September 15th, 1997
Is There A Doctor In The House?
"It's not @**#% brain surgery, it's fly casting!" It
has been said that a good writer steals a lot, and a great one steals
all the time. I am going to steal that one. I have to because I can't tell
you who said it. But he is one of the big guns in fly casting. And he is
right.When You Teach - You Learn
I am a little confused with some of the talk about the certification of fly casting
instructors though. It looks to me like the Federation of Fly Fishers (F.F.F.) wants to get
a lot of folks certified as instructors so a lot of other folks will get into fly fishing. And
maybe if more people fly fish we may even have more fish to fish for.
Well, I buy that. And it seems if a person gets certified they have proven they can
cast reasonably well and they have gone thru at least a short course on how to teach fly
casting. That's good too.
Have a degree in double-haul?
Now here's where it gets cloudy for me. Does that mean that if someone hasn't been
certified they shouldn't teach? How about all those good folks in Trout Unlimited? They
don't even have a certification program. And don't forget those darn good schools put on
by the fly rod and fly line manufacturers. Or, just someone, for whatever reason, that just
doesn't have a degree in double-haul?
Now, I don't mean for a minute to put down the certification program; I think it is
perhaps one of the greatest ideas that F.F.F. has ever come up with. I wholeheartedly
endorse it, support it, and hope it does bring more people to fly fishing.
But . . .
I feel that some of the most important fly casting instruction that has ever been done,
and will continue to be done, is by the average guy!
I mean that. The guy that takes his buddy out somewhere and shows him what a cast
should look like. Tells him not to wave the rod back and forth, but - to make it stop in
front, stop in back. That's what makes the line go. And stiffen up your wrist. Just like this
. . . and that's all there is to it.
I guess I have always been somewhat of a champion of the average guy and this is just
one more time.
I remember back around 1970 when Neil T. and I were teaching fly casting in
Michigan on the AuSable river. Doug and Carl had a school there too. We all did a good
job, but we weren't certified.
My wife and I were teaching at the Pere Marquette Club and Lefty was there too, and
we all did a good job, but - we weren't certified.
There wasn't even an F.F.F. chapter in the state yet. Were we as good then as we are
now? Probably not. Have we learned more about fly casting and teaching fly casting over
all those years? I would like to think we have. Will we be better next year? I would like to
But, does that mean that we should not teach fly casting until next year? Should we
wait until we are even better at it? Not for a moment. And neither does it mean that you
should wait either! F.F.F. is doing all it can to promote fly casting and so should you. If
you can get your fly line to do some of the things you want it to and your friend wants you
to show him how to cast, go for it! That's the way fly fishing has grown to the place
where it is today. You get better, he gets better, and the sport grows. Not to mention it
is fun!And Can You Top This?
Sure, if you both want to make faster progress, take a class from one of the certified
instructors. It could save you a few years of learning things the hard way. But,
remember, that's the way most of us had to learn it. And it was a lot of fun, back in the
good old days.
One last thing. Don't get too tangled up with any of those signs at your local fly shop
that say "instruction for the beginner, intermediate, advanced, very advanced, really
advanced, and can-you-top- this."
Till next week, remember ...
If you have been casting some but are not sure you have a good command of the
basics then sign up for the beginners class! You can't get very far without the basics. If
you've got a good handle on the basics, then go for something more challenging. What
do you have to lose except a few years of trial and error? Just remember, fly casting is
learned from the beginning.
You stop the rod here. You stop the rod there. You keep doing it till you get it right.
It's not "brain surgery," it's just fly casting. The rest is up to you.
I started poorly, got a little better, and by a lot of practicing, got so I could castwell.
Or at least, farther.~ JC