The Evolution of being an Instructor

The Evolution of being an Instructor

Paul Arden | Monday, 15 March 2021

If you want a fly casting lesson I teach via Zoom from Saturday through Tuesday (sometimes Wednesday). The rates are 60GBP/hr. However you can book a six lesson block @ 50GBP/hr or even book a 10 lesson block @50GBP/hr and get two more for free! I’ll be doing this until International travel is allowed again into and out of Malaysia and then I’m back to teaching/guiding/hosting fly fishing trips in the jungle. So get it while it’s hot!

Over on the Board I had some great advice last week on adapting my popper flies for Snakehead to increase hook-ups, which is what I’m working on at the moment. We always are happy to see new members on the Sexyloops Board, so if you fancy getting involved then fire me an email.

As always you can email me on

And that interesting discussion on fly design on the Board can be found here:


It’s interesting how we develop as instructors. Mark Stoatstail asked me what I’ve changed in my lessons since when I first started 25 years ago and I replied “absolutely everything” which is understatement of the year!

My first lessons were in retrospect quite appalling. In improving my casting to become an instructor I’d read Péter MP’s Fly Casting Handbook and pretty much taught what I had learned there.

Later, after meeting Mel K, I suppose my teaching improved and I pretty much taught many of the things Mel taught which resulted in me “Flip-flopping”!

But I have to say in my defence that these were the “Dark Ages” in fly casting instruction. There was no Internet and so information was limited to what we learned from our peers, both directly and in the few books that were available and also what we learned ourselves through our own casting and teaching. (These were my busiest times as an instructor with about 20hrs/week through the first half of the season). 

The Internet has completely changed all of that. And to a large degree the Sexyloops Board and its many contributors around the world has been responsible for this. If you were around on the Board 20 years ago you will know this because the level of understanding in our first discussions was dreadful!

So nowadays my instruction focusses on different things. I still mostly teach Intermediate level casting and above. But I focus on three techniques: Closed Stance Accuracy, Open Stance Distance and 170. I also teach the “hard”/abrupt Stop, Stopless and Pull-back. This is my standard build nowadays for teaching the overhead cast.

I’m much more focused on developing long term ability, utilising practise drills and play.

I believe that in order to learn really good technique you need to have two different approaches at a minimum.  That could be the differences between closed and open stance for example. It could mean focusing on a fixed style through “mirroring technique” vs playing around with putting a style together using different components.

I think one of the most important things that I do nowadays, when appropriate, is ask the student what we’ve covered and to explain it back to me. That’s always very enlightening!

I wish I had known all this stuff 25 years ago! I’m a very long way from working it all out. And I don’t think we ever do; just like fishing, it’s always evolving. I also suspect that if you were to ask me in another 25 years how was I doing now I will also answer “bloody awful”! And I certainly hope so. I’m actually very curious to see how flycasting instruction develops over the next 25 years.

I believe that Casting Sport will eventually change casting instruction (indeed this was always the case, for example the Double Haul was a result of competition). I find it fascinating that the same resistance that some anglers put up to casting instruction is the same resistance that many casting instructors put up to casting sport. When ultimately good casting technique transcends all three. 

Right, I’m running late. I have to buy supplies today and head back to the battleship. Lessons tomorrow and Wednesday. We have a Sungai Tiang project meeting with the villagers on Wednesday too and then Thursday/Friday I disappear offline for a few days down the lake.

Have a great week!

Cheers, Paul