I started fishing as young boy drowning baits for the inhabitants of Queensland estuaries. We moved south to colder climes and in my early teens I got into fishing for trout, a mysterious and exotic species. They were a problem I needed to solve. I finally started to catch them, graduating to casting lures instead of bait and deciding eventually to increase the degree of difficulty by using fly tackle. That was 30 years ago.
The problems happily multiplied. Skip forward several years and there I was sitting on a rock at the close of an evening rise on the banks of Lake Eucumbene in the southern highlands of New South Wales. Could take you to that spot tomorrow and find that same rock. Moments of epiphany, are like that. It came to me that I had found an earthly heaven, one blessed with a wellspring of inexhaustible learning for the small price of occasional frustration. I’m a curious person – in both senses. Here was a journey without destinations, milestones, itineraries or time limits, mortality excepted and accepted.
Most of my trout fishing is in impoundments and given a choice I prefer to walk the bank than to fish from a boat. Sight fishing is my first love, much preferring to hunt than to trap. I like to work out what it will take to catch that fish rather than any fish. Quality has always mattered more than quantity, especially when a session might offer only a handful of targets. More recently I diversified into saltwater flats fishing and that will expand with new places and species. Big game fishing, however, is not for me.
I’ve had quite a few working lives including with my hands and muscle in a cabinet making factory, fixing cars and motorcycles, labouring for a plumber and a carpenter and even living on a cattle property mustering on horseback and doing the attendant yard work. With my head I’ve been a practising lawyer, a legal researcher and policy analyst, a director of research and a CEO. My last paid gigs were as a consultant in strategic planning and organisational development.
All of that gave me ideas, insights and conceptual models which made the next life richer. It is the combination of knowledge and skill that has always set fly fishing apart to say nothing of beauty – places and fish. It often inspires ethical values characterised by respect and restraint – my kind of values.
All the best anglers I’ve known and fished with have a few things in common, prominent among which are independence of mind, thirst for learning and a sizeable but still healthy dose of obsession. You can’t have passion without it – yin and yang sort of deal.
Over the years I’ve taught a few kindred spirits to cast and that usually teaches me as much or more than I teach them. At one stage I planned out a business based on fly fishing and casting but didn’t go ahead with it because I wasn’t prepared to risk sacrificing a personal passion on the alter of commercial gain.
I still like to make things, fix things, solve problems and learn more about more things.
Most of my fish, fresh or salt water, are caught within 60’/18m – an area defined somewhat harshly as the “killing zone”. Fish within that range can be cast to with ease and accuracy, the comfort zone of my casting. Occasionally I catch fish at greater distance and that has a special reward.
Several years ago I decided to improve my casting and enlarge the area within which I could cast to fish accurately enough not to waste them. I wanted a comfort zone of 80-90’/ 24-27m. To do that meant being able to cast to 100’/30m or more with at least reasonable accuracy. That means getting everything right. For me it also means understanding not just what to do and how to do it but why. I’m still a curious human being and this has become another journey or rather another part of the same journey.
One of the things that fly fishing and fly casting share is great complexity. I’ve never been able to work trout out completely and I hope that never happens because I would probably stop fishing for them. With fly casting it will likewise be a long road without a final destination.
As you would expect I have done the research and know that there is an ocean of casting content available online, on paper and in endless videos and DVD’s. The unavoidable inference is that either no-one has really worked out how to fly cast or everyone has in their own way. Either way, it would be a mistake to look for THE fly casting guru. There are no guru’s, only pilgrims on the road. So, why add a few more drops to ocean? Because I can, I want to, and other people might find it useful.
Roughly speaking there are many people who only want and need to know what to do and how to do it; fair enough. Others, like me, need to know the why of the what and how. I’m going to try and provide for both preferences by not mixing it all up but I can’t promise complete separation of the questions or the answers – well this pilgrim’s answers. Also you can expect “answers” to be revised from time to time. Silver bullets only work on vampires.
Of course, everyone is free to visit and find what they can here but I expect the site will be more useful to the intermediate and advanced caster than to the novice. If you are just starting out my advice is to find someone who is a good teacher. Being a great caster is not, by itself, a sufficient qualification. Simple is good at this stage. Best to leave the complexity for later after you’ve got a handle on the basics.
Finally, a word about my ideas as published on this site. Some were learned and/or derived from others, some are things I’ve come up with independently and some of those might be original but chances are other people have independently come up with similar ideas and still others will do the same. That isn’t a problem, it’s part of the fun.
No concerted attempt will be made to differentiate what is my work, what is original and what is derived. I will reference, cite or link to other people’s work where that seems useful and appropriate. This is a travelogue rather than an academic publication. I’m not a intentional plagiarist and what gets published here is because I think it is a good idea.
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