Fly Casting- Drawing a Fish

graciously sent in by London-based casting colleague Alex Titov, here’s some lovely fly line art in the form of a fish.
fly fishing, there’s so much more to it than simply catching…

Alex Titov 'drawing a fish' 27-1-16_edit
thanks Alex !

Fly Casting- A little more on the Double Haul

as a follow up to yesterday’s post Explaining the Double Haul, friend and instructor colleague Craig Buckbee a.k.a. EasternCaster offered a brilliantly simple addition, something every person of any level of fly casting can really benefit from by keeping in the forefront of the mind when practicing the double haul:

“The rod hand initiates the cast, the line hand finishes the cast”

that simple statement/mantra-to-be-mumbled-over-and-over actually says/implies a lot about great hauling form and great casting in general but there’s a few more things to add to this topic so i’ll just leave it at that for today and encourage you to not only try it out but also think about it for a while.


as for this somewhat cryptic image, here’s a minor tip that came in handy to help solve a little issue a casting student of mine had during a course a few months back. i know its a little off-the-shelf but if it can help someone else then it’ll be well, just great.

the situation: this gentleman had been falsley lead to believe for many-many years by a bunch of bozos that the double-haul was a ‘specialist’s’ technique only to be used by the elite to cast very far… and as a result and as primarily a river trout fisher, had never learned to haul but heard the contrary here and there and was keen to learn.
Krieger's Haul drill mono loop m.fauvet-TLC 5-1-16
by far, i prefer to have students use the type of gear they’ll be using in their ‘everyday’ fishing but he was having a little trouble getting the right feel and timing for the feedback so i pulled out my Mel Krieger Hauling Reel backup (it’s a shooting head with a mono shooting line – see the video below) and included Mel’s drill as part of the afternoon’s tasks.

this started off really well for those specific difficulties and after a few minutes they where almost a thing of the past however, whether it was his aging hands combined with the thinnish shooting mono or, 20-30 years of being used to slipping line through the fingers whilst false casting reflex, the end result was an excess amount of overhang after each casting cycle and as anyone who’s cast a shooting line knows, there’s only so much overhang possible before things start to get nasty, ugly and frustrating or in other words, this was turning into negative, unproductive time spent by the student.

since there’s no actual line shooting involved in this drill and after noticing how line slippage was quickly becoming the centre of his attention instead of the key elements (and also noticing how i was starting to sweat whilst trying to find a solution quickly… ) i decided to eliminate the impedment by cutting the shooting line at the correct overhang length and tie a simple loop knot that could be easily held.
line slippage became impossible, focus shifted back to the task and after a few minutes, the beginner hauler became quite proficient. enough so that when he re-installed his ‘normal’, thicker, non-slippery line back on the rod, everything went fine and dandy and the Mister left a happy-hauling camper.

in novels and movies i really like it when the hero gets her/his brains blown out or the couple ends by a grueling divorce but when it comes to casting lessons, a happy ending is always a win-win.

and as another happy ending, here’s Mel ! enjoy !

Fly Casting- Explaining the Double Haul

by Stefan Siikavaara

originally written in 2009, here’s an interesting approach on the subject that stands up well to time. intended for casting instructors, this ‘frame of mind’ or maybe ‘perspective shift’ should be of  interest for fly anglers of all levels.

when talking about or teaching the Double Haul we tend to simply say “it speeds up the line” and often just leave it at that. Stefan digs a little deeper and i thank him for it.

“You want to keep it simple while teaching, but this is sometimes easier said than done. While teaching you sometime get really tough questions from your students. I’ll give you an example: I’ve been asked a few times about what the doublehaul does to your cast

When I get this question all sorts of things go through my head. I am thinking about what I read in Mac Brown’s excellent book, Casting Angles. The haul is a necessity to master because it enables the caster to conserve energy throughout the fly cast. It entails putting all the various casting fundamentals together for a cumulative effect of attaining higher line velocity on the stream. The line hand pulls on the line. This causes the rod flex to increase which leads to greater rod deflection.

I am also thinking about a great essay in physics that doctor Grunde Løvoll published a while ago. Mr Løvoll’s findings show that the catapult effect, the actual unbending of the rod only equates to about 10% of the total line speed in a cast.

Among the other things that go through my head are a few of the traditional views of the double haul. That it increases the bend of the rod and that it also reduces slack line in the cast.

I am tempted to answer all of this. But as you already figured out, these explanations question each other. On some points they even contradict each other. And most importantly, handing this big package over to my student is not simple enough; therefore it is not good enough.

Let’s have has closer look at them. My conclusion of Mac Brown’s explanation joined with Løvoll’s findings is that the haul gives additional speed directly to the line. I like it, let’s leave it at that.

If I would go for the traditional view of the haul reducing slack in the cast I would risk planting a casting fault in my students head. Why is that you ask? Well, if there is slack in the line it would most likely manifest itself the most early in the cast, while the loop is unfurling or after the line has turned over. The idea of using the haul to reduce slack would incite starting the haul early. Well, if I start the haul early I risk finishing it too soon. And what would that give me? I run a considerable risk of adding a tailing loop to my students cast with that explanation.

So, all these things buzzing in my head and the student still waiting for an answer to his question: What does the double-haul do to my cast?

So what do I say? Do I go for the technical explanation or do I go for a traditional description? This student had not read all the literature and joined in on all the threads on the internet boards. He just wanted to brush up his casting for hunting seatrout down the Swedish coast.

No, instead I’ll choose an explanation by Lefty Kreh that I think sums them up: The line hand is the accelerator. You drive your car, you shift gears and you press the accelerator. You start your stroke, you speed up and then you haul.

Being able to abstract and condense a huge amount of information and different theories into a short and simple answer proves that you really know your stuff. Read everything, evaluate everything and learn from it all. But keep your explanations clean and simple. The mark of a great teacher as the late Mel Krieger is to make complex things simple. Use few words, use your body language, use examples that your student can relate to. Keep it simple.”

Fly Casting films- An experiment in White

having recently aquired a decent video editor has lead to a lot of playing around, a lot of confusion, a lot of “what the hell, click that button to see what happens !”, a lot of D’Ohs ! and so far, at least one ah-ha ! and that ah-ha is visible in this little gif.

see, that’s a standard black carbon fibre rod but one of those random clicks magically turned it into a glowing white, extremely visible, just perfect for demonstrating how fly rods move throughout the cast, rod.
a lot of us casting instructors already have white or high-viz rods for just this purpose but the magic button brings the visibility up several notches, really attracts the eye and will enable me to get the same after-the-fact high-viz rendition with anyone’s rod making this gizmo a super-nice tool to demonstrate and analyse anyone’s casts. yup, that’s all quite geek but i’m a casting geek… so i’m also quite excited ! as this magical surprise gives me lots of ideas for upcoming casting videos which is why i got the editor for in the first place.

technically, i’m somewhat of a digital editing newb but the old-school photo student in me tells me the rod turned white through some kind of solarization. why the magical button decided to reverse the tone of just the rod and not other similar dark tones is a complete mystery but one i’ll live with as i love a world filled with an equal balance of magic and science.
as for the cast, this is just some old random footage used for the editor-learning process. the seemingly random rod wiggling is a C pick-up towards the left followed with an aerial Snake roll to the right. being a metre or so above the water level doesn’t help to get an ideal anchor but it worked just fine. besides, casting just for the sake of casting is always fun and rewarding. funny thing with this one is the reward came several years later.

the real problem with ‘wind’ knots.

wind knots‘, that’s the denialists‘ term for casting knots and no, they’re not just made by tailing loops or outrageous casting faults but today’s reminder isn’t about the causes of these knots however embarrassing or annoying they may be but of their consequence.
in other words, these knots kink the mono and greatly reduce the original breaking point of the monofilament material they’re made of.
as we’ll see in Simon Gawesworth’s video, percentages on specific materials vary but generally speaking, that reduction is approximately 50% and that puts us in a very precarious situation if a fish takes our fly because well, we’re left with half the strength threshold we originally counted on.
to make things worse and if i understand correctly,  Instron-type machines used to register elongation and breaking strains do so in a steady, smooth, pulling manner but fish tend to not follow the same procedure…
although i can’t prove this with numbers i’m very certain that sudden tugs and bursts of strength means our knotted lines will be even weaker relatively speaking than those 50 or so %.

double-wind-knot

apart from the denialists, these knots happen to everyone at one point or another and if we want to not get into trouble and leave hooks in fish mouths, there’s only one remedy and that’s to regularly check our leaders and tippets, specially if there’s the slightest doubt or after an obvious yucky cast.
– no knots, carry on as usual.
– find a knot ? is it loose as in the pic ? just undo it and just to be sure, check for kinks.
– did it tighten/seat ? cut it off and rejoin the two pieces.
– if the knot’s too close to the fly or other ‘good’ leader knot, just replace the whole piece and you’ll be able to fish in peace.

better Wading through Yoga

for most anglers, this is about as close to any kind of exercise as they’ll get…

%22power snap%22

but fear not ! and even though i know for sure 99.9% of you will just laugh and scoff the mere idea i’ll reach some sort of blogger’s nirvanaish bliss if just the 0.01% can relate you can still work on your ‘power-snap’ and also become a little fitter or at least live with a little less pain and have a freer movement range that’ll of course make your days on the water better and also improve your posture, tv watching experiences, driving comfort, your work day, gaming, sex and all the other trivial things in life thanks to a few rather easy stretch routines.

forearmplank
Forearm Plank (think of it as full-body SLP)

“Colorado lakes and rivers lure fly-fisherman with natural beauty, peaceful waters and hard-fighting trout. But, as serene as fishing may be, overuse injuries are common. Many anglers complain of pain in the shoulder, elbow and wrists that can last for hours or even days after a fishing trip.”

A number of factors lead to overuse injuries. Casting technique, rod weight, rod design and physical stance can all affect the likelihood of developing overuse injuries. For most anglers, some amount of pain is difficult to avoid. But just a few minutes a day spent opening and strengthening the shoulders, elbows, forearms and wrists will help avoid overuse injuries.”

have a beer or three, don your waders and click either pic for the complete article while trying not to break anything in the process. enjoy !

upplank
Modified Upward Plank – “Push it all Into the Clouds”
gorilla
The Gorilla ! grunting is recommended.

Fly Casting- Practice with a purpose

shared here with Walter Simbirski’s kind permission.

Walter is an IFFF Master Certified Casting Instructor quite active in several fly casting discussion groups and today’s wise advice is taken from one of them. intended as a helping guideline for casting certification candidates, the very same advice is invaluable for any fly angler wanting to up their game.
most reading this won’t be preparing an exam so simply replace words like: exam with whatever fishing situation you’re working on- saltwater flats, high-altitude mountain streams or simply your favourite everyday fishing spot and switch the noted distances to the distances you’ll need and you’ll see that this advice indeed fills everyone’s bill.

we’ll instantly recognise that it’s all just common sense but we fly casters/anglers tend to be an easily distracted, unorganised lot… so, a little reminder can only help. enjoy !

ed_mosser_strobe_photo casting

“We’ve talked about training rather than straining in order to avoid becoming injured. The next advice in the area of practice is learning to practice with a purpose. The goal is to make the most of your training sessions by continuing to avoid injury and to practice the things you need to practice in order to advance your skills. The things to keep in mind when practicing with a purpose are:
– Set up a plan and stick to it. If you are going to practice your accuracy casts regularly then don’t let yourself get sidetracked by beginning every lesson with distance casting.

– Concentrate on the things you need to improve, not the things you are already very good at. Each of us will be different in this respect although virtually everyone will begin with learning to control their loops. Are you able to consistently cast over 85 feet and make it look easy but can’t seem to hit a target? Then you should probably spend most of your time practicing accuracy rather than distance.

– Start every practice session with some warm up drills. Make sure you are stretched and warmed up before getting into the practice session.

– Vary your practicing and forget what the test requires. Instead of setting up targets at 30, 40 and 50 feet try setting up targets at different distances and at different angles rather than just on top of your tape. If you can consistently hit targets at any distance up to 50 feet then you will have a lot more confidence in your ability to perform this task during the test. Some of my fellows take a number of tennis balls and toss them out onto the field as their targets for their practice session.

– Don’t worry about meeting the minimum requirements of a task but concentrate on meeting the requirements with ease. You are required to cast 85 feet – is that your personal best? If so, then don’t count on adrenaline to get you across the line in the test. Continue practicing until you can hit 90 or 95 feet consistently with minimal effort and with the line landing straight.

– If one of your casts is giving you a problem then break it down into smaller parts and identify the things that are giving you problems. Fix these items and then put it all back together. You might recognize this as a form of Whole-Part-Whole. It works for your students and it works for you as well.

– Work with your mentor to identify the areas to concentrate on and what sort of practice drills might help you fix an issue.

– Set aside a time to practice each day stick to it. If you set a regular time you are more likely to stick to practicing each day. Make sure people know that this is your time for practice and that you should not be disturbed. But don’t let your schedule become too much of a habit – vary your times on occasion. If you become mentally conditioned to making your best efforts at a certain time of day you may find your test time is not optimal for you.

– Make sure you revisit the things you don’t concentrate on regularly to ensure you continue to improve or don’t backslide in those areas.

Train. Don’t strain.
Preparing for a casting certification test can be difficult because you need to practice a broad range of skills and it can be hard concentrate on one or two things. When I first began working towards becoming a certified instructor I printed out the performance test, took it to the field and worked my way through each task every time I practiced. After a couple of weeks I found that I spent about 10 minutes each session running through the parts of the test I felt mildly interested in and then spent the rest of my session trying to see if my distance cast had somehow improved from the previous day. Instead of my casting improving it became very sloppy. My loops were large and I was constantly ticking the grass. I was in no condition to attempt the test. At some point I decided that if I was going to pass the test I needed to concentrate on what was really required. Instead of spending every day trying to cast farther I concentrated on increasing the distance for which I had good loop control. If I started each session and found that I could easily handle the distance from the previous day then I added 1 or 2 feet for that session – no more than that. If I felt the loops weren’t up to my satisfaction I shortened the line until I felt I was back in control. By changing my practice methods I found that within a few weeks my casting, and my best distance, improved significantly. It takes patience but it pays off in the long run. Instead of running through the test every day you should run through it every few weeks to identify what things you need to concentrate on for the upcoming weeks. Select a limited number of items you think you can improve and stick to those.

One more tip – review your equipment regularly as well. Make sure you are getting the performance you need from the equipment you have selected and that it is kept in peak form.”

Presentation Casts- DownStream Dry Fly

here’s another great presentation casting tip from Aitor Coteron.

along the lines of Jason Borger‘s downstream presentation ‘Undercut Drop’ (see diagram) and similar in concept as Jim William’s upstream ‘Pull-back-Slack‘, Aitor’s videos show us a super-easy way to get better drag-less drifts.
the common denominator casting-wise is these casts are all based on the same principles and casters of all levels can rejoice because there’s no need to learn and practice any fancy twists, curves, unreliable and wind-dependant tricky piles or wiggles either during-or-after-the-cast movements.
the bonus here is these casts are real, effective fishing casts of great value to any fisher: bread and butter stuff we can consistently rely on and not some iffy maybe-may or maybe-not presentation. in other words, the simpler the better.
everyone who knows me knows how much i love fiddly, curvy casts. outside of the fun factor, i firmly believe it make us better casters because we need to get creative and try to deal with several exterior elements like wind or body movement inconsistencies or whatever else you’d care to add but as more time goes by i try to get the same results in simpler, more easily repeatable manners and today’s videos are super-fine examples of just that kind of practical/effective reductionism.

Jason Borger ffw-undercutdrop

with either one we’ll want to:
– cast directly in line with the current. this is the key to making these casts work and means the angler needs to position themselves in the seam or just to the side of the lane to be fished prior to presenting.
in river fishing we’ll almost always have micro currents to deal with but the big nasty drag issues happen when we have to cast across conflicting currents and the most difficult part of dealing with drag is eliminated, or at least greatly reduced when the fly line and current seam are the same. it just makes sense.
– as previously mentioned, cast straight to the target and the best part about that is just about any fly angler already has that skill down pat. the only thing to keep in mind and as in any other slack line cast, we’ll need to plan the use of more line than when presenting ‘straight to the rise’.
– last somewhat denominator (but i’ll still put them in the same cast family because all rod tip mend movements are basically vertical) is all three casts require either keeping the rod tip high, where it stopped at the ‘stop’, (Jason’s Drop), or drop the rod tip (Jim’s Drop and Pull-Back) or Zeljko’s ‘Drag-Back’ after the ‘stop’ and before line touch-down.

“Very conflicting currents, like those shown here, are a killer for fishing the dry fly with an upstream presentation. Using a downstream approach (when conditions allow it) leads to incredibly long drag-free drifts. Master fly fisher Zeljko Prpic shows how to do it right.” and he sure does… enjoy !

 

and a variant with the very same ‘in-the-seam’ presentation as above but using a reach mend, rather handy when getting into the seam is difficult to wade to or off of the bank.
one last thing, the video says dry fly but this’ll work just as well with whatever fly you have tied on, wet, nymph or dry.

 
ps- Jason’s blog Fish, Flies and Water is currently under reconstruction but be sure to check it out regularly if you don’t want to miss out on the good stuff and, if you’re not familiar with Aitor’s blog One More Last Cast, you should be…

Fly Casting Instruction Breakthrough- How to control someone else’s casting arm with your brain

you’ve attempted everything; you’re trying to help out this lost soul with his casting but whatever you do he has no control whatsoever over his wrist and it’s flip-flopping-flailing all over the place, so is the rod and of course so is the fly line.
he’s embarrassed, frustrated and is having second thoughts about suicide and you, poor instructor are wondering how this guy has gotten through life so far without swallowing his own tongue.

casting hammers

snickering blatantly, motherly insults and verbal threats start the healing process but remain sterile. the Casting Hammers aren’t working (one for each knee), there’s blood, snot and tears all over the rod you lent him for the course (he doesn’t know it yet but he’s just bought your whole outfit at four times its original cost), your Xanax bottle is empty and if you’re not lucky to be bald yet you’re probably pulling out enormous grey tufts whilst trying to figure out what to do next when low and behold, all of a sudden some science geeks in the form of helping angels working out of their parent’s garage have come to save the casting world with just a few old radio parts, suction cups, alligator clips and a low-end model iPad, the whole lot is easily transportable to the casting field in a messenger bag.

wipe the sucker down (be sure to over-charge him for the towels and antiseptic) plug him in and finally get him to cast properly for the first time in his life. at this point it doesn’t really matter if he’s conscious or not because we’ll be working on electrically-induced muscle memory that’ll automatically be stored in his inner him. you’re now in charge, just as it should be.

yeah i know, that was silly (except for the Casting Hammers. i do use them frequently and they work a charm, believe me) but you know, casting, fishing, chocolate, science, dreams and realities all blur into one at a certain point…

brainwashem’ young- Maxine’s amazing Gold Medal

i’m both speechless, sporting a huge grin, absolutely amazed and just all-around happy-extatic  for what this means for children, girls, women, any fly angler/caster and the future of fly fishing in general. here’s why:

Maxine-McCormick-with-medals-211x300

” At the U.S. National Casting Championships in Long Beach, Maxine McCormick finished fourth in fly casting accuracy behind only the world’s best, made the All-America team and bested the all-time women’s mark. That’s right, at age 11, she had the highest women’s score in history. She also broke seven junior national records in different events.

To put it in perspective, casters are scored in accuracy on a scale of zero to 300 in three events. Maxine scored a combined 289 in three events for fly accuracy. That tied for the fourth highest among all casters, no matter age, gender or past achievements.

Maxine’s 289 beat the all-time record for women, 286, set in the 1990s by Canada’s top champion, Brenda McSporran.

So what happened is that 11-year-old old Maxine just scored higher than any female in the history of the American Casting Association and was only outscored by Steve Rajeff, myself and father Glenn by just one point,” said Chris Korich of the Golden Gate Casting Club. “

for more on this amazing feat click the image above for the full article. enjoy !
for more amazing fly fishing kids here’s the complete brainwashem’ young series to share with your little ones.