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 this ‘anchor loads the rod‘ nonsense HERE)

– 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

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 using 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 makes the catch that much more worthwhile and memorable when i works.

Tournament Casting and the Proper Equipment

by Louis Stopford Darling 1907  via openlibrary.org

Tournament Casting
always amazed by what a little searching on the net can bring, here’s a nifty little 130 page insight on how casting sport was practiced over a hundred years ago in the US.
even now there isn’t a whole lot published on the matter and that makes this a real treat. outdated and current, it’s a very interesting read. it does involve a few chapters on dumb bait casting equipment but by using the chapter reference below you can just flip pages or better yet, use the slider at the bottom of the page to access the fly casting parts. (be warned that the chapters pages are a little arbitrary… )
as fishers, of special interest to most of us is “Obstacle Fly Casting”. you can recreate your own ‘obstacle course’ during practice sessions and/or turn this into your own games among friends where the winner receives a chosen beverage and even the looser will have learned a trick or two to bring to the water. “He laughs best who laughs last”…  😉

click on either pic to access the complete ebook. enjoy !

tournamentcasti00darlgoog_0009

“I will practice my cast maybe, or just go fishing.”

via CustomFlies.dk

such an interesting mix of “I know better but probably won’t”.
as casting/fishing instructors this situation comes up often. even with paying students.
we have to find out just how much the person(s) want to put into it and work from there.
far from being a ‘ha-ha, look at him screw up’ post, i particularly like the humble honesty involved in making and sharing this video and it’s accompanying words.
thing is, he’s not bad at all. nothing a little guided practice wouldn’t fix….

“I am not a good flycaster, in every cast I try to get longer than I ever have before, as a result of that, I often have knots on my leader that are not supposed to be, at other times I just have bad casting days. I guess I should practice more instead of fishing, but then again, then I wouldn’t have the time to go fishing as much.


I have more than once been out fishing with friends that are awesome casters and caught nothing, while they were having the time of their life, simply because I couldn’t cast long enough or cast at all because of wind from a wrong direction, wind changing direction all the time or no room behind me. Only once, I have tried that my bad casting helped me catch fish, Allan Overgaard and I were fishing this “bathtub” from land when I did a good cast my fly landed exactly where the fish were rising all the time, Allan’s casts went a bit too long and the shootinghead spooked the fish. As soon as he realized what was happening and started doing shorter casts, he started catching fish too.”

related articles

The Key to Good Fly Casting: Practice!

by Bruce Richards

fly casting can be very easy and it can be extremely complex, it’s all a matter of how far we want to take it. you can be an expert in history without ever having made history but you can’t cast a fly line with just theory.
whatever level we want to achieve won’t happen without a certain learning curve and without practice. Bruce gives us some very solid advice and ideas that make perfect sense. i hope you’ll both enjoy and benefit from this master’s experience and wisdom.

“A lot has been written about how to cast effectively. I’ve taught over 3000 people to cast. The one single most important factor in successfully learning to cast, or improving your casting is practice. A lot of my students spend good money and time to take lessons, but if they don’t practice what they have learned it will be lost. Developing good practice habits is often the key to becoming a good caster.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to practice, but practicing fairly often is important. To make a bad analogy, practicing casting is a lot like training a puppy. The best way to train a puppy is in frequent short sessions, not all day once a month, the same goes for casting. Every day is best, but 3-4 times a week is certainly adequate. I have found the best practice sessions are usually 15-20 minutes long, for me in the evening after work. I like to leave a rod rigged and ready in the garage that I can quickly grab and head to the back yard. Having water isn’t necessary for a good practice session, except for roll casting. If you want to practice roll casting on the grass all you need to do is secure the end of the leader to something, to simulate the resistance of water. I like to use a clipboard, just clip the end of the  leader in the spring clip and you are ready to cast.

Of course it is important to practice the right things. If you are having trouble correcting problems or improving your casting you need to reference a good book or video, or better yet, a good instructor. Books and videos can be very helpful but don’t provide the feedback a qualified casting instructor can.

I think it is very important to practice to a target. Too many casters practice by just throwing loops at the same distance without paying much attention to their delivery. Being able to hit a target is often pretty important when fishing. A technique I have used very successfully when practicing follows. This drill works very well when practicing for demanding casting tasks like fishing for bonefish or tarpon.

Determine a good place to stand in the middle of a good sized open area. Scatter 6-8 targets (I use paper plates) around at various distances appropriate to the kind of fishing you do, and in different directions. Stand in the center of the targets and make a cast to the one in front of you. Strip the line in short, turn your body one way or the other and make your next cast at the target you see first. Try to make each cast with no more than 3-4 false casts. Repeat this process until you’ve made several casts at each target.

This drill will teach you to quickly work out line, judge distance and make good deliveries. If you find that you are unable to consistently come close to the targets, that usually indicates a problem with your loops, time to consult your book, video, or instructor !”


related articles

Fly Casting- Mental preparation

competition fly casting, at least distance casting isn’t my thing.
as much as i might have a great time watching others partake and know full well that there’s a lot to be brought back from it to the fishing world (similarly to how Formula 1 racing technology comes back to our everyday cars), i’ll learn a lot from it but i don’t enjoy it myself.
i’ve hurt myself so much in the past doing other activities that this type of casting leaves me in pain. big pain. i’ll play along briefly with my friends at various shoot-outs at Gatherings but i won’t practice for it anymore. getting good at the distance game means an enormous amount of effort both physically and mentally and today’s featured comment is about this last part, the mental aspect.
however, as much as the thoughts below are geared towards competition they can also be of great benefit to the fly angler desiring to be a better caster, better prepared  to attack a challenging situation in everyday fishing or on a special trip.
confidence, knowing when to give it all or hold back, repeatability, time constraints and looking outside of the fly casting world to find ways to improve our activity are just a few common elements that’ll make a great difference between an average caster and one who wants to go up a few notches.
to sum it up, it’s about being aware, conscious or whatever you want to call it about how you’re moving through space and time, being able to judge your ‘comfort zone’, lower and upper limits and yup, you guessed it, none of this will happen without regular practice, focussed practice, practice with a goal.

with John Waters’ kind permission, i’ll hope you’ll find it useful for your own needs.

Preparation for any sporting contest is the same, including casting sport.
Confidence in your ability to reproduce your best under pressure requires perfecting that technique. Training can be divided into a number of categories but I will restrict them here to two, namely technique training and competition training. Technique training should be performed at 50% to 80 % of your competition speed. You can’t learn/change technique whilst casting at full speed.
In conjunction with technique training, strength and flexibility preparation should also be undertaken. Close to the event start training under competition pressure. If you are alone in this pursuit (and we are unfortunately), you must structure your training as if you are competing. Replicate the event’s time limit to your training periods and plan each cast within that time limit. By that I mean you will usually get between 5 to 8 casts in 5 minutes. Train such that the first two casts are at 80% to 90% of your speed/power capacity and use them for a threefold purpose ie. relax your body, structure your breathing and judge your optimum trajectory in the conditions.
The 3rd and 4th casts are at max. speed and power, maintaining your relaxation regime. The 5th and later casts are at max capacity but realise that you need to increase your focus on relaxation because at this stage you may have the propensity to try too hard and technique suffers. Understand this and train to maintain your technique when the clock is ticking down to zero. There are many ways you can do this but a simple one is to train for this by setting an alarm clock to specify a time limit on a minimum number of false casts and a delivery.
If you want to perform at your best, you must maintain your technique under the pressure of competition so identify your specific coping mechanisms and structure your training accordingly. Competition-associated nerves cannot be avoided but can be channelled. Remember practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice does. In a casting competition you are only competing against yourself, because you have no control over what the other competitors achieve, so develop a competition persona and technique that focuses your complete attention exclusively upon what you are doing. The only other thing I could suggest is to compete in tournaments as often as you can.
Also, I suggest you talk to as many people as possible about competition casting. I know you are concentrating on the fly events but correspond with casters in other events e.g. plug casting events because their competition techniques are far more restrictive than fly casting. You don’t have the option of another false cast to get it right there, it is all or nothing in one cast. Now that really focuses the mind on mental preparation and casting technique.
John

Fly Casting- a roll cast tool

courtesy of Mike Heritage

one of the most ingenious casting practice tools i’ve seen, this one’s not only perfect to practice roll casting but accuracy as well since the fluff needs to be in the bottom of the tool to do the former ! another bonus is we don’t need an assistant (my experience is assistants get bored after two-three casts, run away as fast as they can walk away and never come back… ) or to be walking back and forth to replace the fluff after every cast as with some other devices.

also, whether performed with a single or double handed rod, since all spey casts are concluded with a roll, this tool will be a great asset to work on this part of the cast.
don’t go searching for a place to buy it as it’s not sold but luckily, a little steel wire and some elbow grease is all that’s needed to build your own. enjoy !

tip- you might want to slightly increase the size/volume of your fluff-fly so it doesn’t pull out of the groove before the completion of the cast.

The Bubble Spey

from  Swedish buddy Tobbe Hedin

” an upstream Snake Roll followed by a sweep Poke “ and a perfect example of how a creative caster will mix and match different cast elements to meet the demands of the moment.
the kind of thing that doesn’t happen (read can’t) to those that don’t prepare in advance and practice … 😉

Fly Casting Practice and Stance

funny and silly as it is, this video got me thinking about foot stance. not the foot stance used in ideal and comfortable conditions as when practicing out on a field, but the different ones we’ll use while we’re out fishing.

i’m always hearing and reading that this or that position of the feet is best with often lengthly explanations to prove the point. this always makes me wonder if these instructors or authors ever fish at all…

in my experience, it’s a rare opportunity to be able to choose how i would like to stand when i’m trying to cast to a fish. banks and riverbeds are uneven, tides and currents want to push me down, there’s a rise behind me on the other side of the boat, a friend or an obstacle are in the way (sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between the two… !), i’m on one knee, laying down behind a bush, casting backwards (presenting the fly on the back cast) and let’s not forget the wind that always seems to want to complicate the task ! these examples make it obvious to me that the more we practice and get comfortable with casting in less than ideal situations, the better our performances will be and the more stressless fun we’ll have when we’re on the water.

when working on stance whether it be with beginners or confirmed casters, i ask them to ignore the usual straight forward stance and cast in as many different positions as possible. at first it feels awkward but that feeling soon disappears. we adapt quickly when we see that things are a lot easier to do than we thought.

fly casting and fly fishing are a series of constant variables and foot stance is just one of those variables.

i hope you enjoy this amusing video by ‘The Great Murray ‘Muzz’ Wilson from Australia. watching him cast while doing these shenanigans, and how he casts better than most people while doing them makes me think he’d agree with the above. may this article incite you to  include some variety during your practice sessions. practice doesn’t always make perfect but it’s rare that it doesn’t make ‘better’.