J. Castwell
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.

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 hope so.

When You Teach - You Learn

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!

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.

And Can You Top This?

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."

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

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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