly Fishing, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | | 3 Comments


Is it me? I ask myself. Am I the only one who is up to here with information? Am I the only one to raise a jaundiced eyebrow (and they take some raising I can tell you) at yet another debate that gets mired in technicalities.

I claim to be a poet but I’m not sure that is really a correct description. I am more your practical tradesman. I see a problem and I get over it or around it or under it. There is some thought process involved but not the endless theorising which still leaves you with the problem to get round, under or over. By the time the theorists have made a decision (which may be an oxymoron as I have never seen a theorist conclude anything) I have succeeded by trial and error and experience, (which theorists seem to ignore) and moved on to the next problem.

At the moment there is a discussion on the benefits of a bendy rod. Well, take a broom stick fishing and if you can’t see why it wasn’t one of your best ideas within the first thirty seconds you are in the wrong sport. It may be of some use, say, vaulting from one bank to the other without getting your feet wet, or as a wading staff, but as a fishing and casting tool it would rate along side a chocolate tea-pot in practicality.

There, I’ve run out of rant. Now what? It’s midday and it’s still minus two, which is beginning to feel quite normal. The six inches of snow we had last weekend is still four inches thick and makes it difficult to see the fly line when I am practicing. See? how dedicated am I? I suffer for my sport. Numb thumbs and a runny nose whilst talking to myself as I run through the presentations I will be giving in March. And, damn me if I wasn’t enjoying it, how bloody odd is that?

There is another interesting discussion going on about TLT or Italian style casting. I was going to give it a go in the field this morning but the only three weight line I have spooled up is white. I theorised for a few seconds and decided that a white line against a grey sky and a white field wasn’t going to allow me to see anything useful. I concluded I would be better off going back indoors, have a coffee, write this and then make myself a nice hot bowl of soup. After that I might pluck up the courage to throw a practical hand grenade into the discussion on the benefits of a bendy rod……or not.

February 12, 2012 Posted by | fly casting, Fly Fishing, forum debates, Mike Heritage | , , | 9 Comments

I’m In With The In Crowd

I am pleased to announce I have joined the Barrio Pro Team   http://www.flylineshop.com/barrio-pro-team.html . I have always worried about having an involvement with a manufacturer. I enjoy the freedom of being able to say pretty much what I like and I had a fear that any involvement would restrict me in some way. So, it is quite a relief that I have no such problems with Mike Barrios products. I use Barrio lines and his three weight custom rod has been my go to fishing rod ever since I bought it. I was first approached by Mike a few years ago to help design a distance line. A while later, and with input from others, the GT140 was created. I’m sure that with Marc and Will and me suggesting thisnthat  Mike will be beavering away in his shed trying to turn our suggestions into real products which we will then have the pleasure of field testing.

Mike has quietly built up quite a successful little business based around quality products at reasonable prices and I look forward to watching it grow even more successful in the future.

Happy days.

February 11, 2012 Posted by | fly casting, Fly Fishing, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | , | 7 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

Should Have Gone To Specksavers

I spent a very instructive evening with Charles Jardine on Monday. He was the guest tier at the Canterbury Fly Dressers Guild get together and now I am suffering the consequences because I am trying to emulate him by tying flies I can hardly see. My immediate reaction is that if I can’t see them what chance do the fish have? Charles is quite adamant that not only can the fish see them they can tell a well tied one (his) from one of mine. He also claims that the smaller the fly the less likely the fish is to reject it. This goes against all my fishing philosophy. My attitude is that no-one would pass a fiver on the pavement. Same with fish, stick a bait in front of them and they will take it. The trouble is they don’t do they. Oh no, put a nice black buzzer on their nose and they either run a mile, ignore it, or worse still, come and have a look and turn disdainfully away. Bloody fish.

However Charles is knocking on a partially open door. I fished earlier this week for three hours, two and a half of which saw me chucking every fly in the box to no avail. I finally decided to put a very small (by my previous standards) gold head GRHE nymph on and just let it do its own thing in the slight ripple. I missed the first take out of pure surprise, hit and landed the second and lost a third in some weeds. I had finally found the method but run out of time. I will have then next time ‘cos I now have some even smaller flies to confound them with.

How small is small? My previous small was a 14 or maybe a 16, I am now tying 18’s and 20’s and still have several sizes to go before I get to Charles size but I will either have to get a magnifying glass or some strong glasses before I attempt them, oh, and some finer silk and finer wire and finer materials, smaller beads, not to mention smaller hooks.

I wish I had taken a camera to the tying evening. All the flies Charles tied were exquisite (of course) but the stand out fly was a minute Shipman that was perfectly proportioned and clean. I can’t tie a good-looking Shipman on a hook I can see let alone one I can’t.

December 9, 2011 Posted by | Fly Fishing, Fly tying, Mike Heritage, Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

You Cannot Be Serious

Well, I can be sometimes. When I have something to say or someone winds me up I may put on my serious face, but generally I’m a bit more tongue in cheek than deeply meaningful. Now and again some good stuff slips out but it’s usually more by accident than design. I just write what I think and usually with nothing specific in mind other than the fact I feel the need to write, like now, for instance.

My life has focused around fly casting for about twelve years now. Before that I just used to go fishing and never bothered about the casting. Actually, thinking back, I have always enjoyed casting. There was a period where I was quite interested in beach casting. I even got to about 200yds in the field, which by todays standard is a mere flick because some of the top guys are hitting 300 metres plus. I have spent many a happy night on some bleak and freezing beach trying to untangle a birds nest on my multiplier. I refused to use a fixed spool on the grounds that they were the reel of choice of a ditter and not a serious minded sea angler, like wot I was. Idiot.

Of all the fishing I have done over the years I think I enjoyed coarse fishing the most. The early mornings with the sun just coming up and the mist rising off the water. The mini bubbles fizzing up around the lilies as the tench feed around the roots. All the usual romantic stuff. I only got into fly fishing in the first place because of the old close season. Fishing was an obsession in those days and to go a week, let alone three months, without going fishing was unbearable. Eventually I found the process of going fly fishing so much simpler than all the kerfuffle that surrounded going coarse fishing. Just grab the rod and waistcoat and go. No bait to buy or ground-bait to mix, no pinkies to sort out, no smell of sweaty maggots, no swarms of blue bottles flying around the van on hot days from all the escaped maggots. Just box of flies I had tied and some odds and ends and I was good to go.

I readily admit I am not even close to being a great angler. Generally the fishing was just an excuse be on my own. I have always needed me time and I have always enjoyed the slightly ethereal quality of being somewhere relatively remote on my own so fishing was perfect for me. I am not usually a joiner of clubs, those I have joined were only to access some water or other, never the social side. I have enjoyed the odd day fishing in company but generally I was alone and paid the consequences of being a loner by hardly ever fishing with someone better than me and thereby learning from them.

The sudden obsession with the art of fly casting took me by surprise. I had no intension of developing a near anal interest in it. To decide to learn to cast a five weight as far as is humanly possible is not really normal, is it? Couple that with my dwindling interest in fishing for the stock fish which is the vast majority of the easily reached fishing in the area I live and you have the recipe for the creation of another obsession. Fly casting can be solitary but then it really would be pointless. Just you a rod and a tape measure is the road to insanity. You, a rod, a tape measure and some like minded friends may be communal insanity but you do get to meet some interesting people.

October 15, 2011 Posted by | Distance casting, fly casting, Fly Fishing, Mike Heritage | 1 Comment

And So It begins

A few ideas have been on the back-burner for a while as I have been concentrating on other things, or, one other thing anyway (I am a one thing at a time sort of person).

Nothing is concrete, or even in the mixer yet. I have to discuss things with people I hope will also be involved before I can firm things up. I think my aim is to give something back to a hobby or sport, call it what you will, that has been the focus for a huge part of the last eleven years and has given me so much pleasure and personal achievement.

I have bemoaned the fact that my part of the country is not very well served for those of us interested in fly fishing and especially fly casting. If I had a pound for all the solitary hours I have spent practicing I would be quite a wealthy man. Unfortunately I wasn’t and I’m not!

The general idea is to help prepare people who want to become instructors by running mentoring sessions, workshops and pre test run throughs. I am hoping this will not be any association specific but there may be hurdles to this, we will just have to see how it pans out.

Another thing I intend to try to do in the near future is hold a BFCC regional event at the bottom of my garden. There is a cricket pavilion that can host a social event after the casting is over (bar and all). The lack of  which is something I have heard a few moans about over the years. Provided there are three BFCC members present to ratify distances then casts will also be eligible for club records, if any are broken. There is enough space for all the events to be run provided I can get hold of the club T38 and T120 rods. I need to discuss possible dates with the cricket club before I can finalize details.

So there we are.  Big ideas and not much of a clue how to get them to fruition. Anyone with ideas feel free to email me.

So there

May 21, 2011 Posted by | BFCC, fly casting, Fly Fishing, Flycasting instruction, Mike Heritage | 7 Comments