I met them at the last Michigan Fish-In. Joe and Lynn were not
actually part of it, they just happened to be staying at the same
place. They were watching us as we were casting a few of each
others fly rods on the lawn alongside the lodge. They were there
for the fishing and being of a sociable nature asked if we minded
them watching. Of course, we did not mind at all. One thing led to
another and eventually the subject of the double-haul came up. She,
Lynn, asked if I thought I could help her with hers.
Like a red shirt to a bull, certainly. I knew at least I could try. Her
husband, Joe, expressed his gratitude if I could help her in any way.
It seems she had received casting help from several folks and not a
whole lot helped much. Deanna was there with me and a few of the
other guys from our group. It was late afternoon and we were more
or less, relaxing until dinner time and the evening fishing. Just passing
time lawn casting.
Lynn had a new rod, a nine foot six weight as I recall. Joe asked my
opinion of the rod. After casting it some there on the side yard I told
him that it most likely was just fine. He pressed the issue and I did say
that I thought the rod was a bit 'tip-heavy' and that actually it would not
be a favorite of mine. I liked rods which were smoother, more of a
progressive action. Also, I was not really thrilled with the fly line that
was on it. Just didn't seem to quite match the rod somehow.
Little did I realize that the rod was brand-new and so was the line.
The brand of the rod and line are not the subject here, but putting a
different line on the rod is. The one she had just didn't want to slip
through the guides well for whatever reason. I had a six weight rod
in my motel room and asked my wife to bring it out for her to cast.
Lynn cast the rod a few times and began to realize the difference in
the actions of the two rods. This also gave me a better chance to see
just what she was doing with her casting that may not have been the
most efficient. There were a few things that she might be able to help
I then switched my reel onto her rod and let her try that. The line shot
far better. More speed and distance on each cast as it ran through the
guides. Not so much that she could cast farther, just a lot less work to
cast at any distance. So much for that, now to try to help with her
casting basics. I went back to the ' teaching rod' we had bought along
with us, the 9 foot six weight and asked her to use it for a few minutes.
I know what the rod does and can do and if something is not working
for a student, I know it's not the rod.
One 'trick' I often use is to have a person put both feet together. Both
shoes side-by-side, facing the target, actually touching each other. This
seems to set up a whole new area of their brain and we can start learning
casting all over. At least, it works for me. Now I needed to get her casting
stroke and casting arc developed. I knew she had some habits that we
needed to bypass. Like many fairly new to fly casting, she was not really
very good at stopping her rod on either the forward or backward casting
stroke. The stop is what makes the line go; we needed to develop the stop.
' Kill the Spider' seemed like a good place to start.
As she was right handed, I usually stand on the left side, out of the way
of the line, but here I needed to make it easier for her to see me as I
described a couple of things. With that, I moved out about six feet off
from her right shoulder. I asked if she would just swing the rod back and
leave it pointed back, the line laying on the grass. That done, I explained
that there was a cement-block wall about three feet in front of her
(mentally) and about eight feet tall. Peeking over the top of the wall was
a huge hairy spider, and he was climbing over the top. Her job was to
'swat' the thing with the tip of her rod. Kill it just using the rod like a fly
swatter and not to smash the rod into or through the wall. Just kill the
spider. Destroy the bug, not the rod and not the wall.
Happy to report that she did exactly what everyone does at first.
They don't swat it very hard. I chirped at her, "Don't spank the thing,
hit it! Kill it! It's coming after ya!" Ok, you get the picture. She continued
whacking at the imaginary bug, increasing the power of the swat with
each stroke. Casting stroke, that is. She now had a good casting stroke,
at least in front.
"Now, I'm going to build another wall. This one about three feet
behind you, about eight feet tall and guess what's coming over the
top. Use that same ' spider killing' motion you were using on the
one in front of you and swat that big nasty spider coming over the
"Get the front one! Now the back one! Now the front one! Kill
the things, don't just spank them. They will only get annoyed! Give
it to them!"
She did. She did it well. She did it very well. The smile on her face
was almost as big as the one on her husbands, Joe. It's very rewarding
to see the learning process develop and do it so quickly. Very rewarding
indeed. She was having fun now. Stopping the rod well in front and behind,
line loops forming quite nicely on each stroke and getting a better sense
of exactly how and where to make the stops depending on where and
how she wanted the loops to form.
I had to actually make her stop casting for a few moments. She was
using a few new muscles and I didn't want to get any fatigue setting
in and causing problems. After a few minutes we resumed casting. I
had her practice making a few great big loops in front, then tighter
and tighter until she could pitch a tailing loop on purpose. Then we
did it all on the back cast. Big loops to smaller and smallest etc. With
that, I went over to the shade of the building and just let her play. I told
her so. All fun now. Nothing can go wrong. Just have a good time for a
few minutes. She had a ball. Joe watched in awe as his wife was now
able to out cast him. Next, we went into the double-haul. ~ James Castwell