Butt To Gut

Trout and Salmon

Good living forces a change to Giles Catchpole's casting technique

I told you the family had given me a fishing lesson for my birthday. And now the weather has warmed I decided it was time to give the old technique a bit of a brush-up before heading north in pursuit of the king of fish.

Mike Smith is strictlyflyfishing.com. He teaches, he arranges, he organises, he accompanies, he guides.

He is a one-stop shop for all those interested in pursuing the art of the angle; be they blank-canvas novice or hardened stillwater warrior, and whether their interests be at home or abroad. He is GAIA (Game Angling Instructors' Association) and APGAI (Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors).
He is qualified and certified in spades and he lives not far away. We agreed to meet at the Norfolk & Suffolk Flyfishers water, which was handy for both of us.

I might also just mention, at this point, that Mike is a reader of T&S and, on at least one occasion, was a steward at those casting competitions where I was so conspicuously successful years ago. So, he was not, I suspect, wholly ignorant of what he was dealing with.

Not wanting to waste a minute of my allotted training time, I arrived early, so when Mike shook my hand I was just about tackled up with my line through most of the rings, the reel on backwards and a lead-lined superfast sink-tip on arse-about. While he made adjustments, we set to sketching out the programme.

"I want to cast a better line," I said. "Further would be nice but definitely better. Better turnover, better presentation, better swimming fly. In all conditions.

"Oh, and it all has to be effortless." I think I added,

"Please!" At least I hope I did. I'm pretty sure I did.

And he asked me to show him my Single Spey and my Double Spey and my Snake Roll and my Circle C and Snap T. And then he went to work.

The thing about good instructors - be they gillies or APGAls or, for that matter, brain surgeons, quantum physicists or mechanics - is that they never say you're doing it wrong. "What a lovely cast/incision/spaceship/ oil change," they will say, "I've seldom seen better, but Why don't we just fine-tune this bit here, eh?"

They don't break you down, they work with what they have and before long it is better than it was. And more consistent. And elegant. And easier.

And in between times we talked about fishing at home and abroad. Yet all the time he was looking and watching and offering little suggestions and ideas as the line went out smoother and further and the leader turned over and the woolly non-fly settled among the increasingly frustrated trout who snapped and slashed at it as the afternoon wore on.

You want samples, don't you? Try this for size. We all know the power delivery in a double-handed rod should come from the bottom hand, right? So why do we all use too much top hand? Whatever happened to the "Butt to gut!" mantra we learned at Nanny's knee?

Well, I don't know if you've looked at your profile in a mirror lately? Aye, there's the rub. And to compound matters, all chest waders have a pocket full of fly-boxes, sunglasses and telephones right where space is badly needed. My butt-to-gut power stroke these days has a possible journey of about an inch. Less after lunch.

But if you hold the rod across your body so that the bottom hand is by your hip rather than your belt buckle...like so.. you seel…..suddenly there is space in abundance to slot that butt into turbo mode...and... whoooooooosh! Away she jolly well goes.

There was more. Of course, there was. It was a lesson full of interest and entertainment. I recommend it.

The test will be if the Great Red Bearded Gillie notices the difference in a week or two.