Boring Poetry

a brilliant article  from Aitor Coteron addressing a rather big issue contemporary casting instructors are experiencing. needless to say, i couldn’t agree more.

” The late Mel Krieger classified casters in two broad groups: “engineers” and “poets”. The first group needs to know how things work in order to learn them; the other one relies more on feeling and doing those things than in any analytical approach.

Mel didn’t make any qualitative distinction between the two groups; although he himself was a “poet” instructor I think that he never dismissed those more inclined to the engineering way of seeing things. In fact he saw both views as equally valuable and complementary.
When in the recent history of flycasting instruction this has changed I don’t know for sure, but currently those who claim themselves as “poets” like to dismiss on a regular basis those of the “engineer” class.

To be honest I am able to differentiate very easily those instructors of the “engineer” kind: they just can explain, when necessary, casting issues by means of applied physics.
I have a hardest time, however, when it comes to distinguish those who consider themselves “poets”. Of course you find them using examples and similes to explain casting mechanics, but I don’t see why being an “engineer” prevents you from doing the same. There is, however, one key trait that makes “poets” as noticeable as a priest on top of a mound of lime: they proudly declare that concepts like “inertia” or “acceleration” are utterly unintelligible, whereas you can find tongue twisters like “kinaesthetic” appearing frequently in their conversation. “

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23 thoughts on “Boring Poetry

  1. Hi,

    good one. But I don’t think there are any conflict at all between “real poets” and the “real scientists” in their quest of understanding fly casting. There is however a conflict between “magicians” and scientists or engineers. Simply because, unlike poets, the magicians want to keep their wizardry and tricks to himself in order to press others down…

    Probably a good topic for a SL thread 😉

    Just my 2cents

    • Hi Grunde,

      Good points. Good “poets” and good “engineers” actually complement each other. The problem is that both are very scarce.

      • Hi Aitor,

        I think we agree. My point is that understanding why the sunset is red doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Maybe less magic, but not less beautiful…

        To me fly casting is both poetry and physics, and I also like cane rods 😉

  2. In writing, one can not wax poetic without at least a basic understanding of the mechanics of language, just as my “poetic” casting style has no chance at all if I don’t understand (at least a little bit) the mechanics and relationships of hand, eye, rod, and line. I also suspect the “engineer”-types find a few moments of their own unadulterated poetic bliss once in a while; they just express it in different terms.

    I reserve the right to make fun of both types.

  3. nice comments Gents, thanks !
    as always it’s the extremes that are bad for a community.
    i do have to admit that it’s not just the poets that can be a pain in the arse. turning certain casting threads that were meant as ‘general public’ (not the castanalysis section) into graphs and charts “i’m right, you’re wrong” head banging, is a definite turn off to a lot of us but even more so for those who aren’t in the instructor world. look how semi-dead the Board has become… 😦
    i’m anxious to see if there are any rebuttals on the SL thread. :mrgreen:

    ps- i’ll stick to Quill’s last comment too 😎

  4. me think its the inclination of the poetry state of mind rather than the engineering state of mind that feeds the excitement of the FF keep going endlessly, once the ‘engineer’ defines ‘how the things are made’ you’re done, there is no more room for excitement left from the exploration, nothing more to explore, but the magic ‘poetry’ moment of just being on the river is always with you, its the poetry, the myth and sometimes even mystiqiue that attracts stronger to FF not the technical side of things.:-)

  5. hey Alex !
    i personally can’t agree with “you’re done, there is no more room for excitement left from the exploration, nothing more to explore” because that implies taking someone else’s ideas for granted and excluding one’s own personal creativity.
    yes, we have basic accepted casting elements but if we rearrange those elements we can devise solutions to our fishing needs and enjoyment and there’s hardly any limits there. 😎

  6. i agree with your last sentence Marc, as for the rest Im the last person on Earth who will advocate blind following of someone else’s ideas:)

  7. yep, but i take it into a broader sense as to me anyone who want to know how to cast has some engineering state of mind inclination , the rest of us being the poets not too bothered with their casting – good , bad or whatever , just happy to be on the river flyfishing. I have fun even when i catch the tree on the far bank after some bad cast:) in fact the same goes true with the fly tying techniques thats why i dont read any casting or tying related stuff – you dont need to know how to cast or how to tie flies to catch fish in fly fishing – you just do it – and i know plenty of good
    fly casters and good fly tiers that are not good in catching fish

    • i knew this agreeing stuff wouldn’t last long ! :mrgreen:
      Alex, you’re turning ‘poets’ into a bunch of lazy-assed and brained willful ignorants ! 😕
      outside of the obvious ‘one who writes poetry’, the definition of ‘poets’ is
      ‘A person possessing powers of imagination or expression’ and a good ‘engineer’ will need those qualities too.
      this doesn’t apply to a few SL members though, that’s why they’re not good engineers. they have become negative examples but these things are about to change.
      imagination is one of the key elements of intelligence and if we bring this to the FF world, we can associate this imagination to adapting to the situations of the moment, something even the dumbest ‘poet’ does all the time…

  8. Hi Alex,
    “yep, but i take it into a broader sense as to me anyone who want to know how to cast has some engineering state of mind inclination , the rest of us being the poets not too bothered with their casting – good , bad or whatever…”
    That was exactly my point in one of the last paragraphs of the Sexyloops Front Page.

    By the way, I also know of bad casters that are absolutely terrible at catching fish:)
    Better to have as much resources available as possible.

  9. Hi Aitor,

    i think you made a valid points in your FP and yes, there are bad casters that are no good at catching fish:) my point is that there is more important stuff to learn in order to fish well – first knowing your water, which comes with a lot of meaningful experience, watercraft , etc, and than comes perfection in fly casting and fly tying or at least these are my priorities.

    Marc, i have no doubt in my mind that the agreeing stuff wont last ,but i have to agree with you again:) that the imagination is the core of intelligence and fly fishing as an intelligent pass time, but than again NO – im not advocating ignorance and laziness:) just im pointing to other direction where the fly fishing efforts should be concentrated:)

    • should be ?! one could easily combine those elements, it’s called multi-tasking. it’s like walking and chewing bubble gum at the same time. most people don’t have a problem doing both and doing both well… 🙄

  10. what im saying is that a mediocre fly caster / fly tier will catch fish well knowing the water, the fish, understanding the watercraft while an excellent caster / tier with no good knowledge of the water, the fish and mediocre watercraft will not fish well. I remember Mike Lawson describing in his book a day fishing with the young Steve Rajeff. Mike spotted the exceptional casts that Steve was able to deliver , but it took him a whole week to start learning to hook some fish on a hard water like Henrys Fork.:)

    • geez, Alex. who wants to be mediocre ?
      it seems pretty counter-productive to take all the time and effort into knowing the water and the fish without also including learning how to cast to the fish in the best manner possible and presenting the right flies, but to each their own…

  11. The funny thing is that I have never seen a fly tier showing his work being addressed by someone saying: very nice flies but they are useless if you don’t know how to fish. However that is very common when a caster shows some casting skills.

    So it took Steve only a week to get the watercraft needed to fish the Henry’s Fork? I have been fishing the Railroad Ranch twice: you can rest assured that you’ll need way more than a week to get the necessary casting skills to fish it. 🙂

  12. Many of the perfectionist fly tiers I know are aware of the fact that most of the fancy flies are meant to pleased the anglers and not for the fish , so whats the point to discuss the practical value of their flies? And of course there are some that like to believe otherwise,but many years ago the majority of the people believed that the Earth is flat also. 🙂

    I havent been fortunate to fish Henrys Fork so far, but Im sure it will take much more than the perfect casting skills to catch fish. Yep, Steve was incredibly lucky to have Mike as a guide 🙂

  13. Marc,

    it all depends where you fish, some waters are more demanding than others, not only in terms of casting skills, but in fishing terms. Well, probably no one want to be mediocre, but in my view most of us could only reach to the level of acceptable mediocrity and because it is only fishing we still have fun 🙂

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