Paul Arden | Monday, 6 November 2017

Matt wrote an excellent FP yesterday on the mess that the old AFTMA system has become. And it really is complete nonsense, labelling a line that weighs an 8WT at 30 feet as a 6WT? And the problem is two fold IMO 1) most anglers shop rod first and then look for a line to match and 2) the level of casting amongst many irregular anglers can be pretty abysmal. And so there you have it, crappy casters buying rods that are too stiff, consequently many line manufacturers make lines that are now heavier than standard... where will it end?

One thing I disagree with in Matt's FP is that if you are regularly making short casts you should (or can) use a heavier line. This is simply not true, a well-designed flyrod will be comfortable flicking just the leader around and should feel very nice with a short length of the correct AFFTA line weight outside the tip - assuming (and this is the problem) that the caster has the ability to modify his stroke. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you feel the need to upline your rod in order to make it function in the way it should, then you have bought the wrong rod!

It is certainly the case that there are rods on the market that I believe are too stiff for their rated line number - many of them appear in the "Salt Water" market - but on the most part I believe it's because anglers (not Sexyloopers of course) are buying rods with the idea that fast and stiff is the hallmark of a good caster and because they can't cast the bloody thing end up requiring heavier lines to make them work. This incidentally is one reason why I believe that crappy fibreglass rods have made a resurgence, simply because many anglers have been buying stiff graphite rods when they would be better off purchasing softer rods or learning a better casting stroke.

There are two solutions to this; 1) practise your fly casting - the video tutorials right now will take you to Intermediate level of fly casting. Yes you can and probably should get a fly casting lesson as well, but it's also quite possible to teach yourself (as the vast majority of fly casting instructors have done). So get out there and practise your flycasting. Hell it is fun! and 2) buy the line first and rod second. The advantages of different line weights are mostly fishing related. A light 4WT line is great for small streams or any time you want delicate casting. You can fish small flies smaller than size 20 if required, and fine tippets. The line lands softly and is highly sensitive to takes. A 6WT is more of an all-round trouty rod, being able to cast heavier tungsten nymphs, light streamers, multiple flies and still lands quite gently. An 8WT can chuck a Popper or a Clouser, doesn't land like a thistledown but doesn't need to. A 10WT can chuck something considerably larger and heavier, doesn't allow you to fish light tippets but it's for fishing for SW, Pike, Giant Snakehead.

The real goal is to use the lightest line that will comfortably project and turn over your fly. Your line weight is not what is written on the box, but is in fact what the first 30 feet (after the first 2ft of level tip) weighs. So if your "4WT" marked box contains a line that weighs what a 6WT line should weigh, then you are fishing a 6WT with all the advantages and disadvantages that this line weight gives. Of course the rod will handle it, every flyrod that has even been produced will cast every line weight from 1 to 15 but it has been optimised for one particular line class. It's not been optimised for casting with 30 feet of line outside the tip, but has been designed with fly fishing in mind, which means being able to cast just the leader and fly, increasing lengths of line, 1ft, 2ft, 3ft etc all the way through to a long carry using a long belly or DT line. There is a video of a strange bald bearded man explaining this in the attached video today.

I would thoroughly recommend buying a DT line that conforms to AFFTA standard to see how a line should behave. All these overweight "brick on a string" type flylines are IMO totally crap for beginners who want to learn to cast. Of course they have a use, but not a general fishing purpose use, but very specialised uses, such a fishing very heavy flies in gorges when you can't make a backcast. For casting dry flies to stream trout they are exactly the wrong thing you should be using - because they are crap. Yes really!

I've been trying to buy Double Taper sinking lines - and do you know the only place I can find them? China! None of the major US manufacturers make DT sinking lines any more. Anyway that's a digression, why anyone would buy a top of the range high-performance fly rod, and then line it up with a "brick on a string" type fly line is beyond me. It really does all come down to one thing - if you can cast really well then you will be in a far better position to catch fish, and have more fun doing so. And everyone - well almost everyone - has the ability to be a very fine caster indeed. Fly casting is not rocket science or particularly difficult, it's mostly just technique and practise. I know that there are some weird instructors out there who don't fish but on the most part those are a bit of a rarity. All you actually need to do, however, is to practise. The best you can ever do is join a flycasting club. Next best is actually getting some lessons from an experienced instructor. But none of this works unless you practice and develop your fly casting skills. It s a lot of fun, believe me. And there is not one good fly caster on this planet who has not dedicated considerable time to working on his or her casting.

You probably need some goals, that's what I'm currently working on. A set of goals you can practise that will make you a better flyfisherman. Well if that's you, wanting to become a better flyfisherman (because it most certainly is me and just about everyone else I know) then you have definitely come to the right place! In the meantime please watch and PRACTISE our Video Flycasting Classes and bring yourself up to Double Haul level. ALL the drills and casts in the manual are your building blocks. I don't know how many hours I've practised just the Pick-up and Lay-down (PUALD) cast for example. Of course when you practise this one it's best to have both water and a target. Smooth, no disturbance, tight loops, minimal force, straight line into the target, again and again and again...

A lot of the really good flycasting teams are from Northern Europe where it's too cold to fish in the winters. About the only fishing available is ice-fishing and while I have been ice-flyfishing it's not particularly productive. Why are these Northern Europeans amongst the very best, you wonder? It's because they dedicate their winters to flycasting practice. So if you don't practise your flycasting then please start. You will receive lots of help from us - especially through our discussion forums, the Board! The essence of being a good fly fisherman is to first be a good fly caster.

I take people fishing for Snakehead and sometimes they say "well it wasn't very good" to which I think (and often say), "well none of the fish actually saw your fly!" Which has been true, either the fly went in the wrong place or arrived too late, or not at all. If the fish doesn't see your fly then it can't eat it. I've heard stories that NZ is a difficult fishery. Yes it is - if you can't cast! But if you can cast it's quite a remarkable fishery and one thing it is most certainly not is difficult. If you want a difficult fishery then go and fish a hard-fished water in Europe - there the fishing is "technical". But it is true that in NZ you want to make the first cast count because that's your best shot. And if you can't throw a decent line, with a two or three flies, including weighted ones, on a 20ft leader, placing the fly accurately without lots of air casting, into the right spot first time, then don't even bother going until you can! Why spend all that money only to be frustrated? There is very little need for slack-line casts in NZ. In the Balkans every nymph cast is a slack line cast (unless you are French Nymphing of course).

Right - to other things. More videos going into the Video Manual this week. There are 64 of these in total, and I have ideas to develop some more too. It's been raining a fair bit the past few days here in North Malaysia, in the future I will enjoy this time of year, and will be able to fish hard for Jungle Perch in stream mouths as the lake levels are rising. But I need a houseboat for this, because two and a half to three months of living and sleeping in a wet condom is really no fun at all. The plan is to visit Tasmania in Dec and January, based in Miena on the Great Lake. Please do visit for a cast, fish, beer. I'll have the complete Hot Torpedo series of rods with me - properly lined with AFFTA conforming flylines so you can see how a rod and line should really cast.

And finally, if you haven't already, and are keen to develop your flycasting - as you should be - then the very first thing you should do is join our discussion Board here, right away, and introduce yourself. In order to join you will need to send me an email with the username you want. It's undoubtedly one of the best steps you will ever make; over the past 19 years we've had countless beginners join and many are instructors now. This week I'll fix the old discussion Board, it didn't migrate well but the database is intact!

Lots happening - check back later today, Bill's 5 Essentials video is coming up for Intermediate students. Money Mouth

Have a fantastic week everyone!

Cheers, Paul