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 Casting- The next Level ?

as the Advanced Fly Casting Demonstration title alludes to, is this advanced casting or not ? well, yes and no. let’s start with the no.

the no-casters will be quick to point out that all this fiddly-fancy rod waving is completely unnecessary; its just ‘trick casting’ to impress the peanut gallery which would probably scare off fish anyhow.
fine. assuming that the angler has decent control of their rod/line/leader/fly combo and can place the fly to the intended target with reasonable regularity, then that’s probably good enough for them. after all, a good chocolate cake doesn’t really need a scoop of ice cream or sauce to make the cake any better does it ?

well, i’m the kind that likes good ice cream and good sauce on good chocolate cake. they enhance the experience, offer a variety of tastes with the overall result of having a more complete dessert. ditto for fly casting.
now, i know very well that all this extra fiddly-fancy rod waving in itself isn’t going to lead to any more landed fish and to be honest, i’ll refrain from doing all this excessive stuff when actually fishing but !, its all going to make me a more efficient caster if i know how to do it at practice time plus, its a lot of fun and fun makes casting sessions a lot more productive than doing simple, basic movements over and over again.
but why ? casting as Klaus displays in the video needs a highly developed sense of spacial and temporal awareness and the ability to act/move very precisely on several planes in sequence with different rhythms and speeds all the while controlling varying degrees of slack in the line. in real-world situations, these capabilities allow the caster to improvise in real time, a little plus considering all the continually changing variables that happen when we fish.
this is hard-core multi-dimensional traverse wave casting and one that needs visualisation before and during the casts to not mess up ! very much akin to Zen-like activities, in a sense, movement needs to happen before thought or maybe more precisely, movements need to happen based on pre-visualisation and not a more ‘traditional’ step-by-step as-it-happens method. i don’t know if that makes sense but i can’t find a better way to describe it with words.

so, is this Advanced Fly Casting ? you bet ! but when/if acquired, we can consider it a hidden skill set that pops up when needed most, when situations get tricky and we still want to stay in the game while pleasing one’s self and not the peanut gallery. whether we chose or not to get to this level is a personal choice and most definitely non-necessary. at worst its eye candy but its a lovely candy that won’t make us fat like the ice cream, sauce and cake… enjoy !

Fly Casting- Dual personalities psychedelically hauled and non-hauled.

created a while back by some casting-tech geek on a casting-geek forum and slomoed and giffed for your over-and-over pleasure, this little film originally created by the Jason Borger – Grunde Lovoll duo at the Fly Casting Institute was made to show the casting stroke difference between a hauled and non-hauled cast and if i remember correctly,  the whole idea here was to show that contrary to popular notion, there wasn’t a whole lot more added rod bend to the hauled cast.
the guy in red is hauling, the same guy in green isn’t.  we’ll notice a remarked similarity between the two strokes but, as good as some casters may be and Mathias Lilleheim, the caster performing in the video is definiteley one of the more than good ones,  humans simply aren’t machines. our motion repeatability skills can’t compare to those of say a robot meaning that to this guy, its not a fair comparison and not something i would use to come to any conclusions.

so with that in mind, lets forget all about the tech stuff and get to the important:
even when its not overlayed and high-teched and whatnot, fly casting; watching a line fly back and forth through the air is not only a thing of beauty but its also a trippy thing. fancy colours or not, it’s psychedelic or rather, can expand consciousness in a rather mild and safe manner that doesn’t necessitate any imagination additives and this, whether we’re doing it ourselves or watching someone else. i’ve often had feedback to this effect by people who have never picked up a fly rod themselves or who have never watched anyone cast previously and its this last part that mostly explains why i feel what i feel when casting: a strange sensation of expansion that has nothing to do with the one happening at my waistline.

i do hope you’ll enjoy this little rod-weilding visual escapade. beyond the hauled – non-hauled aspect its exemplary casting and the flashing lights in the background well… make the whole thing all that more special.

Dual-Personality Psychedelics M.Fauvet:TLC

Fly Casting- Pussy Galore and thoughts on Presentation Cast Accuracy

just the other day, a student asked me a very interesting question (and the kind i love to hear !):
“How can we be dead-on accurate when doing slack-line presentation casts ?”
well, the simple answer is we can’t, or at least not with any predictable consistency the competent caster might have when casting straight-line presentations.

to further the simple answer, the reason we can’t be as consistent is that a line with slack in it isn’t under tension and therefore the caster isn’t completely in control of it no matter how experienced she/he might be.
the conundrum of this situation is:
– at all times we want to be as accurate as possible. if we can’t place the fly in a manner that will entice a fish we’re simply not fishing and if we do manage to hook up its just a matter of luck, not one based on our skills.
– including slack in our presentations, although not always necessary, is a fantastic way to catch a lot more fish. it’s that dead-drift thing with ummm, a turbo. sort of.
– any kind of wind from any direction severely compromises the outcome of any slack line presentation. the line/leader/fly gets pushed or pulled from the intended target.
– those are just a few examples but the sum of them mean we’re working in an unfavourable situation even if we have faith in our abilities.

however ! as bleak and hopeless as some of that may sound its really not hopeless at all, it just takes a little determination and maybe a lot of practice.
here’s an example filmed at least five years ago starring Pussy Galore !
a little info before the film.
– the idea here was to present the fluff in front of her cute little nose, upstream of the trout as it where.
– second goal was to try to entice her by using a ridiculously long, superfluous length of line to attempt this. once stretched out straight, the fluff might have fallen a bit short of the yellow ring in the background, that’s about twice the length from my feet to PG. i would never fish this way with so much slack mainly because its unproductive and pointless but the idea was to push the limits and see how much line control i could still manage even at this short range.

– out of nine casts, six where ‘probable’ takes (had that been a feeding fish and not some over-exherted cat that had been chasing fluff for the last hour), the others fell short or behind her head.
i used to do this kind of exercise all the time, basically every day. i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t get anywhere near six ‘probables’ today because i haven’t practiced this in a long time and that leads to the last part of the simple answer which connects to a saying i like to mindlessly repeat: practice doesn’t make perfect but it makes better, and this better and not perfection is the goal with real-fishing-situation presentation casts.
all we can do is assess the casting/fishing situation of the moment the best we can, adapt to it and put the fluff in front of PG’s cute little nose because we’ve worked a lot on our ca(s)ts while nevertheless accepting that the chances of success are reduced. besides, it make the catch that much more worthwhile and memorable when i works.