Ironically there is something very grounding about flycasting whilst up a ladder. The other interesting thing about it is that you can see into your neighbour's garden. The somewhat dubious benefits of this newfound ability are considerably outweighed by the fact that they can also see you. And you are now up a ladder, flycasting.
It can be pretty hard to explain flyfishing at the best of times: “What, you catch fish? On flies? And then you put them back? Why?” “Yeah I know… life huh? Weird”
Flycasting over grass in an area where there isn't even any water and certainly no fish, making the catching of one almost as unlikely as hooking up with one in the salt, gets somewhat trickier to explain away. “What ya doing dude?” “S&M stuff”
Flycasting up a ladder is a complete non-starter.
Fortunately from my limited experience on the subject, I have found explanations to be unnecessary. People just watch, possibly in awe, I think.
Of course it's not a very useful technique in terms of having any practical application. As nice as it is to be able flycast from a great height (and it's certainly a prerequisite for any potential Mugwai Hunter) I don't think I'll be taking it to Rutland later this week; “No Sean, no need for a boat today; I've brought my ladder”
Naturally I'm after some particularly groundbreaking video footage or if not groundbreaking then I'll just go for unique and yesterday as it happens, I finally caught the action. This week I may just change how you think about flycasting.
Last week Ian Walker, after sending me his MPEGS, wrote that he'd never seen himself cast before and it was a bit like hearing himself talk and now that he's experienced both, he'd recommend everyone go out and spend 200 dollars on a rod and 500 on a camcorder. He's right. It's turned my casting upside down. You can be pretty sure that you're doing something completely different to what you think you're doing. Of course Ian hasn't cast up a ladder yet and still has this experience to look forward to.
This really has been a casting week for me, partly because I'm still experimenting with the video camera but also because I've decided to sit the European Federation of Fly Fishers examination. The EFFF Masters Exam is the hardest instructor's exam out there. There's a 30 metre overhead cast and a 22 metre switch amongst other things. 30 metres doesn't sound like very much until you buy an inch tape. If you thought casting up a ladder was grounding you should try out the tape measure.
So I'm up for it (quite literally). When I applied they said that I could take the Masters and not the Basic since I'm AAPGAI qualified and would I mind giving a couple of demonstrations for the Fly Fair while I'm about it. So on the 21st and 22nd of September, if you're about the Netherlands, I'll be giving a casting demo Flip-flop style :-)
The curious thing about the EFFF Masters is that I got it into my head that there was a 25 metre left handed cast involved. This could be a bit of a problem if you're a right-handed dude like I am. So I worked on it and every time I've met an instructor recently I've asked for a quick lesson. Finally I'm getting there and have cracked the 100 foot mark – which is considerably more than 25 metres, and I'm really thrilled about (thanks especially to Pete Sutton). Of course now that this has clicked, I have discovered that I've only got to cast 15 metres after all.
Funny thing this left handed stuff; it's an incredibly difficult thing to master. And I'm not sure why; after all it's still my hand and not someone else's. A scrum half friend of mine, when learning to pass the ball to his right, told me that he mastered it by doing all the things he'd normally do with his right hand using his left. I'm not going to go into all the sordid details (he was a rugby player after all) but Peter was right on the money last weekend.
Another strange thing about the left hand is it's really good at the double haul whilst the right hand is crap. I'm sorry but what the hell is that? I can understand why my right hand is good at casting (it's because my right eye is predominant – and BTW have you ever tried casting with just your left eye open, that's another thing that's hard, in fact it's also really hard with just your right eye open too. I know, I know, I've just got far too much time on my hands) but I just can't figure it why my right hand doesn't want to haul properly.
Incidentally, if you are interested in mastering this other hand stuff, the best piece of advice is to cast with two rods simultaneously (one in each hand). You feel like you're a gunslinger of course but you pick it up pretty quick. For example it's only taken me 10 years.
Last Friday instructor Ray King came over for a bit of intensive ladder flycasting practise. He's the guy responsible for the Dude with a Hat video footage. Check out that page for advice on Switch casting. He seemed a bit surprised by the ladder accessory, said he wasn't too sure it would catch on and where could he buy one like it if it did?
Yesterday Jon Allen came around with an inch tape. Jon's a distance caster and a good one; he's been winning most of the competitions in the UK this year and takes it seriously. Whenever I cast with him I learn something new. Yesterday I discovered something that I hadn't realised before… namely that the double taper line might have a thing or two going for it after all. This has come as quite a disturbing fact to me and I shall be investigating further. Of greater disturbance however was the inch tape.
Over the last week I have been writing a contents page for Sexyloops. This has proved far more difficult than I had originally thought and was responsible for a bit of heated discussion between Steve and myself. Basically I didn't want to write something that would involve climbing up my arse.
Steve said, “Paul, I'm not asking you to climb up your arse but I do think that you should write something that reflects the site's contents, after all this is the contents page”
I said, “But is it Steve? It's only a contents page in our minds; if we stop thinking it will disappear and then where will we be?”
Steve said, “It won't disappear because I'll have uploaded it by then thank-you-so-very-much”
Steve was enlightened at the age of 33 when he fell off a ladder.
This Internet is a strange thing isn't it? I suppose it was while writing the contents page that I really got to reflect upon it. Sexyloops is now a pretty big site, perhaps the second largest flyfishing site going and it's certainly the biggest in Europe. Most weeks now we figure that we might be the busiest in Europe, we're the only guys doing this every day and get this: we're not even that sure why it is we do it.
It's probably for the chicks.
Of course I'm just really lucky. I've got Steve working with me night and day over in Switzerland, there's Sean and his weekly column, Ben's surrounded by feathers and women (he says) and the Sexyloops bulletin board is well known for the high quality of its discussions and membership (I know that I in particular have learnt an awful lot in the last year through these discussions).
So guys, if I fall off the ladder tomorrow, I want you to know that it's been nice knowing you all. Failing this dramatic conclusion I should have some interesting casting videos up this week :-)