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05/04/03 - Proven by Fools

Tell me who has found themselves: is it the old woman who smiles with the cherry blossoms or the politicians waging war?

Flyfishermen notice these things.

On the road, off the road

So, back from my travels. Still expected to be on the road, even now, and I'm hoping to be back on the road again by June. Denmark's next of course, and there's a trip to Ireland to look forward to, but that's not “travelling”; travelling is something you do over an extended period, without really knowing where you are going or – for that matter – where you've been. However what I've been doing recently is working on my casting.

The problem with Christianity incidentally, is that they believe in heaven. If on the other hand you believed that you were coming back, you'd worry more about this place. I know one thing, given the choice of going to heaven or coming back, I'd come back. The women are better.

It might surprise you to hear that I practice flycasting, after all I teach it, and so must be fairly competent, but therein lies the secret you see. All good flycasters practice, and the better they are the more they practice. It's a bit like being a professional athlete – Peter Sutton is a good example actually, because he combines the abilities of both – you must train. In fact just to stand still and maintain instructor level flycasting abilities takes about one hour each day, seven days a week. I do more of course, but I have to.

Many of the people I teach already spend one hour each day casting, and more when they decide they're are coming to see me. You can't charge some dude 40 quid if he's going to outcast you. I mean although Mel Krieger says that the aim of any good instructor is that his pupil surpasses him, it's not something you really want to happen, and if it does the pupils none too happy either and feels ripped off. So I make sure I'm tuned up; it avoids unnecessary embarrassments.

Of course if all you are going to do is keep coming back to the same world, which you believe is going to continue on indefinitely, it may begin to lose its sparkle. So let's make it incomprehensible as well. And a bit seedy.

If I'm doing a show I'll spend even more time on my casting, putting in three to five hours per day in the preceding week. Note that this is pure casting time and not fishing time. I put in a hell of a lot more hours fishing than casting, and that's how it should be. I make money flycasting, fly fishing is what I do for fun, and is therefore more important.

When in the UK, every couple of weeks or so, there's a shoot out. There's one this weekend for example. Pete, Jon and Carl will all be making their way down to my house, for a day of ferocious casting. Jon is going to try to outcast me, he's been trying to do this ever since I mastered his technique and used it to outcast him, and no doubt he'll have some new tricks of his own, just as I have some new tricks of my own. There is beer at stake and so it's important. Pete will no doubt be bringing down his shooting heads, he always wins with those, so I have to make sure that there's more full flylines and in particular some double tapers around (I always win with double tapers). Carl's never been to one of these; it will be interesting to have some new blood to spill.

I've never told anyone this, although I suspect that Jon knows it already, but I work bloody hard on my casting to try to stay in front (the first time Jon came down he beat me). In the last shoot outs of 2002 I was lucky. Very lucky. This weekend is unknown territory, for I know that Jon has been working hard on his casting.

So – our universe is beyond understanding, I mean ok we can work stuff out, like how things are put together, and how things work, and that's all very interesting of course, and an enjoyable thing to do, but the question of why it is so, and indeed why there is a universe in the first place, becomes a little more complicated. Which is why Peter brings along his shooting heads of course. No one knows why Pete casts shooting heads further than everyone else. He'll say it's because that's the way things are: life is like that – but I believe there's a greater reason; I think he practices casting shooting heads and we don't.

At the risk of sounding like a American advertisement, when I practice, I make my practice time work for me. You too can change your stroke in five easy steps, by mastering the Paul Arden patented Flip Flop methodology of practise flycasting, as used by top flight flycasting pro's in over seventy-three states worldwide. With only 3 simple twenty-minute work outs each week, you'll find flycasting easier; you'll have a more comfortable flycasting stroke, reversing the effects of hair-loss, finding flycasting fun (image of people with artificial smiles hopefully springs to mind) and all by following these simple fool-proof flycasting performance bullet points:

1 don't bugger about only trying to cast as far as possible. Work on 10 yard pick-up-and-lay-down casts, into a saucer. No hauling. (Note well: I name casts after shoes; the establishment names casts after dating techniques)

2 practice false casting with minimum power using a short 8-yard length of line. Use so little power that the line fails to unroll, and then add a bit. Still without hauling.

(You will discoverer the ability to flycast further than you're wildest dreams. Start the Paul Arden patented Flip Flop methodology of practise flycasting program today and receive not one but two indispensable things you never knew even existed - such as a "fish pimp")

3 same as 2 but with hauling, tightening up the loops and extending line (both side casting and over the top – I find side casting a great way to tighten up loops, apart from which, all my river fishing is over the side).

4 chuck in some longer casts, a couple of rolls and you're ready to begin.

5 When practicing, work on one or two things. It could be distance, in which case work on tracking, hauling, drifting, power application or sticking your bum out. Maybe work on presentation casts. Otherwise something that you've been neglecting, such as backhand switch casting. What you mustn't do is work on everything.

You never knew flycasting could be so easy, and you won't get fingered by the instructor ever again.”

This year I'll be working on three things: distance casting, left-handed casting and subsidiary line control in the air.

In distance casting I've discovered that for me it works far better if break down the stroke further and only apply maximum power after the butt has reached the perpendicular. I'm going to work on this because ideally I'd like to be sticking a 5-weight 120 ft. Some of the board members pass this mark, and I'd like to keep up at least :)

Left handed casting is different, I'm actually quite a respectable caster off the left now, you know tight loops, reasonable distance, half-decent switch cast, but I recognise that if I was better still, I'd catch more fish. And so it's worth the work. This is aside from any enhanced teaching ability that it may give, which is undoubtedly the case.

“Subsidiary line control in the air” is just sexy stuff, you know like “snaps on speys”.

The Wall

I'm finishing this newsletter from the dam wall at Grafham. Sean is sitting down in front of me, fishing, and curiously, adopting a Buddha like pose. It's been a struggle today, but I've managed three fish so far on that highly imitative pattern: the egg-sucking leech (lots of those at Grafham). Earlier we bumped into Henry Lowe, which was great because he's almost persuaded me to buy a season ticket. It's very tempting, especially since my new bank manager doesn't understand that one's leisure time, or fishing in fact, should always be put before money. Being a bank manager and all, you'd have thought he'd have been interested in this concept, but in fact he says he's not interested in the slightest, money makes the world go round Paul and I should work harder. So I'm thinking of buying a season ticket and a van and living between Grafham, Ravensthorpe, Rutland and Pitsford. Of course I'd rather spend my summer in the US, and still might. It's an interesting situation and I reckon I'll have to decide this week. Problems, problems, problems... :)

We're working hard to bring you the “New Deal”. There are a number of other things going on as well, as you'd expect from a site like this, and it is our considered opinion that we're seen as a wild card; and it's true: Sean still doesn't wear a lifejacket – but he did notice the hawthorn were in flower today.

This week: Tomorrow Sean writes Fishmail, Mike continues his Road Kill series, I'll drop something into the Flow and, fingers crossed, there will be a movie on Friday. An excitement packed week – and that's just the stuff we're going to tell you about!

Cheers, Paul

Ps we had a smashing day in the end, with a quite respectable evening rise – for this time of year :)

Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting superglue on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills part 17a; the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite important
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
The finished fly: A Lunn's Particular

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