adding to the ‘Fly Casting Instruction Analysis‘ series, here’s yet another example of what i consider poor casting instruction. it’s not that it doesn’t or cannot work because his method is used by many and i guess they’re happy, it’s the definitive ‘you must’ tone used to imply that his style is best. it isn’t and it can’t be because of it’s rigid structure and how it’s taught.
foot stance– beyond the obvious that very often we don’t even have a choice as to how our feet are positioned, (meaning that to be able to cast and fish efficiently without it being a chore or just to make it possible, we’ll need to learn to cast and fish in different positions.) Kreh would have us believe that there’s only one valid casting foot stance and his manner suggests that any other method is less efficient or a fault. he does point out the possibility of using a ‘squared’ or ‘closed’ stance but they’re referred to negatively when in fact each one has it’s advantages and disadvantages, furthering the notion that no one stance is better than another.
what he’s teaching is style and not substance but he’s treating it as substance.
thumb placement– i’ve already explained here why i believe the thumb-on-top grip is the least interesting grip to use but as also noted, there’s nothing wrong with it when we overcome it’s shortcomings, but once again, the person interested in developing their capabilities will include other grips to their repertoire.
wrist control– interestingly, twisting the wrist along the forearm’s axis is most prominent when side-casting, exactly what he’s teaching with the elbow-always-on-the-board method.
take away the board and we’re left with a much greater cause of improper wrist control: flexion.
take away the thumb-on-top grip and very often the excessive flexion disappears. interesting indeed.
as a side note and although not so easy to see, if we pay attention we’ll notice that he does indeed twist his wrist a little while casting. this doesn’t really fit in well with the explanations given. also, starting the cast with a high rod tip and it’s resultant slack in the loops doesn’t fit in with what i would describe as demonstrating a style very well either but i guess that’s not part of this style.
anyhow, again, what he’s teaching is style and not substance but he’s treating it as substance.
i’ll add a personal note here – reel weight and it’s effect on grip. (regardless of grip style)
if we believe that the reel should be in a fixed position relative to the arm’s movements we’ll need to apply more force on the rod grip to keep the reel in plane when we should be doing exactly the opposite: relaxing our grip as much as possible throughout the cast. as a reminder and generally speaking, the only time we should be tightening the grip is during the ‘stop’ sequence.
the shelf– wow, this is the big one that really demonstrates the narrow-minded rigidity of this method.
to achieve SLP (Straight Line Path of the rod tip), the elbow needs to be at first extended away from the body at the beginning of the stroke, then brought towards the body towards the middle of the stroke and then back out at the end. the board method indeed does this but why should the elbow remain on the same plane off to our side ?
how can we stay on the board while casting over the shoulder ?
what about roll casts and Speys ?
what happens if we don’t have a board ?
and more importantly, won’t i get splinters all over my arm by doing this ?!
in Jason Borger’s ‘Foundation Casting Stroke’ we have the exact same elbow out-in-out method but it’s free to move around on any plane. for vertical casting i often describe this elbow movement as ‘picking up the phone’, what Kreh teaches us is to ‘throw it away’…
as for the “mental shelf” i’ll just reverently bow to his creative imagination…
once again, what he’s teaching is style and not substance but he’s treating it as substance.
what this all points to is he has a method of teaching based solely on reinforcing the validity of his own method with the exclusion of others.
a good teacher observes the pupil and adapts to their needs and physical abilities and not the other way around.
a good teacher, while having his/her own preferred methods knows different methods and knows how to pick parts from one or another and combine them to suit the student’s needs. rigid teaching doesn’t leave this possibility.
a good teacher learns how to apply ‘band-aid quick fixes’ but doesn’t model their method around them.
a good teacher knows how to exclude his own ego from the lesson.
to sum things up, Kreh may have aids but i don’t find them very helpful.