Online Flycasting Coaching

Online Flycasting Coaching

Paul Arden | Sunday, 6 February 2022

Borders are still shut here to International visitors. Which is interesting because 98% of adults and 80% of adolescents are fully vaccinated. Obviously the pandemic has been totally catastrophic in many ways. I would be very surprised if Malaysia opens borders in time for the Snakehead babies season in mid March and I’m looking at what happens if we have another year of International traveller closure. For, as many of you will know, I have two businesses. One is that we manufacture fly rods — Hallelujah — and the other is that we host fly fishing trips for Snakehead and Gourami. Last year I had zero guiding days with guests and the previous year, after borders shut, I had four days only, with locals, instead of a hundred with Internationals!

But there is always a silver lining. At the beginning of last year, following weekly family Zoom lockdown meets (we had the equivalent of a family pub quiz every week, with a different member of the family writing the questions and hosting the quiz), I considered the possibility of using video conferencing for fly casting lessons. I didn’t know if it would work, because it’s obviously quite different to actually standing together, and so I gave a free exploratory lesson to one of my jungle Snakehead guests, who had visited me the first time to improve his casting and had a second trip cancelled when the first lockdown occurred. The results were promising and he booked a course of a dozen lessons with me.

Now I don’t think either of us realised how effective this would be. When Michael finished those twelve lessons he immediately booked another 12 and he has actually had over 20 lessons with me now. One year on, 21 lessons in, with plenty of focussed practise time and he is an excellent caster. Truly excellent!

I also started picking up more guests, all over the world, from Europe, Australia, North America. There are some really great things to be said in favour of teaching this way. The first is that it is just so convenient. All my students go to where they normally practise and there is little or no wasted travel time. Consequently they book a course.  I’ve never had anyone book ten lessons with me before, in 25 years of coaching, but now everyone books a course!

This leads to the second advantage. You don’t have a one-off lesson, you have ten (in my case 12) lessons spread out over many months. That changes how you teach. You know, in one lesson you can make improvements, and often put things into place for subsequent improvements. But in ten lessons you really get to shape the journey.

I’ve just started two more students this week and have five on-going at the moment. I only give one lesson/day. Maximum two. If you do any teaching you will know why! However even so, something else is coming out of this, I’ve realised that I’m often repeating the same things, which is not totally surprising of course! It would be not-very-much work to tightly structure the lessons and have a nice after-video to share with the student after every meeting. (I currently regularly share videos made for past students with current students). Then it becomes less work and even I could do more than one lesson/day and not feel that I’m unduly overtaxing myself!

I’m actually at the point now, where I have to write down my student's progress and keep notes. Otherwise there is the risk that I confuse them.

So while it’s not the cut and thrust and excitement of Snakehead guiding, which is my passion, it’s been both thoroughly interesting and educational for me; I am a far better instructor for it. No question at all. It is also very enjoyable because you get to see the same friendly faces every week, or every other week, and actually see their progress. Brilliant; this tool will transform flycasting coaching.

Limitations? Well obviously you have to have done online coaching and video analysis. I think you have to have done a lot of coaching full stop. Because you cannot put your hand through the screen and cast with them! Also you can’t see everything, all at the same time. And there are times when I rely on students feedback over what is happening. You have to have “substance” to teach. My substance is body movement. Spey Casting is very difficult, but equally Spey Casting takes a long time to learn, but from my perspective, I would like to see a lot more of the line. I’ve given one CCI pre-test. He was a strong pass. I would find a borderline candidate difficult. So there are things that are definitely better done in-person.

The ideal scenario would be one in-person lesson followed by 5 remote lessons, and repeated regularly. But my clients are all over the world and none are local. The closest is Hong Kong which is 1,500 miles away! So it’s been an eye-opener for me.

If you are interested in a course it’s £300 for 6 lessons and £500 for 12 lessons. Drop me an email on for more details. It will never replace guiding for me, but equally I can’t just sit here twiddling my thumbs either :)))

Have a great Sunday! I’ll be back on Tuesday.

Cheers, Paul