This year I watched all fly casting demos besides demoing fly casting and lecturing about fly fishing for pike myself. It was very interesting for me to follow the different styles of demoing. Great demos - lots to learn for sure!
Simon Gawesworth asked me, if I was well prepared for my fly casting demo. I told him to have been perfectly prepared by not having prepared anything at all. He agreed this to be the best preparation one can possibly have for a demo. This may sound a bit weird of course.
But based on many demos I have seen over the past 20 years it really held true in many examples! Those who precisely worked out a fly casting demo word by word on a piece of paper in advance too often struggled to remember every detail and then started searching for the next part while getting nervous. And so did I in my first demos. At some point I then decided to better demo what is in my memory and what comes to mind spontaneously. That way I could not forget what was planned to say next. And that way it also worked much better to make the demo being interactive and fun for the audience. I find it hard to be funny, when trying to remember and working my way thru a written story board. Simon made exactly the same experience though.
Anyway it of course needs a fair amount of routine in teaching fly casting for example to safely bear enough material in mind in order to just choose some of it spontaneously.
In my last front pages I wrote about the most common fly casting and teaching faults. Having those in mind I was asking myself, what are the most common demoing faults?
Here are some:
1. Starting to answer a single spontaneous question coming by one visitor (not having a head set on) among a huge audience without having repeated the question for the whole audience (having the head set on) at first.
2. Explaining one thing while demonstrating quite another thing.
3. Having an audience of maybe 50 visitors staying over a long stretch and having lots of space between them. I recommend asking them to step closer and thus helping to have a much shorter communication distance as well as making it a bit harder for everyone to just leave the demo in between! ;)
4. Not pausing the demo to solve a technical problem first when being on/off/on/off the loud speaker. This often happens when the caster puts the transponder (head set) on the wrong side of the body (having the body between the transponder and the station). It is a nightmare trying to follow the demo under such bad sound. Always worth making time to fix it first!
5. Improper time management. I think it is possible to have a watch ready and self control time management.
6. Repeating the same topic, which has been on within the demo before? If one doesn’t have many topics available, one should make sure what will be on before!
7. Improper body language. Watching the demonstrator to have one hand in his pocket and mostly watching down the floor instead of facing the audience makes him look very uncomfortable and thus leaving a somehow weird feeling for the audience, I think.
8. Aerializing more line length than one can easily control. Talking via head set and smoothly casting at the same time is anything, but not easy! We all have experienced that. So don’t make it extra hard and stay within your controlled length. Makes the demo look much better and really helps for visitors to stop by!
9. Not having put on a serious leader and a fluff. Not having a fluff on and using a too short leader helps to make the final turn over resulting into a nice cracking sound. Who wants to hear that in a demo about how to fly cast!?
10. Stepping around when getting/being nervous and then easily end up staying on the line all the time. If you get nervous, make sure to mostly stay in one position and keep your feet on the ground. This usually helps to get the casting under much better control.
11. This one was given to me by Hywel Morgan some years back when I asked him for the most important parts in order to give proper fly casting demos. Hywel is maybe the best demonstrator I have come across yet. He said: "Never try to be funny, when you aren't." Though statement, but I think it makes a lot of sense. In fact Hywel's demos always were extra fun to watch!
In the end I recommend to always remember the audience mainly will be watching the demonstrator’s loops and listening to his talking. These are the two (main) ways to ship over everything and to built up a proper connection to every visitor.
During the Danish Fly Festival Paul and I were discussing pull-back as it is under discussion on the board right now. We agreed pull-back to start pre rod straight position (thus within the casting stroke) and to end post rod straight position. Fair to say the following animation demonstrates it pretty well:
You may find more information about pull-back in the technical forum right now.
Fishy week to all of you!
All my best