I'm about to leave the UK and I may be some time. It's been a good season; actually it's been a great season and a necessary one. So far as Sexyloops goes there's been none better, but this living in one place, doing “normal” stuff; it's not what I really want to do. I've tried it before and frankly it sucks.
“Build a home, find a wife, plant a tree, get a job, do what you're told and become like us” – yeah, like I'm going to fall for that one. Funny how people think they know best all the time – they don't know who they are or what they're doing but somehow they think they know what you should be doing. Create your own fantasy world guys – the spell's your delusion – I'm going fishing :-)
I'll need flies then.
I haven't told anyone this, but I'm going on a long, extended and arduous flyfishing trip, one I'm going to call “life” and I'm taking Sexyloops on the road with me. Sexyloops was all about this in the first place: you know, a means of supporting me in a mad cross-world womanising fish-chase. I had nothing to lose: if it didn't work, I'd go fishing and if it did work, I'd go fishing. Seemed like a sure thing to me. Anyway it works and so I'm going fishing.
Gonna need a rod.
But what a fantastic season it's been; sure not many fish – that's true and even to the extent where some people were starting to think that I was one of those “strange people” who just cast and didn't fish (you know like flyfishing isn't strange enough). Anyway I only do that when surrounded by stocked rainbow trout, and even then not always – hey this is going to be one of those newsletters! So, I've been around a bit, seen different parts of Europe (the bits I don't normally see) but the really good thing has been the casting.
Some socks (look out).
I've been involved in a number of casting shootouts this summer. Today was another and probably the last for a while. We were three: there was Jon Allen (distance casting specialist), Pete Sutton (shooting head dude, puller and AAPGAI) and me (might need two pairs) – there was an air of adventure; none of us should really have been allowed near a flyrod and the three of us casting together was sure to be dangerous or illegal or both.
Jon and I have had quite a few of these shootouts. Jon came over for a lesson early this year. He rang up to ask whether I could teach him anything. I said I'd try and if he felt I hadn't succeeded then I wouldn't charge him – he'd had lessons before, with other instructors, and felt a bit ripped off.
Flip-flops, boots and an empty film canister.
The mind's a funny thing; when a thought pops up I tend to go along with it – it's something I believe in and it can get me into an awful lot of trouble at times, especially with women – and so when, after the lesson (which he paid for incidentally:-)), the thought popped up that I should invite Jon to work on distance casting with me, I said it and, boy, was that a good move!
Jon's been over about half a dozen times and every time I've learned a ton of new stuff. The first occasion blew me away, when he out-cast me on the shootout (five casts, longest one counts, against the tape, stand back now). Sure Jon goes around winning all sorts of distance competitions but I still thought I could take him. After that experience I had a total rethink. Today in fact I have just learned the most remarkable thing about my backcast, something, which I had never realised before, and I can now see a way of radically improving my overhead cast. You don't expect radical improvements in casting, not when you teach it. This newsletter may actually change your life.
One cheese sandwich (for the airport).
And then there's Pete. Pete and I have known each other for quite a few years through the APGAI and various Gamefairs. I gave a demo earlier this year to his club's open day up north, in Norfolk, where he found out that I was offering free lessons to all STANIC instructors. To be honest I started doing this because I felt guilty about slating them. I'd said bad things about the STANIC and suddenly I thought, “Maybe these guys really believe in what they're doing and I've just said their casting misses the mark and they're into bondage – hell I'm into bondage.” And so my conscience got the better of me and I offered them free lessons.
I figured that anyone taking up this offer would be interested in flycasting, have an open mind and in all likelihood I'd learn something new myself, or at least about myself. I've had one STANIC taker, one other enquiry and a rather large number of AAPGAI (who I wouldn't charge anyway – nothing pleases me more than spending the day casting with an AAPGAI instructor – well, nothing apart from cheese). I just don't figure it; I devote a very large amount of my time and energy in trying to become a better caster and instructor, a couple of hours a day at least, I find flycasting fascinating and I thought that other instructors – of no matter what level – would share this thirst for knowledge. Just goes to show: I know nothing.
Anyway, Peter does and he booked a lesson way back in June. It was through Pete (and largely Ian's comments on the board) that I finally grasped the techniques behind the shooting head and he's been down a couple of times but he'd never been down for a shootout.
“What's it like Paul?”
“Pretty ugly actually: bring a 12-weight – Jon fights dirty”
Three miles of tippet material, two T-shirts and a reindeer skin.
There's something about the inchtape; it's only when you lay one out and cast along it, do you really find out just how well you're doing – you know in the real world. Now, I know that casting isn't just about distance, but distance is pretty much just about technique, which says it all. It's all very well to say I tried X technique and it really sings baby-o; it's quite another to try X against Y and along the tape – then you know.
Jon has the expression “hooking one up” – it seems to be the case during these shootouts, that every once in a while one of us will get everything just right and the line will really fly. When this happens Jon says that we've “hooked one up” and he says it with significance. Everyone gets this of course, but when you're measuring them out you take note and spend the rest of the time trying to work what you did – we're trying to put together all the pieces here and we're still finding new ones, so we're not just playing about at it (although we are of course – because that's how you learn) and we're discovering new stuff – like the rod is unloading when you're hauling; that was new and people still don't believe it – even though it's here, on site.
Here comes something else: virtually all my backcasts have been out of plane.
Quite often I look behind me in order to position the backcast and I've been getting it all wrong: my backcast is not 180 degrees to my forward cast – as it should be and as I thought it was – but nearer 160 degrees and this is not just a casting fault but, as I now believe, a natural human fault (see how I blame my crap casting on Mother Nature and not technique – that's professional that is). Try this, right now, without a rod and without thinking: make a backcast and look where you've have directed it. Now take note of what object you have just stuck off behind you, then take an object directly in line with the front of your hand (getting complicated now) and I'll bet you that your backcast is off to your right and not directly over your shoulder as it should be (unless you are left-handed or Ian Walker).
Two pairs of underpants (for hot fresh coffee).
I don't have this problem with the flip-flop style, but it comes up when really going for it – you know, shoot out, look out and duck – and I'm doing it naturally. I reckon it's got to do with my left eye and nose being out of place or getting in the way or something like that. In fact, standing in a field, I can't tell you at which object my backcast should be aimed – try that out: I bet you have wonky eyes too.
Jon and I tried casting along a straight line – one that travels both in front and behind – amazing stuff; you really can't believe you eyes. When I sort this out I reckon I'll (a) start to “hook up” with more casts – I really want to hook up with them all of course – and (b) have better accuracy. I believe this is a very common fault incidentally, one with which I was fully aware, but failed to realise that I might have (I suppose it's a bit like herpes) – even though I'd looked for it and been acutely aware of tracking faults and the problems associated with various different sexual partners.
A coffee plunger.
I'm really excited about this because I now have something to really work on.
This will probably be the last “casting" newsletter for a while (thank God).
There is, however, one other fault to fix. This is something that's been discovered by Steve's wife, Jacqueline. Jacqueline teaches the Alexander Technique and has been studying my flycasting from an AT perspective. I have a problem that's inhibiting my stroke: I sometimes slump the left hand side of my body and tense up the right shoulder. I've been told to try casting without the use of the line hand; instead holding this arm directly up in the air. This straightens up my back, immediately giving a squarer loop. Curiously I also change feet position. So I'll be destroying my cast in New Zealand to incorporate this newfound knowledge.
Both of these things will be making their way into the Dirty Harry series.
Right, I'm off to do some more packing. Remember we change the front page seven days a week and there are now four regular writers on board and be sure to check out The Dragon ;)
ps I won't *really* be packing for another eight days, I always leave in a rush - that way I get to carry less... :-)