With the wild Brown Trout fishing season now closed for 2011 i was toying with the idea of taking some fly casting lessons. I have been fly fishing for nearly forty years now and i never had a casting lesson. I mentioned to some fellow anglers about taking some casting lessons and i got some varied responses. “What are you taking lessons for?”, “have you lost your mind?”, “look at all the fish you catch you don’t need lessons!”, “you could teach fly casting”. A few however were in agreement saying they thought it was a good idea. Most of those that were in agreement admitted that they also had taken some lessons at some stage or other. I finally made up my mind and set about booking a few lessons. Myself and two other anglers booked a weekend in the west of Ireland with Declan Hughes. I had seen Declan casting on many occasions and only i recently found out that he is a fully qualified game angling instructor (APGAI approved).
I headed over to Foxford on a Friday evening after work, and i arrived at the pre booked B&B shortly after ten pm. After dropping off the bags at the B&B i headed down to the town for a few beers and some craic. The next morning after breakfast i met up with Declan at the local GAA pitch. It was a bad morning weather wise with persistant heavy rain and a strong wind. This was not going to deter us so we put on the rain gear and got the fishing rods ready for some casting. We started the morning with single handed rods.
As we all have experience in casting, the lessons were aimed towards improving whatever aspect of casting each of us felt weak at. The area i wanted to improve in was my distance casting. Most of the fishing that i do during the open season hardly ever calls for any distance casting. With the season now closed i am now fishing for Rainbow trout on private fisheries which are open throughout the year. Over the years i have caught many Rainbow trout at close distances but there are times when that extra distance can give you some advantage, like when lure stripping is the order of the day. The style of casting i wanted to achieve was to gain as much distance i could but without the need for too much false casting.
I am sure that there are many anglers who whilst bank fishing have come across other anglers who in order to achieve distance continually make false casts. While many will agree there is nothing wrong with this, i think that there are times when this continuous false casting does put the fish down. This is more obvious when the fish are near the water surface and even more so when you are fishing in clear water. I also think that over the course of a days fishing if an angler is false casting 6/7 times for every cast this takes up a lot of time when your fly should be in the water fishing. The longer the fly is in the water the more chance there is of it attracting fish. Time is scarce especially for those anglers who fish in competitions.
I asked Declan about ths style of cast that i had in mind and would it be possible to achieve. First he took a look at at the way i usually would cast when i want to get distance. He then pointed out a few errors he noticed in my casting technique whilst demonstrating how to get more distance from the style of cast i use. He left me to it and set about instructing the other two anglers on their particular needs. Declan kept an eye on us correcting each of us if needed while we were changing to different weights of rods and lines. We spent the morning practising on the football field before we had a break for lunch.
After lunch we headed out to Lough Cullin to get some practice on water. The weather in the afternoon was the complete opposite to the mornings weather, full sunshine and a slight breeze. I stayed with the single handed rod while the others changed over to using double handed rods. I wanted to brush up on my roll cast and also on Spey casting for the single handed rod. Declan showed me a few tips on how to cast in these styles and the demonstrated them to me. He then left me to it and set about instructing the other lads all the while keeping an eye on my progress correcting me and giving me pointers. We practised in the beautiful surroundings of Lough Cullin until the sun started to go down. After packing up Declan suggested we meet up again at the football filed the following morning, we all agreed on this.
Meeting up at the field the following day the weather was wild, wet and very windy. While deciding what we should set up for, Declan suggested setting up all singled handed rods and practice casting into the wind, good idea we all thought. He then instructed us on the technique for casting into the wind and then he demonstrated the the technique to us. We then all set about putting the instruction into practice. I was delighted when Declan suggested this to me as there are numerous times when casting into the wind will give an angler an advantage on a given day. I have noticed on many days, especially when i was bank fishing while it was windy, the fish were gathered feeding along the shore line on to which the wind was blowing. Along with a lot of insects getting blown on to the water and being swept across the lake towards exposed bank, the shore line was getting stirred up thus exposing lots of feed for the fish. Days like these called for casting into a strong wind.
We spent the morning practising at casting into the strong wind which was blowing across the football field. After a break for lunch we headed out to Lough Conn for more lessons casting on water. I again stayed with the single handed rod while the others changed over to the double handed rods. Declan demonstrated a few more tips to me and then left me to get on with it. He then set about instructing the double handed rods. We stayed practising on Lough Conn for a few hours before calling an end to our weekend of flycasting tuition. It was an enjoyable and worthwhile weekend spent in excellent company.
Thinking about the weekend as we drove home my thoughts were of why did it take so long for me to take some fly casting tuition and of what i had gained from the weekend. I have been fly fishing for a long time now without ever having a lesson on single handed rod casting, did i think that i did not need lessons because i thought i was good enough without lessons? I guess my answer to that is yes i did think there was no need to take lessons. My mind has certainly been changed after this weekend of tuition so much so that i am now going to book more lessons with Declan. I have come back from the weekend away with a sure sense of having gained valuable knowledge with which i can improve on the knowledge i already have. I can now reccommend to any angler be they a beginner or even experienced caster to at least take some lessons on their fly casting as it will give them further knowledge of their casting.
The lesson i had with Declan were enjoyable and i found his style of instruction easy going very informative. He instructed us in a very professional manner which put us at ease and he managed to correct us and give tips without being obtrusive. It was a great weekend of craic and banter mixed with gaining more knowledge of my hobby.
Contact Declan Hughes on 087 764 9571. email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Facebook.