brainwashem’ young- Oscar

just in from papa Campbell:
“Our season opened yesterday. I took Oscar out for a couple hours today as he had been asking me to go fishing. We stocked up on cookies (and left them in the car) and hit a small stream. (We had planned to go to the Clyde, but you need a passport photo for an annual license and we didn’t have one….)
The fish were obliging, we had two on dries and three on numphs. We had another fall off. I think the picture I have attached of Oscar sums it all up pretty nicely.”

brainwashem young- Oscar TLC 17-3-14

it sure does, congrats little buddy  !

for a lot more kid’s smiles and the complete brainwashem’ young series click here


Mémé in french is an affectionate name for grandma. her real name was Catherine but that name was for others. outside of always telling goofy jokes and stories and being a fervent and fantastic cookie baker, one of the things i remember most about Mémé was she used to like to come fishing with me.
although the photo shows her with a fishing rod, she rarely actually fished, i remember taking the image to record the occurrence. what she mostly did was sit there and knit and point out what a pretty cloud that one was, how to hold the fish without poking it’s eyes out and look up with her quirky smile and announce, “Oh darn, we forgot the cookies” ! but i knew they where safely hidden in the yarn bag.
i remember bringing this photo to school as part of the ‘What did you do during your summer vacation ?’ report we always had to do each year.

that year my family had rented a cabin on some lake in Wisconsin. the highlight of the trip, my mom being bit on the butt by a pike my dad had caught and thrown in the boat while she was sun bathing. as most fish do in this situation, it started flip-flopping unhappily about and i can only guess that the bite impulse came alive when it saw this soft pink thing in front of it’s mouth. i can’t blame it as i probably would have done the same.

Oliver Edwards demonstrates the Snap Roll Cast

part one of what’s going to be an ongoing series on the Roll Cast, it’s uses, what, how, why, when, debunking myths and etc and etc and etc, here’s Oliver Edwards demonstrating the Roll Cast pick-up or Snap as he calls it for fishing small streams and rivers. we’ll see later how this exact same method can be used just about anywhere.

most often described as a way to cast when there is little or no backcast space, i’ll be explaining the many other uses of the Roll Cast and if i manage to get some of those ideas across while suggesting how it’s a marvelous tool for just about any fishing situation from the high altitude to open sea, we’ll see that the idea of it being just for no-backcast room situations is really reductionist and that we might be missing out on something really useful yet very easy to do.

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.

turn around !

“You can’t feel, hear, smell or taste the quality of your back cast but you can see what happens.”

today’s quote by Bernd Ziesche

an old saying in casting instruction is “The quality of the front cast is conditioned by the quality of the back cast”. the back cast is 50% of a full casting cycle which means it’s just as important as the front cast. the back cast is also something that as far as i can find out, and i’ve been searching for several years, is the only activity where we throw something behind us. our physiology and activities are based on what’s in front of us and we do that very well. however, since we’re not used to throwing behind, this is an area we want to work on using what we have. luckily, that what is probably our strongest sense, the sense we rely on the most, vision.
so, as Bernd so perfectly explains, if we want to improve our casting we need to know what’s going on behind us and the solution is as simple as learning to turn the head around to watch what’s going on but maybe more importantly, to confirm or not what we think is going on and thereon we can adjust what needs to be adjusted.

in case you’re thinking, “wait a minute, am I supposed to turn around all the time ? when i’m casting just a few meters ?” the answer is: obviously not.
just as when we start off fly casting and learn to do a straight line cast (and learn to no more do straight line casts just as soon as we learned how to do them !) this is a foundation exercise and these exercises are meant to build up our capabilities and senses and here’s the paradox: we want to develop the exact same senses Bernd said we couldn’t use !  this new learning and exercise needs a little time and regular practice. don’t practice it while fishing as it’s almost always counter-productive to practice and do the activity at the same time as we do neither well.

as for the pic, yup it’s me and yup it says FF&W, Jason Borger’s site Fish, Flies & Water but more on that later !

Veni, Vidi and not really Vici

i went to the Salon de la Mouche Artificielle in Saint-Etienne last weekend, the biggest fly fish only fair in France and i’ll have to say right away that it wasn’t all that interesting. however i did have a really nice encounter with a small group of people. over by the casting stand, having just had a rod that i was trying out literally taken out of my hands for the SECOND time from a sales person (the number will eventually get to four… ),  i turned around scanning the fair to see who’s rods and lines i could try out next.

the place was crowded, an incessant white noise background filled the ears but all of a sudden on the casting ground i heard people behind me shout-grunting and making slapping sounds in a very expressive and strange manner.

hot-blooded foreigners ? early morning drunks ? onlookers gagging from having one of these non-loop casters tangle their line around someone’s neck ?

well no, not at all. as i turned all i saw was three friends that just happened to be hearing and speech impaired, two of them who were already familiar with the wand were helping the third one out on his first go.

they immediately seemed to be a good natured and fun loving bunch, their big smiles setting them apart from the stern and dismal faces which constituted the vast majority of the oh-so-serious attendants. i observed them for a while and analyzed how they were going about it and just thought to myself, ‘what the heck, this is a good opportunity to help people with their casting, just jump in !’

this was an interesting challenge that gave me the chance to put a few instruction thoughts into application that had been going around in my mind for a while. to sum up briefly, it’s about not using too many words in conveying information when teaching casting. too many words confuse and isolate the student and have a negative effect. the Golden Rule is K.I.S.S. ‘Keep it Short and Simple’.  easier said than done but here i didn’t have a choice.

i had noticed that they would lip read when people communicated with them so i tried to keep that to an absolute minimum. since i don’t know sign language i went about it by simultaneously depicting with my left hand, pointing, visually describing through gestures, attracting attention to the specifics that i was trying to convey while demonstrating the actual movements with my right hand.

at first they were a bit surprised but very soon a comfort level set in and things were rolling smoothly in less than a minute. from the first second it was a lot of fun. to see how happy and smiling they were, to see the spark in their eyes as things ‘clicked in’ gave back a sense of purpose that had been trailing off as to why i became a casting instructor in the first place.

we started off by pantomiming Jason Borger’s Foundation Casting Stroke and in five minutes all three had a much better slack-less control of the line and nice looking loops. pretty darn fast learners. as usual, the total beginner, not having previously acquired bad habits picked up the motions faster than the other two. at the end of our ten minute encounter he was correctly correcting his friends !

this all grew some attention from the crowd who cheered them on as they progressed and a kind older man offered his casting lane so that we could do horizontal pick-up and lay-down and roll casts. combined with the standard aerial casts, these would serve as the bases of fly casting they could work on later on their own.

the moment ended with a quick pic and a warm goodbye and i was left alone with the rod. the owner and maker of that rod came over, grabbed it and said “now that they’re finished, i’ll take that back.”

i never had a chance to try it out.

* this story is several years old and was first published on my first blog Fly Casting France

LOco WriSt !!!

are you one of those limp-wristed, flip-flopping, out of control, hand-flailing, line all over the place fly casters ?
if so, give this a try next time you go out for a practice session. of course you won’t be able to fish this way but the idea is to get the ‘feeling’ of what having a firm wrist/forearm connection can do and how it almost always makes a decent caster a much-much better one.

having good control of the wrist is just like magic. all of a sudden the flyline starts going back and forth in their intended directions, flies start avoiding trees and grass and remain attached to the leader, waterside friends stop giggling and it all usually involves catching a few more fish and a lot less frustration and sweat. all good, huh ?

let’s see how it works. if we don’t control our wrist and allow it to pivot excessively we start casting in big great dome-shaped convex arcs in the same manner that windshield wipers move. since the line is supposed to do what the rod tip does, the whole line goes back and forth mimicking the dome-shaped course the rod tip took. these big open loops or ‘non-loops’ leave the line to the mercy of wind, take up a lot more space than necessary, the line tip and leader often land in an uncontrolled pile and any kind of accuracy is severely compromised. and it’s ugly.

the reel against the forearm method above is as noted, just a way to get a better feel of how we should try to cast, at least in the learning or relearning stage. turn the handle around and gently press the bottom of the reel against your arm and start casting as normal using the whole arm and all it’s joints instead of just the wrist and watch the loops tighten up. wow, they’re even SEXY !!! (of sorts…) but what this mostly shows us is that you’re in control of the rod and line.
there are gimmicks and gizmos on the market in the form of straps that attach to the rod butt preventing it from going away from the forearm which do about the same thing but most of the time people just revert to flip-flopping as soon as the strap comes off and i guess they must feel a little sore for having just spent 29.99 for nothing… whereas this method costs nothing and doesn’t allow the wrist to bend and that’s where this shines.

ok, so we’ve felt the ‘feel’ but what next ?  well, after casting like this for a while and once we’ve turned the reel back to it’s normal downward position, one of the tricks is to pretend that the hand and forearm are a solid unit just as if we were wearing a plaster-cast, recreating what we’ve learned by inverting the reel. whether we want to or not the wrist is going to move a little anyway and that’s good, mission accomplished.
the real remedy is a ‘mental thing’. for this to work we need to be constantly ‘telling’ our arm/body what to do instead of letting it do as it wishes or rather, what it’s been used to doing before.
it involves getting rid of old automatic reactions and replacing them with new ones (some call this muscle memory) and this all takes a little time (regular practice), work and perseverance but it’s well worth it.
later on, when this new skill is acquired and flip-flopping is no longer an issue we can start to use the wrist constructively in a controlled manner: that’s fine tuning an acquired skill.
another undeniably good and very important aspect of this ‘blocked wrist’ method is that it forces us to learn to move our elbows and shoulder more than before to achieve a proper cast.
simple logic tells us that for a  certain motion it will be better to have the stronger and bigger muscles and joints do most of the force work and let the weaker/smaller yet more mobile and faster joints refine the movement. the strong to weaker order is shoulder – elbow – wrist – fingers.

keep in mind that all of us at every level need to work on just one thing at a time and wrist control really needs to be under check to move on.

if you’re having wrist issues, please give this a try and let me know if it helps, ok ?

landing a fish without breaking the rod

nice tip by Justin Duggan. the ‘rod high’ position, a typical fault so common with freshwater anglers is out of the question with bigger and stronger fish. on the average trout this usually leads to the fish coming off the hook but in the salt or with stronger freshwater fish such as salmon or pike the angler often ends up with not only a lost fish but also a lost rod…

brainwashem’ young- Lila

four year old Lila is showing us how to perform her very own super-special “Pretend Chinese” cast with her M.P.R. (Micro Practice Rod) while daddy Marshall does plain ‘ole casting in the back !

WoW, what a start !

just in: Lila just got a new baby sister this morning to share her fly casting wizardry with. welcome to the world Stella Jane !

tuesday’s quote

“It is not easy to tell one how to cast. The art must be acquired by practice.”

Charles Orvis-1883

i’ll add that a combination of proper explanations with proper demonstrations and continued practice will make it all work a lot better, a lot easier and a lot faster.