Craig’s Bottle Rockets

here’s a super-cool, fun and very effective fly casting exercise from Craig Buckbee

Have you ever thrown apples off the end of stick? well, neither have i, at least not until i started taking this fly casting thing seriously something like ten years ago. my childhood toys involved rocks, wrist-rocket slingshots, BB guns, bows & arrows and various types of fishing rods. all projectile-throwing activities but the apple on a stick thing just seemed a bit too Tom Sawyerish to even be considered at the time because it didn’t seem like a cool thing to do. looking back on it now, neglecting the apple thing might be why i struggled for so long getting my fly lines to do what i told them to do. who knows…

ready to start launching ? you’ll need rockets like these
bottle rocket 1
and they’ll be attached to your launcher like this
bottle rocket 2(snow is optional)

“At first, don’t think (or worry… ) about Casting the bottle – just place it over the end of the rod and simply throw it to an area out in front of you – not too far. Then, as you get warmed up, throw it a bit further . Don’t think about Smooth Acceleration or a Crisp Stop – just throw the damn thing out there.

Next step: Start to Think. Taking a cue from this, ease into the Key Position, the Ready Position: the starting place for the forward cast, where your arm and body should be to begin the stroke. Then, with your hand + arm easing forward and down, pick up speed – smoothly – as you drop your elbow. When your rod hand arrives inline with your view to the target allow (not force ! ) your wrist to hinge forward… just a bit”

this is really good stuff and definitely one to do with your little ones. i’m firmly convinced that the best way to learn or improve fly casting is through games and here’s definitely one to add to the list.

for the rest of Craig’s very comprehensive article click either pic or here, enjoy !

Fly Fishing History- The Dry Fly

via Dr. Andrew N Herd’s great A FlyFishing History

“The first mention of the dry fly in print is in the issue of The Field dated December 17th 1853. In an article by-lined “The Hampshire Fly Fisher” the writer says: “On the other hand, as far as fly fishing is concerned, fishing upstream, unless you are trying the Carshalton dodge and fishing with a dry fly, is very awkward.” Dry fly patterns certainly became commercially available around this time; the firm of Foster’s of Cheltenham selling dry flies with upright split wings as early as 1854. It is, however, unclear who actually developed the first dry fly, if any one man can be said to be the inventor. James Ogden, another Cheltenham tackle dealer, claimed to have been the first to use a dry fly, stating that he used dry patterns during the 1840’s.”

drymay

ok, it doesn’t take a brainiac to figure out that in order to catch surface feeding fish one needs to make a surface imitation however, this is where the whole journey becomes really interesting:

“One reason why the dry fly took so long to catch on was that it wasn’t very easy to fish it. The dry fly of the 1880’s had several glaring deficiencies. When cast, traditional dry flies frequently landed on their sides, or even upside down. Another problem was that the that flies became waterlogged and sank, often in fairly short order. Again, flies were most often tied to gut, which not only made bodies bulky but positively encouraged them to sink, a process which was speeded up by the tendency of silk lines to become waterlogged.

Another key development was the acceptance of the single-handed split-cane trout rod. The 1850s marked the beginning of the end of long double-handed trout rods, although they didn’t  totally fall from favour for at least another forty years. Apart from their length, the worst fault of these early and mid-nineteenth century rods was their excessive pliability. Six strip split-cane fly rods, which were stiff enough to false-cast a dry fly repeatedly, didn’t become cheap enough for general use until the 1880’s.

The term ‘false-casting’ wasn’t adopted immediately, although the technique was widely practised, and for many years after its invention, the process of drying a fly by false-casting was known as ‘spreading.’ The technique led to the development of stiffer rods with pliant tops that could generate the line speed necessary to perform the manoeuvre and had a far-reaching effect on the design of dry-fly rods. These were pioneering days, and one school of thought held that in the absence of paraffin flotants, it was necessary to ‘crack’ the fly at the end of every false-cast in order to dry it properly, a method known as ‘flicking’.” and very probably leading to several un-gentelmanly comments muttered under their breath…

fascinating indeed when we see that the creation of the dry fly was the roots that basically conditioned everything we can still consider to be contemporary fly fishing.

this is special. for the complete article click HERE. enjoy !

fly casting- The Ropin’ Fool and the Lasso of Truth

i often get comments to the effect of how passionate about fly casting i can be. just to be word-picky i’d say i’m passionate about sharing my enthusiasm of it with others and this whole casting business is more of an obsession… but ! i think i’ve finally been able to pinpoint how this started and its all thanks to these two lovely people and this happened a long time ago when i was just a little boy.
interestingly enough it doesn’t have much to do with fishing.

first off, Will ‘The Ropin’ Fool’ Rogers.
cowboy trick-dude and line-slinger extraordinair who filled me with awe during those long rainy saturday afternoon rerun stints on channel 20. my fondest and most concrete memory being Will sitting at a table, seeing a mouse peep its head through the mouse hole, grabbing a string-like rope, tying the noose and catching the little mouse in what all seemed like one smooth and expertly executed motion. awesome !
i haven’t been able to find the exact film clip to share with you (if my memory of this is indeed correct) but the one below is pretty darn close.

as i grew older my focus on cowboys shifted a little as these things tend to do during adolescence but the lasso was still there.

enter Linda Carter and her mighty Lasso of Truth !

finally, there’s something about a line flying through the air that’s just, well… incomparable to anything else.

tumblr_lnqedvRvJ71qh9e7ho1_500

even if there isn’t any mention of lassos you’ll find a semi-comprehensive and passionate compendium of fly casting related articles HERE. enjoy !

fun and games

a little bent-over from my recent trip last June in Malaysia.  following our casting demos where a whole slew of casting games to keep the attendees entertained while waiting out the thunderstorm.
this one’s rules where easy: feet behind the first plate, curve the line around the blue basket and place the yarn leader tip on the plate to the right in three tries.
just as in real-life fishing, nobody told me i had stand up. we do what we have to to try to get the job done…

marc-fauvet-limpcobra-sabah-flyfishing-fair_140530_0021

image via Juan Wei and SportFishin.Asia

Fly Casting- What does a Tailing Loop look like ?

upon seeing this image on a casting discussion board recently i instantly replied “that’s not a tailing loop !”, further reminding me of just how many people have a false impression of what a TL looks like.
cast_looptypes
all of these images where easily found on the net, have been displayed on sites and forums and seem to be eagerly accepted by a large percentage of those posting and viewing them.
my point here isn’t to go into the causes of tailing loops but of identifying them because to work on a casting problem first requires properly identifying what needs to be worked on before doing anything about it.
Unknownfigure15

more examples by different sources but basically the same as above.

pic1this one’s getting there, could be considered a ‘tailing tendency’ because of the slight dip of the fly leg but most probably won’t lead to any problem. it does however get a few bonus points for having nice background colours.tailingon this one they managed to draw/put the tail on the rod leg !
most definitely a first as a TLs happen on the fly leg of the line…

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now, before explaining why those aren’t tails and why they’re not half as bad as some might have us think lets have a look at some real ones: the really bad nasty ones.
unlike the ones above, tailing loops with a big dip in the fly leg that like to collide with the rod leg and really mess up our cast, scare fish, make friends laugh and sometimes make knots in our leaders. tailing loops can serve no good or creative purpose. they are faults. this is what they look like.

with great help from Bruce Richards, first up are two graphic overlays taken from the video with easily understandable ‘rod tip path throughout the stroke, line path and post-stroke rod tip rebound’ colour separations to help us see what’s happening in real, not something born of imagination.

TailingLoop 1 Bruce RichardsTailingLoop 2 Bruce Richards

what we’ll notice right away compared to the previous images is that the dip in the fly leg crosses the rod leg twice. the dip in the line is there since the rod tip dipped and came back up during the stroke and this dip propagates down the line as it unrolls. the line and leader unrolls poorly and if the unrolling dip is too close to the rod leg there’s collision making bad worse.
some casting-geek colleagues might disagree with the crossing twice part as a for-sure sign of of a TL and indeed, line collision is the real nasty and isn’t dependant of how many times the line legs cross themselves however, my point here isn’t to go into minute subtleties or go against their way of thinking but to help out casters of all levels to differentiate between crossed loops and tailing loops. they’re different beasts.

i won’t go so far as to say that the first images demonstrate ‘ideal’ casting form (whatever that is) but even if some of the drawing authors bothered to include a concave path of the rod tip during the stroke hinting to what is ultimately the cause of real tails, ultimately, what we’re seeing in the drawn line paths are crossed loops and crossed loops are not a fault as long as the line legs don’t collide.

its not very common to see all-in-one-plane candy cane loops, specially with longer lengths of line carried.
crossed loops constitute about 99% (that’s just a guess but the percentage is very high) of all casts from casters of all levels, irregardless of casting school styles, casting overhead or off to the side.

crossed loops are an obvious necessity for all roll and Spey casts, many non-linear presentation casts or simply to cast out of plane to not risk banging ourselves in the back of the head with a heavy Clouser.
the Gebetsroither-Austrian-Belgian-Italian, Kreh, saltwater and almost every style of casting is based on casting in two planes and the result is a crossed loop. to put it another way, on a global level its the norm.

hopefully these few words will be of help, specially to those that might be worried because they’re not casting perfect candy-cane shaped loops.
unless you’re doing big nasty Bruce-Type tails you’re probably not doing so badly after all…

Fly Casting Accuracy with Simon Zarifeh

Simon is a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Master Casting Instructor from Australia and a fine example of the high quality of fly casting instruction from that part of the world.

i’m very much in tune with his approach, in fact i’ve been working on several articles that incorporate most of what we’ll see below but in the meantime… highlighted here are the key points of the presentation you’ll want to focus on.

- Precise Focusing – simply put, we can’t place our flies precisely if we’re not visually and mentally focussing on a specific and well defined spot.
Dominant Eye Detection – common to all types of shooting activities, dominant eye detection is basically unheard of in the fly casting world. do this simple test, it just might change your life.
Stance, the Triangle – i’d never considered envisioning the stance as a triangle but it makes perfect sense and am super glad to have learned this here. to add to Simon’s explanation, this stance combined with a little SRB prepare our bodies for supple and relaxed casting.
Head Position – what came to mind when listening to this part was a medical study i read years ago on the main cause of motorcycle crashes. these where wipe-out-in-turns crashes caused by the rider themselves, not collisions with cars etc and they where all related to over-tilting the head. basically, tilt your head and you loose or at least weaken distance and three-dimensional perception. thank goodness we don’t suffer from broken bones, road rashes and death when we fly cast but its still something to think about.
Pick a Target - this comes back to Precision Focusing but the trick here is to learn to focus away from the fish target and create a fly target, often where there really isn’t anything concrete to focus on. that’s the trick !
180° and Narrow Loop - back to The Five Essentials. they’re always there…
Elbow Movement - the elbow needs to go up on the back cast and come down on the front cast. elbow, rod hand, rod tip and loop all in the same plane. this is an integral part of Jason Borger’s ‘Foundation Casting Stroke’ and was probably the first thing i picked up and worked on when i started taking fly casting seriously. this makes casting, specially short and typical fishing distances easy, precise and repeatable.

this is really-really good stuff i hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from.
there’s a little something in it for everyone.

Fly Casting Instructor Demo – Sabah, Malaysia

amazing the things one finds when trolling the net !
this morning, while watching a fly fishing video i saw my name on the youtube sidebar and of course opened the page. the funny thing is, i didn’t even know this video existed ! but what a nice surprise as it brought back fond memories of a fantastic trip among some of the finest and talented people i’ve ever met.

just to set the context: saturday morning in the deepest-darkest Malaysian jungle. it had been and continued raining hard as it so often happens in rain forests so we decided to do our demo day indoors at the lodge safely protected from the elements with the coffee machine close to hand. most of the attendants where certified casting instructors, all from various countries in Asia or Australia. i thought i might share a few teaching methods i’ve picked up along the way as i was fairly certain my instructor colleagues weren’t too familiar with these techniques.

my demo being mostly based on Lee Cumming‘s ‘Triangle Method and Joan Wulff‘s ‘Circles, Eights and Straights’ exercises geared towards beginner fly fishers/casters with a few extras thrown in for good measure.
having Peter Hayse participate and give feedback during the demo was an honour and a real treat. after my bit is more of Peter’s wisdom followed by a great exercise by Tomonori ‘Bill’ Higashi.

finally, from beginner to instructor the following should have a little something for everyone. i hope you’ll enjoy !