Hello Again Everyone,
Welcome to the Spring Newsletter! Hope you had a good winter! I continue to teach on a regular basis and even get out fishing sometimes. Please contact me if you're interested in a spring tune up on your casting and line control techniques. I would love to help improve the number of opportunities you have to catch fish. Many casts become less difficult with appropriate technique and improved accuracy. As always, beginners are welcome. Ask me about the new Fly Fishers International Fly Casting Skills Challenge as it is a great, fun way to improve skills and measure progress.
I hope you enjoy the newsletter as it comes from my experience teaching and fishing.
Until next time, Tight Loops,
UPCOMING EVENTS AND INFORMATION
April 28-29, 2018: The Fly Fishing Rendezvous, Jefferson County Fairgrounds: : Clear Creek Fly Casting will be present again along with the rest of the Fly Fishers International crew for casting demonstrations and fly fishing instruction. At the booth inside the show hall, FFI members will be present to help teach beginners about knots and bugs. There is a great line up of casting presentations each day; please see www.flyfishingrendezvous.com for a list of presentations.
Create your own event: I love teaching groups! Put together a presentation or clinic for your group! It can be a fishing group or a group of interested people that don't fish yet! I can help you tailor instruction to your group's needs. Contact email@example.com
30 with 3 lesson packages: : I am now offering 3 one hour lesson packages for $150---a $30 savings. This will make a great gift for someone, including yourself! Times and location will be scheduled individually.
Fly Casting Fundamentals Class: : Six one hour lessons comprise this class designed to help the caster achieve at least Bronze level fly casting skills as outlined in the FFI Fly Casting Skills Challenge. This can be done on an individual basis or in a small group. Contact me for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is $300, the same as for 5 lessons, which is a $60 savings. Great for beginners, novices or those just trying to improve their skills!
Video Casting Analysis: If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth far more. You will see things you had no idea were occurring with your casting motion and learn how to correct them. Define and rid yourself of bad habits! Clients will be given practice methods to improve their cast. The minimum time needed for this is 90 minutes and the cost is $80.
Casting Instructor Certification: Instructor certification from the FFI is an accomplishment that will help you become a better instructor as well as caster. Let me help you understand the expectations of the exam and become a better caster and teacher! I mentor exam candidates and administer exams, so I understand the tests and what it takes to pass. Most importantly, it will help you be the best teacher you can be in all phases of fly fishing.
Power application: The Holy Grail of Fly Casting
Power application, or how we move the fly rod during the casting stroke, is the most important skill in fly casting and also one of the hardest to understand and train. It's hard to write about--- words cannot convey the feeling well. Two decades ago application of power and indeed fly casting were not well understood. Theories, rumors and myths abounded. Style was confused with substance. Fortunately, a small group of bright people researched the cast and separated substance from style.
Why bother, you might be wondering; I get my fly out there, don't I? Really? Do you hit the target the first time? Are there likely spots you pass by because they are difficult? Other problems like tailing loops, wind knots, missed targets, leaders that land in a pile and trouble with wind all may be from power application issues.
Research revealed that the best casters all had casting strokes with a constant, smooth acceleration rate followed by an abrupt stop. Please note I didn't write constant speed or just acceleration. I wrote constant rate of acceleration or constant rate of increase of speed. It's easier to say smooth or constant acceleration, so those are the words used.
Now you've read two paragraphs and are waiting for me to tell you "how to!" Be forewarned that you must practice application of power---you can't just read about it. If you only practice when you go fishing, you won't have a very steep learning curve. First, an analogy: the string and the cinder block. If one pulls abruptly on a string attached to a cinder block you will likely break the string. If one starts pulling slowly at first and smoothly applies more force, the block will move. As the force is smoothly increased, the block will move faster or accelerate. This is the kind of power application one needs!
The same must be done with the fly rod, although the string and the block are one and the same in the form of the fly line. Unfortunately, today's fast action rods actually hinder our ability to experience smooth acceleration. So, if you are having trouble getting the feel of steady, constant or smooth acceleration, over line your rod! If you have a 5 weight, buy or borrow a 7 weight line and do the drills below. In other words, simply over line the rod by 2 weights, and, no, you won't break or harm the rod! Strip out 35 ft. of line/leader, foot to fly (26 ft. of line/leader plus 9 ft. of fly rod). Using a horizontal rod (sidearm), drag the line through an appropriately sized casting arc (about 60 degrees in for this length of line) to an abrupt stop. The goal is to form a 2-4 ft. loop with the leader straightening completely. Watch the loop straighten completely and fall; it should land relatively straight. If done with a line weight 1-2 weights higher than recommended, one will feel a progressive bend occurring in the rod when power has been applied smoothly, a hallmark of good power application. When not applied smoothly, it won't feel like you are progressively bending the rod, but rather like the rod "gave," or bent too deep and the rebounded partially straight. A tailing loop may result where the top leg dips down and crosses the bottom leg, often causing a tangle. If underpowered the loop simply won't straighten. The second drill is to false cast horizontal at first, then in any plane. This develops the same power application skills and adds a sense of timing. Repeated false casting is a great practice technique to get the "feel" of the cast and develop consistency in power application. (Beware: repeated false casting is a poor fishing technique!) Watch your loops. Each loop, front and back, tells you about the cast that created it. Your goal is a loop that is 4 ft. or less top to bottom leg with a relatively straight top leg.
The only way this brief article will help you is if you get out there and practice. Even experienced fly fishers have benefitted from these drills. Video casting analysis (which I offer) is often helpful in visualizing and correction. Over lining the rod is a method commonly employed by casting instructors, especially with fast action rods. It simply loads the rod deeper and allows the caster to feel the result of good and poor power application. It forces the caster to be smooth for good loop formation.
Please let me know if any questions about this important topic. Poor power application is one of the two most common mistakes encountered with clients. It causes poor loop formation, tailing loops, trouble with distance and inaccuracy. It can be fixed, but only if you know it's a problem and are willing to practice. Obtaining good power application technique is a foundation skill and will improve all of your fly casting!
ASK THE INSTRUCTOR
I respond to this question with my own question: Why do you ask? The client's response is usually something about the rod adversely affecting the cast. In that setting, my answer is nearly always no. There are almost no bad fly rods out there, simply rods with different actions brought out by different designers. You can't buy a better cast. Granted, there are extremes of action that I will discuss briefly that make things more challenging, but often it's best to learn on what you have.
The extremes of action I refer to are very fast action (think stiff) and very slow action (think soft) rods. Both of these extremes can make casting more challenging to learn and refine. I have worked with clients where we underlined slow action rods and overlined fast action rods so that they could get a feel for the cast and rod bend or load.
A second response I hear is "my friend told me my fly rod sucks." Some friend! The "friend" clearly doesn't like the rod, but his/her preference means nothing relative to the owner's preference. Also, the "friend" has led the person to believe they can't succeed with the equipment they have, which is almost never true! The client will make some pretty nice casts and catch fish once they learn appropriate technique. You can't buy a better cast, but you can learn better technique!
A third response is "But, I want a new rod!" There is a fine line between need and want that I personally walk every day! If you just want a new rod no matter what, I am powerless to stop you. If, however, you want a new rod because you think it will cast better, we're really back to the above paragraph. If you want a new rod to fish for a different species (bass) or with different tackle (sink tips), spend a little time researching this and talking to people that do those things to get their recommendations. You can't buy a better cast, but you can learn better techniques, as well as understanding appropriate techniques and tackle to do what you want. But you have to know what you want!
My friend told me my casting sucks!
This cry for help came from a friend, it made me a little angry. I taught her most of what she knows about casting. (No, I'm not the one that said her casting sucked!) Again I say: some friend! Further exploration told me that "friend" had no particular expertise or credential in terms of casting or fishing. Furthermore, this "friend" did not identify an error to correct or how to correct it. I watched her cast and immediately noted that her casting didn't "suck", but could use a few changes which were pointed out and achieved. Bad habits had crept in to what was otherwise a natural flow to her cast. Further questioning told me she had developed some of these casting in the wind on alpine lakes. We discussed strategies for dealing with the wind. Besides illustrating what happens during a lesson with me, I want the reader to understand that error identification and correction is important and can be done constructively. Also, pointing out someone's faults without offering a solution (even if it's just "I'm not sure what to do, but maybe someone else could help") is not what friends do. (I'll get off my soapbox now!)