July 28th, 2008

Killing Spiders
By James Castwell

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 a bit.

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 back wall."

"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

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

All Previous Castwell Articles
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice