Styles and Techniques

Styles and Techniques

Paul Arden | Monday, 7 August 2023

Covering for Andy today. I plan to put up a video with John Waters tomorrow, which I can’t do today because I’ve booked four lessons. In fact the next two weeks is flat out coaching for me because… woohoo… I have a fishing guest from Australia joining me on the 19th for six days.

I had a very interesting question today about Lefty. A highly influential instructor and angler of course. I met Lefty around 2006 at the Denver Fly Tackle Dealers Show. Of course me being who I was when I was younger, I had questioned some of his Principles – and to be fair in the early days of Sexyloops they were being quoted on the Board as if they were irrefutable rules; a sort of holy scripture in flycasting.

And so, possibly as a consequence of this, Lefty and I cast together for an hour before the show opened one morning. (I’ve been looking for the photos and I can’t find them – sorry!).

My take on this, is that Lefty’s teaching can be very effective at taking an angler who fishes less often that he/she might, and they can provide a quick fix for a serviceable saltwater cast. That is certainly part of teaching; not everyone wants to be a really excellent caster or is prepared to put in the work, because, if they only fish one or two trips/year, then maybe it’s not the most important thing in the the world for them.

Now of course I would absolutely dispute this, because the entire reason for the evolution of mankind, is so that we humans can go fly fishing. This is why the Universe exists and is the meaning of life. So I would probably steer people more towards this understanding rather than trying to provide quick casting solutions.

But if you are going to attempt to fast track, then Lefty’s cues can work very well. I have used them myself while guiding. Fishing is certainly not the appropriate time to rebuild a stroke, which can take months, and so we modify it the best we can with cues that are both functional and appropriate. It’s a temporary solution so that the big fish has a chance to see our fly that day and not three months later.

A problem with the Oval/Elliptical Cast, Belgian Cast, Gebetsroither, Austrian and Lefty’s well-known cast, which are all similar, is that perfectly straight tracking is extremely difficult or even physically impossible. I did stand behind Lefty to study his tracking!

But that’s not to say that we shouldn’t use these casts, because of course we frequently do! We want to have the ability to cast with the rod in all planes and with the loop in all planes. We want also to be able to change planes between strokes. We want to be able to cast horizontal loops off vertical rod planes, and cast vertical loops both over and under the rod tip in a horizontal casting plane, as well as any and every combination you can think.

That is what we are tying to build. However for guys fishing only 10 times/year, it’s unlikely that they are going to put in the 100 or more hours of casting training that is required to have the skills to be able to cast a variety of different loops on tap. And let’s face it, the majority of anglers, even those fishing 10 days/month, often haven’t trained their casting either!

Lefty could do all of that stuff too of course. He could cast in the vertical plane and cast loops in all planes. If you want to be really good at this game, then that’s something you’ll want to learn too.

I’ll post a video on practising this today and try to find a useful Pic Of Day. Now if I can just get an hour’s sleep, I should be good for the rest of the day :D

Cheers, Paul