“Hocus Pocus”

a very dark day needs some light to balance it out. this article cum memoir kindly sent in by Mark Surtees gleams with childhood fears that turn to admiration, magic, the realisation and appreciation that fly fishing is a lot more than just catching fish and most importantly, at least in my eyes, how we as sharers or teachers share and teach our passions. all too often, the what takes over the how but as with light and darkness, one doesn’t really mean anything without the other.

thanks again Mark for giving our readers another gem to reflect on and enjoy.


Hocus Pocus
(Focus, 1972)

Was it for fun as a kid on holiday or day trip? Perhaps it was in adolescence to distract you from a life of petty criminality, a developing meth habit or a wicked and dangerous career out on the cultural edge in politics, accountancy or law. Maybe it was as an adult just to help de-stress. Whenever it was, the chances are, one way or another, you were actively taught to fish. Very few people pick up fishing tackle of any description without encouragement and brief instruction from a third party.

My Grandfather taught me. Over cold fishless winters he would sit, black suited, in his high back chair, smoking bitter navy cut cigarettes, sour as wormwood, silent, waiting. Sometimes he looked at me with his old crow eyes and I wondered if he would lean forward and peck out my soul…..he didn’t, but I was only six years old and very, very afraid of him.

One spring, when the grasses were still flat from the snow and the primroses bloomed on the banks, I went with him to fish the local river. We sat among the streamside flowers and I watched him tackle up. He cast a beaten up bamboo rod with a broken tip that was patched with a short length of brass tubing, a greased kingfisher silk line and flies from an old mock tortoiseshell fly box which contained a few nondescript patterns he had tied himself long ago. I could see his fly land on the surface of the water, float a little, then disappear as a trout rose amongst the ripples in the run and took it.

For an impressionable little boy it was an act of unimaginable and astonishing magic, a fish conjured seemingly from nowhere. This relatively simple, deliberate and entirely expected catch on the part of my Grandfather caused a radical and entirely unexpected transformation in my childish opinion of him. I moved instantly from fear to fascination. I was six, he was a caster of spells, so I naturally concluded that he was, very obviously… a Wizard.

I begged him to teach me the magic, and, as I grew up, he did. It was of necessity an inexact, imperfect, ad hoc sort of instruction but it was a gift from Grandfather to Grandson of almost inestimable value. I think he knew that…me? I had no idea and he died long before I realised.

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Of course we all know that magic tricks do not happen by accident. They are repeatable, infused with purpose and completely within the control of the magician. Their objective is to deceive, just as ours is to deceive a trout in the stream when we fish.

Whilst, hopefully, we do not seek to actively bamboozle our clients in quite the same way, our lessons too are not, in many respects, significantly different to a well executed trick. If we structure and objectivise them properly then we too may surprise, amaze and delight.

Useful objectives should be observably measurable as far as is reasonably practicable and when we pick them they should be within the power of the student to achieve.
Appropriate selection of these achievable objectives allows students to build a succession of small but consistent learning wins. Each win a learned skill and each learned skill used to develop a new one and/or reinforce an old one.

For an instructor teaching within a “whole, part, whole” schema, it becomes critical to select suitable objectives so that common faults can be actively taught out without introducing negativity to the process. By doing this, within reason of course, new skills can be made to compound and combine largely error free.

That there are objectives for a student is a given. What is not so obvious, or maybe just not so often admitted, is that there are personal objectives for the instructor too. Whilst we may all wear the ego boosting insignia of our qualifications, the official regalia and psycho-protective badgery cannot really mask the ghastly truth, which is that we all, (well, most of us), have the same wonky limbic system and full complement of cognitive frailties as everyone else. So, I too want wins because this gives me a sense of achievement and I know I will instruct better and my student will learn better in a teaching environment which is giving us both positive rather than negative feedback.

In this context, although we clearly need subsets of grimly practical casting targets, there is no need to be emotionally dry with more abstract over-riding aims. Instruction isn’t just about a perfect PULD (Pick Up and Lay Down) or tail free loop, a quintuple toe hauled Jelly Roll or a cast out to the backing knot, it’s also a little bit about making people feel happy.

As a goal, I have to admit that this is very easy to say, not as easy as I ever first imagined to achieve and very difficult to objectively measure. But, sometimes, just sometimes, when you have had to do your very best sorcery to make it all happen, when those casts pop out from the turmoil like my Grandfathers perfect little trout from the ripple in the run, when you are dancing in a monastery garden with a beautiful laughing woman or being hugged by a big beardy biker on a wet suburban rugby pitch when the lessons end, then, you feel happy…and I like that…my Grandfather would have liked it too I think.

Mark Surtees ☺

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.

rock magic

performed by Michael Grab, no words could do this magic justice.

Stone Balancing Michael Grab “I am constantly in awe at the stillness, let alone possibility, of such precarious formations, amidst sometimes very turbulent conditions. Balance requires a minimum of three contact points. Luckily, every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a natural tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the vibrations of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest “clicks” as the notches of the rocks are moving over one another. In the finest “point-balances”, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters, and in rare cases can even go undetected, in which case intuition and experience become quite useful. Some point-balances will give the illusion of weightlessness as the rocks look to be barely touching. But if you look very close, you may be able to see the tiny notches in which the rocks rest.”

be sure to click the top image to access Michael’s site for more magic. enjoy !

“frenetic bubble generation”

and

petrichor |ˈpeˌtrīkôr|
noun
a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.
ORIGIN 1960s: blend of petro-‘relating to rocks’ (the smell is believed to be caused by a liquid mixture of organic compounds that collects in the ground) and ichor from Greek Mythology: the fluid that flows like blood in the veins of the gods…

frenetic bubbles and what’s one of the nicest smells there is. what’s not to like ?

“when raindrops land on certain porous surfaces, they can trap tiny air bubbles containing small particles, which then shoot upward, into the air. These aerosols are likely responsible for carrying aromatic elements, along with bacteria and viruses stored in the soil,”

for more on this phenomena and yet another aspect of the magic of water, take a deep breath and click HERE

the more i study science the more i believe in magic

i can imagine three possible explanations to this rare beauty and only one makes sense.

'nature gives the finger' ftlow m.fauvet:tlc 22-1-15

– there was nothing above such as a tree or whatever where water could have fallen and frozen stalagmite-like.

– water could have been pushed up from the ground. that’s indeed plausible but by the inner bubble formations it would seem that they expanded outwards from the ice formation’s core and not from the ground.

– fairies made this just for me to force me to question everything i’ve learned and accepted as fact so far. i’ll take this one.

'nature gives the finger 2' ftlow m.fauvet:tlc 22-1-15

Loren Eiseley’s fantastic “If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in Water” quote instantly comes to mind and today’s little discovery couldn’t be a finer example of what she meant. i wonder if she too believes in fairies.

Globules ?

globule |ˈgläbyo͞ol|
noun
a small round particle of a substance; a drop: globules of fat: her globulous eyes.
• Astronomy a small dark cloud of gas and dust seen against a brighter background such as a luminous nebula.
DERIVATIVES
globulous |-yələs| adjective
ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from French, or from Latin globulus, diminutive of globus ‘spherical object, globe.’

whether pronounced in french or english, i’ve always liked how that word just slides off the tongue. how it fits in with todays water gif is anyone’s guess but that’s the magic of being able to make stuff up for the sake of making stuff up. what’s not made up however is the two distinct wave forms coming from opposite directions crossing the main wind-created ‘current’ diagonally.
as it says on TLC’s About page, “If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in water”

ftlow m.fauvet:tlc 12-1-15

for the love of water- The Birth of a Snowflake

Push ! Puuuuuuuuush !!!  😆

apart from floating down with them and watching water transform as we fall through the clouds, this lovely little timelapse documentary by Armand9x is probably as close as we’ll get to actually seeing this happen. enjoy !

thanks

it was a fantastic year on TheLimpCobra and as a meagre attempt to thank all of my faithful readers here’s a little selection of chaotic water-born fire magic.

firewater 2 M.Fauvet:TLC 31-12-13
firewater 4 M.Fauvet:TLC 31-12-13

firewater M.Fauvet:TLC 31-12-13

love,
marc

magic

'curl ftrlow TLC 17-6-13

fly casting- mesmerizing…

this is probably why i’m so enamored by fly casting.
sure, it feels good to do but watching the magic happen through space and time makes all the persistence worth it, more than well worth it.

tumblr_mobl68ZhOa1svp93zo1_250

tumblr_mo8sx6VGCS1svp93zo1_400 extracts from an anonymous giffer of Carl McNeil‘s famous fly casting tutorial dvd and one that i highly recommend, “Casts that Catch Fish”
for more previews click here

a little magic

“This is not a fly fishing film, just relax for a few minutes” will do my friends, thanks for sharing the love.
be sure to watch it in full screen & HD. enjoy !

(somewhat) related articles

The Brown Trout and the Mayfly

by Arnt Mollan at Mollan Media

here’s an absolutely gorgeous 49 minutes of magic to start off your week.  enjoy !

fishflames

by Stanislav Aristov via Chicquero

fishflames

” everyday icons and objects formed from matches burning brightly against a black background – after creating the shapes by bending them mid-burn, he uses a macro lens and studio flash to capture the flame and smoke. “

this brings back a certain magic that anyone who has stared at campfires for a while remembers for life.

cat guts

no need to worry, no pussy was turned inside-out to supply us with this ultra-cool tying material !
“Catgut is tough cord made from the intestines of certain animals, particularly sheep, and used for surgical ligatures and sutures, for the strings of violins and related instruments, and for the strings of tennis rackets and archery bows.”

translucent and as life-like as it gets, sold as a little tube that’s tied in and wrapped around the hook shank,

as in some other things, the real magic happens when it gets wet !

click the pics to get to Lucian’s great step-by-steps, you’ll find catgut here. enjoy !