I once ran a fly-fishing school on the weekends, once
taught a thirteen week accredited course for a university,
formed a FFF chapter, taught with some of the 'great and
near-great,' was certified by FFF, ran a fly-casting school,
did performances at major sports/fly shows, taught
'how to teach' to guides in the Bahamas; I did all of
these things while I was incompetent. Still am, always
probably will be.
There a whole lot of things I don't know about fly-fishing
and all it encompasses, but I can handle myself fairly well
under most of the situations I delve into. I can not twist
up an Australian plait or braid or whatever it's called,
can't do a Bimini twist either, have never needed to use
one and no one has ever asked me to either. If asked about
one, I would simply say I don't know how.
Can I cast a two-handed rod? Not really, I was shown (taught)
about thirty years ago, but have never fished one. I do not
teach it either. Lots of things I can't do.
However when I do teach, I spend the required time with
each person to find out what they want to learn, where
they are going and when. The most important thing I teach
right off is where the restrooms are, and tell them that
may be the most valuable thing they learn all day. Most
folks are only with me a few hours at best, if they want
to go all the way to the double-haul we do it,
presentation can be brought in too but, mostly it's just
how to control the shape of the front and back loop,
how to know when they have made a poor cast and what
caused it and how to fix it, a decent roll-cast, how
to stop the rod to make a fly drop properly, a few knots
and a bit of line mending.
I think today's instructors may know a lot more about
the whole range of fly casting than I do and that's
probably a good thing. But I can only teach just so
much in a one day class, which, at best, most are.
Do casting instructors need to know everything to be competent?
Yes... but mostly just for the region where they are teaching.
So with that in mind, let me say this. When we have
one of our world famous 'Fish-In's' we do not offer
any type of organized instruction. No instructors,
no masters, no guides, just plain folks. Don't get
me wrong here, there is plenty of learning going on
but it is never on a formal basis. There is a lot of
lawn casting, some for distance, some for accuracy
some just to try another guys fly rod. Fly-tying is
going on every evening and sometimes during the day,
not showing off, sharing. Oh yes, we do fish too. It
is all very informal and easy going. And maybe that's
Perhaps it is not really possible to have a 'one size
fits all' kind of program; for casting instruction or
guides either. The solution might be to continue with
instruction just the way it always has been and is
going on these days. Grass-roots stuff. The local club,
fly-tying picnic, opening day, any gathering of fly-fishers,
all just trying to help each other and sharing what ever
they may have whether it is knowledge, equipment or
just good companionship.
~ James Castwell