Fighting fish for a quick caring release

by Peter Morse via Sage Blog

Peter, more commonly known as ‘Morsie’ is one of those rare people whom you can just about blindly believe and trust on just about everything he says.
his reputation as a big fish specialist, guide, master casting instructor is as big as his smile. here he shares his wisdom on a particular aspect of fish fighting: using the rod optimally to tire the fish as soon as possible. being in control, ‘showing who’s the boss’ is what it’s all about when it comes to successfully landing all fish of all sizes and not breaking equipment with the bigger ones.

here’s how to break rods, lose fish and feel stupid…

to read more and see how not to break rods, lose fish and feel stupid click here !

be sure to check out Morsie’s site Wildfish.

the PULD complex

here’s an interesting little exercise that’s starting off quite nicely.
being a relative newcomer to our activity and keenly interested in fly casting, i asked Laurent from GOne Fishin9 to describe with words a basic Pick Up and Lay Down cast.
the purpose is to break down each element, have a better understanding of them and how they work when combined.
this is what he came up with. quite impressive.
instead of keeping this more or less between the two of us, what i’d like is to hear what you all have to say about his description.
the PULD is one of the foundations of casting and breaking it down step by step in our minds before putting those steps into application is an enriching experience for anyone at any level.
let’s play !

the PULD complex

Marc having unexpectedly turned into Sigmund Freud, he’s all about what’s happening into the dark corners of my mind, and since he won’t take ‘wtf??’ as an answer I’d better practice my introspection. Current exercise: what did you think about your mother’s boobs? if you don’t want to think about them, you’re just repressing, that’s sad but you can always try to describe with full detail what happens in a PULD.

yeah, PULD, or PU&LD. In case you’re like myself somewhat unfamiliar with the pro’s lingo (and then feel retarded) it’s for Pick Up & Lay Down.

so, my unenlightened version would be like: take rod… sling back… tug… sling forward… follow. but that won’t do, obviously. I need to get a finer grain.

  1. initial position: right handed, open. left foot in front, right foot behind. body plane slightly tilted towards the line plane. 10m of line on the ground, straight. no slack. rod in line with the line.
  2. grip rather loose, wrist slightly bent to have the rod in line with forearm.
  3. start moving up the rod by flexing the elbow and shoulder. smooth acceleration. the whole movement goes towards a sharp stop with arm horizontal, forearm vertical and wrist straight. the rod is at one o’clock.
  4. your eyes follow the loop, hence your head has turned back over the shoulder to look at the backcast
  5. meantime, and just after the stop, try to squeeze and release the grip to absorb bounce (not very clear what to do, but you try to dampen the goddamn thing)
  6. arm extends a little in direction of backcast while the loop unrolls
  7. when the line is straight, start front cast. smooth acceleration to a stop. stop should be more or less 1-2 o’clock. things you try not to forget:
    1. less power
    2. concentrate on loop: let the loop happen correctly, them the rest will follow (relatively easy to believe at 10m)
    3. careful with power, not too much, else you tail
    4. be smooth and sharp but smooth
    5. try to have the tip moving in a relatively straight path. this one is wishful thinking, because the tip move fast and I have no fucking idea of its trajectory (the tail will tell me)
    6. think you shoot into a tube to try to get a narrow loop
  8. all this went well so the loop is nice and not tailing (much) and maybe it has a kind of point to it. (you should film it to really know but lazy)
  9. just before the line straighten, start lowering the tip. the idea is to follow the line as it falls on the ground.

brainwashem’ young- Brothers of the Fly

these two little guys where so enthralled by all the flies on ‘Tying Street’ that they decided there and then, greatly stating to their mother that from now on they’d get rid of their bobbers and worms and fish flies only. right on !
after a quick photo, they both left with some flies to start them off.
i get the feeling we’ll see them again…

brainwashem’ young- Alistair and Royce

even though dad thinks he’s not getting any fishing time in these days, he’s quite actively getting his boys ready for a life-long passion for fly fishing. good on ya pops !

Alistair, 3 and already likin’ the fluff.

6 year old Royce during his first casting lesson with his new rod. outstanding form and looking at his back cast. wow !
 dad ‘Agitated Angler’ Acey has told me regarding the ‘brainwashem young’ series here:
“I’ve actually shown him those pics. He usually demands a tying session directly after seeing them.”

now if anything’s cooler than that, i don’t know what cool is…

Relaxed Fly Casting

by Jon B. Cave via Midcurrent

very much in line with my own teachings of relaxed casting form, Jon’s great article brings up an oh-so common flaw in the casting world, body tension and the negative effects it has on good line control.
Jon recommends mainly focusing on relaxing the casting hand and arm but i have different thoughts and suggestions on how to actually relax the whole body, which is a good thing because i’m in the middle of writing an article on that very subject for issue no. 3 of Eat, Sleep, Fish coming out next month !

” Casting a smooth and ripple-free loop is an integral part of performance fly casting. However, even an experi­enced caster can instinctively tighten up under pressure to increase distance, speed up the delivery, or make a particu­larly difficult presentation. The result of this tension, more often than not, is an inefficient cast. “

excerpted from Jon Cave’s ‘Performance Fly Casting’ book, click here for the full article.


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.

the Duncan Knot

The DUNCAN LOOP KNOT by Norm Duncan

in this article Duncan explains how he developed the knot and then how it was stolen from him from an outdoor writer and renamed as the Uni-Knot…

“In the early 1960’s I was trying to develop a new way of tying a nail knot, I wanted to eliminate the need for using a nail.

I invented this knot around 1962 and first started showing it to my friends, then to the various fishing clubs, the sportfishing community in South Florida quickly caught on and started calling it “Duncan’s Loop”. Everyone knew I had invented this unique knot that applied to many of the terminal tackle innovations that were developing during this time period. This name became well enough established through the years that it eventually becoming known as the “Duncan Loop”. One day in the mid 1970’s Vic Dunaway the local outdoor writer called me and asked if I could explain and show him my knot, I went over to his house in Cutler Ridge sat on his back porch and explained how I developed the knot, showed him how to properly tie it and gave the pros and cons of the various applications. I was very surprised when a few months later Vic published an article in a sportfishing magazine in which he claimed to have invented a new knot that he called the “Uni Knot”. I understand that he justifies this by claiming that he adapted the knot to other applications. I have never confronted him regarding what I consider as his stealing and renaming my knot because he acquires notoriety and makes money by publishing articles related to the “Uni-Knot”. Since none of the sportfishing publications have seen fit to publish any of my writings I must find some way to document the innovations that I have made in the sportfishing arena. In this case the outdoor writer published his article about what I had invented over ten years earlier; meanwhile, none of these writers have quoted or published anything that has given me proper credit for the innovations that I created.”

-for Norm’s complete article graciously provided for us by Norm himself scroll down to the comments section-

this video shows how easy this knot is to tie, click the image.

keeping the fingers of his right hand inside the loop is a nice trick that’s usually not mentioned. at the end we see him leaving an open loop but we can tighten it down to the eye of the hook as on the diagram at the top of the page if we want. i often use this knot in open loop form at first but it always cinches down to the eye after catching a fish. if a permanent loop is required the ‘Non-Slip Loop’ is a better option in my opinion.

this is my go-to tippet to fly knot. even during tests at home it has not failed once on any sized diameter mono or fly used and even less on a fish. i highly recommend it.

  • Knots (25)  (

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

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 !

brainwashem’ young- Pelle

Pelle’s showing them how it’s done by setting a new Swedish record of 14,5 m in the Juniors Seatrout Distance Class (shooting heads) last May at the Ryd Open. i can’t wait to see what he does in a couple of years. way to go Pelle !

edit: it turns out that Pelle is my friend Magnus Toth’s son and that i’d met him last winter when he came to visit me at my tying bench at the Jonkoping Fair. the world is so small…

video by Lasse Karlsson 

brainwashem’ young – My First Trout

offering comprehensive insights and information on just about every aspect of fly fishing for trout and salmon, these books make fantastic gifts for the little ones and are a nice addition to our guidance and tutoring. bringing them back to the realm of books, the feel of paper and who knows, maybe the sense of discovery and imagination sorely missing from fast-food internet.

“My First Trout is a must for every child. Author Eoin Fairgrieve will capture the imagination of every budding fly-fisher. The book is beautifully illustrated in watercolour by acclaimed artist Ronnie Glass and includes chapters on the trout’s lifecycle, water safety, basic fly-casting, tackle advice and care for the trout and its habitat. A delightful book and a perfect present for your daughter, son, nephew, niece or grandchild”

 following in the footsteps is Eoin’s second book of the series: My First Salmon

click either image to purchase these fine books.

brainwashem’ young – Take Kids Fly Fishing.Com

just stumbled upon this really cool site: Take Kids Fly Fishing.Com

the title says it all, this site is full of info about activities, fishing/casting camps, down-sized equipment suggestions and reviews, guides, books and a lot of smiling pics on the water. although based in the US this is a fine example of what we as adults, parents and professionals can offer to the little ones anywhere around the world.

be sure to pass this one on to any friends or family who have children.

*this article was previously posted on The Limp Cobra’s first platform


hook parts

note: certain manufacturers and authors will replace the term ‘gap’ with ‘gape’ but as far as hooks are concerned the meaning is the same.

and basic elements of a traditional salmon fly

source: Visual Dictionary Online

A Fly Fishing Glossary

published by the Federation of Fly Fishers a few years back, here’s a a little glossary to help those starting off our activity and worth sharing.

personal note: some descriptions, specially the more subjective subjects such as casting or rods can be considered open to debate but it’s nevertheless accurate enough to understand fly shop talk and fly fishing forum content.

some subjects are only briefly covered. for a deeper understanding i’d recommend a quick Google search. as an example, we are told that an  ‘Arbor knot: Is a knot used for tying backing to the arbor of the fly reel’.  when we Google it we find out what it looks like and how to use it.


” Anadromous: A term to describe fish that travel from the sea upriver to spawn in fresh water like salmon. Fish that migrate from freshwater to the sea for spawning are catadromous.

Angler: One who seeks to catch fish with a hook (an “angle”), usually fixed to the end of a line.

Anti-Reverse: A feature of fly reels where the spool handle does not turn as line is pulled out from the reel.

Attractor: A style or variety of fly that is effective in eliciting strikes, but has few apparent characteristics of a natural food item. Often an attractor is flashy and bigger than life.

Arbor: The center part of a fly reel where line and backing (first) is wound.

Arbor knot: A knot used for tying backing to the arbor of the fly reel.

Back cast: The casting of line in a direction opposite to the direction the fly is intended to go. The backward counterpart of the forward cast which acts to create a bending action on the fly rod, setting up the conditions to generate the forward cast and present the fly. “