Fly Casting- have Fronton, will cast.

Fronton rod m.fauvet-TLC 23-2-15last weekend was spent in the Basque region of Navarra, Spain with friend, casting instructor colleague and someone i could consider to be my mentor in these fly casting shenanigans, Carlos Azpilicueta.
the weather couldn’t have been any worse (well, technically it could have been much-much worse) but trying to figure out some intricate casting stuff while there’s very strong wind gusts, rain mixed with slush snow and the consequent quite low temperatures that make slush snow while having fun and working on casting repeatability just doesn’t do it. having the option of hanging out at the local café and just talking about it was the first plan but all of a sudden an indoor fronton appeared out of the sky giving us the opportunity to do some actual swishing and slinging instead of blowing hot air and getting the jitters from too much coffee.
when i was living in Sweden i had had numerous casting sessions in the enormous indoors sports arenas that are in just about every town or city. the biggest i saw was able to have four simultaneous full-sized football/soccer games going on at the same time. that’s big. way too big.
our little fronton/basketball/multi-sport complex was a much more intimate affair, just perfect for anything except for the long-longest competion-style distance casts. i couldn’t care less about comp-style distance casts anyway so this was a real treat on several accounts:
– not being able to cast far forces one to cast at closer distances. i know, that’s an obvious ‘duh… ‘ but ! take some casting geeks to a big field and nine out ten times they’ll instantly peel all the line off their reels and try to cast it all and even if generally speaking, distance casting makes for better overall casting, that isn’t the complete picture.
– although we may bring our own cones, hoops, measuring tapes, golf balls or whatever to a field, we tend to place them, work on a few casts and challenges/games but there’s a horizon and that horizon always seems to beckon that full line again and we’re back to square one.
– this fronton, apart from being indoors protecting us from all the weathery crap had two distinctive features that made it all the more special and productive and they where both on the floor. first, the surface was incredibly slick (not slippery as in sliding and falling over when moving about but in the sense that the fly line had much less grip than field or artificial grass might give). this made for a perfect manner to study, observe and demonstrate the effects of the anchor for roll casts and Speys by effectively removing the anchor from the equation while still getting good casts. not only that but it was yet another perfect way to demonstrate and disprove the too often common notion, that the anchor loads the rod. (it doesn’t because it can’t. more on that in another post)

– the other and real eye-openning feature to this super-slick floor was that we could execute and demonstrate all sorts of casts on the floor itself similar to what several colleagues such as Aitor Coteron and Lasse Karlsson have been demonstrating with bead chains to great effect but this time, with real fly casting equipment: a rod, line and leader/fluff combination.
to be perfectly clear, i have the highest respect and gratitude for all the work my friends have done with bead chains and they’ve contributed enormously to the contemporary understanding of fly casting but there’s always been something missing, something always nagging me in the back of the mind and that mostly has to do with tapers or, different weight distributions along the whole fly line/leader/fly system. bead chains have a continuous mass and profile from one end to the other whereas our lines, leaders and flies don’t. in a nutshell, tapers make fly casting easy(er), predictable and get the job done. anyway, in my opinion the slick floor and real kit can only make any experiment or demonstration a bit more realistic. if nothing else, we’re using equipment that any fly fisher can really relate to and not something that seems to always get in the way when we’re trying to brush our teeth.

different loop shapes; tight, open, loop-fronts rounded or pointy, big uncontrolled loops and tailing loops where a breeze to execute and we could show them all in a slower-than-normal fashion making for an easier way to study them. if we underpowered the cast the loop would not completely turn over but retain the loop’s shape giving us a real-time casting drawing or video pause effect as if they where suspended in mid air. very cool.
we can’t do any of that or rather, lets say that its a lot more difficult to get the same results on grass because grass grabs the line, curves it out of shape because its irregular and nowheres near as smooth as this deluxe surface.
the darkish floor made for increased contrast with the bright orange lines making this all one of the best visual experiences i’ve ever seen or can imagine. i tried to film some of these casts but although it looked really cool to the naked eye, the low camera angle from head height didn’t do this justice. i’ll be back with a tall ladder next time to film them from above. can’t wait !

i’m fully aware at how geek this must sound but for someone like myself, this is extremely exiting stuff. its like several doors and windows opened and let in the light. of course, i want to learn more and more for myself because i crave this casting-geek stuff but a lot of those windows and doors that opened up will help my students see a bit more light as well because in the end, its all about sharing.

if we manage to not get distracted by unexpected phallic shapes, all these lines, lanes and curves open up a lot of casting-challenge possibilities. the mind’s the limit.
Fronton Floor 1 m.fauvet-TLC 23-2-15
trying to control a weighted and very air-resistant fluff-puff with a standard 6wt ‘trout-sized’ rod/line/small-fly leader: i’d say he’s damned good at it. of maybe more interest than casting overweighted fluff, we’ll notice how overall supple and fluid Carlos is when he casts. this makes for super-smooth casting that’s a real necessity with this kind of challenge but also translates to silky-suave-smoothness and line control when casting a normal fly. awesome !

and just another of the myriad game possibilities; keeping the fly line and leader on top of the white line. well, almost…fronton 3 m.fauvet-TLC 23-2-15

Single Hand Spey Casting- An Enlightening video

always on the research to find quality, inspiring casting videos to share here sometimes leads to real gems that don’t fit the quality and inspiring criteria at all and this one might be the gemmiest of them all.
i can’t decide whether this guy’s a very good actor or… so, let’s just take it for what it is, something funny to watch and just in case it isn’t a joke, lets be sure to completely disregard anything said or demonstrated. enjoy !

Fly Casting Practice- Controlling Casting Stroke Force

experience tells me that apart from improper wrist control, the second most common difficulty many fly casters struggle with is force application throughout the stroke and to be more precise, they use too much force. way too much.

there are several ways to create tailing loops and they all have to do with the rod tip dipping below the standard straight or slightly convex tip path in one manner or another but i’m firmly convinced as well as many of my instructor colleagues that the main cause is improper, too early or too much force application and often both are combined.
leaving aside for the moment that rod rotation (where most of the force is applied and the rod tip is going its fastest) should be done at the end of the stroke, today’s casting drill tip is about force quantity and to understand the point of the topic i’ll ask you to consider these two questions:
1) how many times have you seen a fellow angler drive their fly into the water surface (when that wasn’t the intended presentation) or make tailing loops or have the fly kick back or hook to one angle or another before landing ?
2) how many times have you seen a fellow angler cast a pile at the end of the line when they wanted a straight presentation ?
i’ll be very generous with no. 2 and give it an approximate 10%. even if that approximation is just a roundabout figure its quite obvious that there’s an overall higher tendency leaning towards the ‘more than necessary/too much’.

now, there are two methods to adjust how much force is being used:
– the first is the standard ‘do your normal cast’ and try to apply less force until its all nice and smooth with super control.
this a subtractive method. it may work and there’s nothing wrong with it but its a hard way as its much more difficult to ‘hold back’ and ‘unlearn’ an engrained movement, specially when its something we’ve been doing for a long time.
– the other method consists of doing the exact opposite, practising to cast lines that don’t turn over completely and ‘relearning’ to add a little more force, just what’s necessary to get the job done as we go along.
this is an additive method. one that’s quite easy to control because adding-on seems to correspond better to human nature than subtracting; we tend to ‘want more’ as opposed to ‘want less’ and its a method that works very well for people of all levels in all the various types of fly casting whether it be close/middle/long range, stream to sea, little to big flies and single or double handed.

since years ago i had been working on an almost exactly the same presentation cast -the Dunkeld Dump- (named after the city in Scotland where i first demonstrated this cast to a group of fellow casting geeks) and of course using it a lot for river fishing but it was only last year that i realised what a gem this was as a practice routine on its own when friend, colleague and super-caster Aitor Coteron wrote this article that set off so many lightbulbs: To straighten or not to straighten. That is the question.

here’s a slightly different full-on angle of this drill from one of last year’s casting-geek meets in Spain.

to conclude, just as mentioned in the link, i highly recommend doing this exercise at every practise session, preferably at the beginning.
to add some variety and improve one’s force control while still working on accuracy, a great thing to do is place cones, tennis balls or whatever at different distances, even in a zig-zag formation and place the piles on the targets in sequence. dump and enjoy !

 

Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Adjusting the Loop size of a Perfection Knot

as a recap and to start off, here’s a reprint of an article on how to construct a Perfection Loop from a while back.

Tying the Perfection Loop

this loop is ‘perfect’ for loop-to-loop line-to-leader or leader-to-leader connections for anything but the biggest of fish. super easy to tie, the loop stays in line with the standing end of the monofilament and not ‘kinked’ to the side as with a Double or Triple Surgeon’s Knot. to be honest, i’m not sure it really makes any difference in leader/fly presentation to the fish but it does because i believe it does. offset kinks look messy !

i really like this video by Jim Thielemann. rarely found on any step-by-steps or diagrams is the trick we find here of passing the line around the thumb to create the second loop. this keeps the whole knot visible with the loops separated as opposed to pinching the ensemble together and then trying to pull the second loop through the first to finalize/tighten the knot. this also makes for a better control of the size of the final loop.

______________________________________________

now, for today’s great tip. mostly intended as a strong, quick and easy connection point between the tapered part of the leader and its tippet giving us the advantage of not having to continuously reduce the tapered part’s length as we change tippet, we’ll be creating the Perfection Loop exactly as in the video above but this time we’ll see how to easily reduce the final loop’s size, something that’s rather hard to do when using the ‘standard’ method.
we’ll notice that he uses a headphone jack plug to determine the loop size and to give us a bigger visual understanding of how to do this however, getting a very-very small loop size is the goal so, a largish sewing needle or safety pin helps get  the correct size. an added bonus is these pins are tapered and smooth and this helps slide the loop off.

alexisdepuis‘s video is in frog but don’t fret, the visuals are very clear. what we’ll want to pay special attention to is how the loop size is reduced/adjusted by pulling on the tag end before later seating the knot completely by pulling the standing line, just as in the ‘standard’ version. as with any knot, be sure to lube it up with gooey saliva before pulling anything tight and seating. in this case it would need to be applied before pulling the tag end.
to conclude, a common way of terminating the loop when doing this at home is to add a very small drop of glue and letting it completely dry before adding tippet. that’s not really a necessity but it can augment the ‘confidence factor’.
finally, these teeny-tiny loops aren’t appropriate for a loop-to-loop connection, we simply tie the tippet to the loop with our favourite knot as if it where a hook eye. enjoy !

Fly Tying- A new twist: The Burned Chenille Cased Caddis

before
pycnocentrodes_huia_rubymontage_b_650

and after
maxresdefault

there are many ways to create a caddis case, here’s just a few:
– the standard spun and trimmed or burned deer hair which looks pretty nice but doesn’t help the fly sink much as its a buoyant material (and i really don’t like doing this kind of stuff with deer hair. in fact, i don’t like tying with deer hair at all !)
– dubbing which is a lot more pleasanter to work with but never quite looks like a caddis case. (that probably doesn’t matter fishing-wise, its just not an appealing look and doesn’t strike that fly ‘confidence’ thingy; that all-important selection sense that dictates which fly to use)
– some even glue teeny-tiny stones to a support to form a very realistic case but that’s way too anal for this guy…

– and then, as we’ll see in the first minutes of the video, a technique that at first looks like a delirious joke that then transforms into the lovely tube-blob in the pic above and to make it all even better, this happens with our second favourite element: fire !

i just tried this method (just the case part), its super quick, about a minute to tie in and form the whole ‘body’ and very easy.
after that i tried a different method of melting on a second body by removing it from the vise and holding the hook with forceps leaving more room to work (melt) with. this helped to make the body more symmetric, specially the butt end near the vise jaws.
(an added bonus here is you won’t ruin or discolour the anodisation of your vise’s jaw)
second variant was to wet my fingers with gooey saliva to smooth out the body instead of using a needle. this works really well to get a quite perfect shape but you have to get your timing right or you end up with a cased finger combo !…

enough words, on to this great tutorial by Hammer Creek Fly Fishing.  enjoy !