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October 9th, 2000

Alternate Teaching Method - (Not)
By James Castwell

First off, there are probably as many methods of teaching casting as there are teachers. That said, lets take a look at a possible set of elements for teaching a newcomer how to properly cast a fly rod.

At no point confuse him with statements referring to 'line-control.' Stay with the time tested phrases about how to cast the rod. Remember, these guys are new and obviously are not as bright as you. After all, you learned how to fly-fish by yourself, you didn't need some 'instructor' to show you how. Try emphasizing 'casting the rod,' this will keep their mushy little minds focused on casting it and not stopping it.

A constructive and emotion controlling devise is the 'finger in the air' exercise. They have no idea how silly they look pointing at the sky, then back, then forward and back and forward. Really gives an instructor a feeling of importance and control. This is always good to get the actual casting part started. You may recommend they all wear some type of eye protection as an occasional 'thumb in the eye' accident often arises.

On that point, rely heavily on a time honored devise called, 'the pickup and lay down.' Repeat mantra type stuff, "Pick it up, now lay it down," some of it may soak in. This results in large arm movements, nice big open loops, avoids the tailing-loop all together and gets a bit of line on the grass. Encouraging to any who are impressed with thirty feet of fly line. Do not mention confusing elements at this point as most will be content with a few hours of whipping the rod to and fro and will gladly sign up for the intermediate class next week. You can always use the extra cash. Make the class a bit like a government-type job, make sure you do not get anything really accomplished as that may complete the program and you will be out of a job. Never teach today what you can hold back for another time.

Never let the 'newbys' have a clue where the restroom is, if they can't hold their coffee until lunch, tough. If they got bored with your two hour lecture in the morning and drank too much, they should have known better. Rapidly changing foot positions is not a bad thing for a beginner to learn anyway.

At this point, take absolute control and grab any rod, preferably your pet rod, strip all the line off down to the backing, ( no cheating here with a 67 foot fly line ) and in as perfect an imitation of a real athlete, pitch as much line as you can. A word here, rip a double-haul into the cast making sure no one sees it, even if they do, they will not recognize it though, and at the end of the cast, smartly raise your rod tip making a great amount of line which did not go out, seem to have and complain that they should make longer fly lines for you. Never attempt to teach the double-haul on the first, second or third class, make money on that honey, save it for the 'expert' level class. (The real high-priced one.)

This' intimidation factor' as it is called in the higher circles of casting instructors will leave them knowing that there is no way they will ever be as good as you and they might just as well give up any idea they may have had of becoming expert. Walk calmly to the side lines and announce, "there, that's the way to do it, now lets see you try it." Your 'on stage performance will have been a great hit.'

The big circular motion most have is from using spinning rods and should not be interfered with, as they may need to stay with that sport to be able to catch anything anyhow. It will be obvious they are not going to be fast learners as you had already suspected. That very same motion is, of course, the one you instruct for the 'roll-cast' anyhow. Terms like, "just chop the head off a turkey," that is a good visual and will implant it forever. Don't forget to mention the use for the roll-cast as well. That they will often need it when fishing with steep cliffs and trees right behind them. This picture always breeds confidence. If possible, make sure most have rods which are a bit too big, or too small for them. You know, give the ladies the eight weights and the guys the fours. Everyone likes a challenge and the 'comic-relief' will help break up your otherwise dull day. Anyone can learn on a rod properly sized for them; let them learn that one! Besides, the blisters will heal in time.

Make sure you get their respect (Mike Croft art)

Be careful you don't give away any of your 'proprietary teaching secrets.' This is very important as they may be seen and then stolen and used by some other teacher without you having been given credit. When possible, try to regale them all with very detailed accounts of your many 'piscatorial' conquests. They will assume you are adding size to any fish, so always add at least twenty-five percent to any you tell about just to make sure they are impressed. You can ask several times if there are any questions if you like, there won't be any of course as they don't know squat and probably never will.

I suppose I have missed something here, but in closing make sure you charge plenty. No student will think your worth a twit if you teach for a reasonable price, or worse yet, FREE! ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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