Expected time for newbie casters [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Expected time for newbie casters

08-05-2004, 08:21 AM
Over the years I've taught a lot of newbies how to cast. Some are ready to fish later that day, others will not be for several more sessions on the lawn.

Most of the single hand instruction has been for coastal saltwater fishing purposes. Certainly not as easy as freshwater, although stream fishing for trout is far from trivial the demands on physical control and timing to put flies into wind and waves effectively to catch fish can be a harder challenge overall.

I would like to get a broad sense for what the general readership thinks about this topic, just for curiosity's sake.

If you wanted to set a guideline for training before taking someone fishing...

08-05-2004, 09:35 AM
The use of a remote controled, instructor operated "electric" dog field training collar set on stun to insure "proper form" not withstanding, it's NICE to provide some time onthewater to play around with "new and/or previously unfamiliar concepts" and to practice the days lessons while they are still fresh...
The immediate self-induced and typically humbling feedback and the opportunity to "catch" will greatly enhance the overall "fishing" experience and firmly set a positive spin.
The newbie will leave with every intention of a speedy return...and will/should have plenty of time onthelawn to further refine the process!
Eye protection highly encouraged!!!

Dble Haul
08-05-2004, 10:04 AM
I tend to agree with Penguin in that some time on the water can reinforce the practical application of what is learned during instruction, even if the casting isn't perfect. The notion of positive feedback by potentially catching a fish doesn't hurt either.

North Island
08-05-2004, 10:11 AM
I like to see the new fisher get on the water ASAP.

I try to put them on water that does not require them to cast very far at all. Unfortunately it has been my experience that the eagerness of new fisher counter effects the patience it takes to learn fly casting, ending up with a major flail session.

Student with some athletic ability and a patient coach at their side can learn on the water in a fishing situation. This definately works best one on one IMO. With any luck maybe they will catch a fish :)

Cheers N I

Although the remote dog collar would prabaly work faster

08-05-2004, 12:32 PM
I like the idea of the lawn first session because there is much familiarization with equipment that needs to take place and there is no need for water nearby. Lawns are usually a short commute away and can cut down on the initial investment of time and you can usually get out of the wind. I would leave a book or video behind and suggest a little self practice. If the person is willing to devote a little time to self practice over the next few days then you know they are serious. Second session can be on the water without fly and try to add a fly and get fishing as soon as possible.

08-05-2004, 12:45 PM
I find that nothing can replace the resistance of the water. Whether snapping off a roll cast or setting up the back cast with tension of the water flexing the rod as you lift line from the water that resistance is extremely important. The lawn is OK but having your line in the water is what the goal ultimately is and without it even the most basic nuances of casting are compromised.

08-27-2004, 12:20 AM
I am a total newb, I got a lawn session then practiced on my own on the lawn and two weeks later I was hacking it up on Davis lake, I think practice practice practice before you waste your buddys day on a fishing trip. might sound silly but watching a vid on some one casting at sexyloops really helped me, now I only slap the water with the fly instead of smacking my fly with my pole and making spectacular knots. :hihi:

08-27-2004, 12:22 AM
Although the remote dog collar would prabaly work faster

I think that would have helped me. :hihi:

08-27-2004, 04:05 PM
I like the collar idea also. But in my perfect world everyone who fly fishes would have a collar on but me. And not surprising I would have the magic button.

Seriously though I wish beginers would start out slow. Lawn is great to practise after dinner and then playing around on lakes for sun fish and the likes. By biggest concern in todays world is that folks want to fish for the most difficult of fish right off the bat, stripers on the flats, Tarpon, permitt, spring creek trout and NW steelhead. To me that's like saying I want to learn to play baseball and going up against Roger Clemens 1st time at bat. Have a feeling that on the great Salmon rivers of Europe not too many newbies just step in and fish a beat. Can imagine they are told quickly that they are not so welcome. I remember it was that way when I was young on many of the great eastern trout streams, you worked your way up to them in skill level, you walked softly and learned the ways of those that came before you. I know in the USA anyone can fish for anything just about, be he beginner or not but I got to say I feel loathing at times to see beginners just stepping to the batters box to face a 100 MPH fastballer. I also feel sorry for him because it can not be as enjoyable as catching sunfish and learning all that goes along with casting, like observation, fly tying, building leaders and the likes.

I have no problems with guides on rivers or flats who's clients are good fishermen and do not have to be hand held. But boy it can be frustating to those who have worked there way up in their fishing ability to have other not so worthy plugging up runs and flats alike. I would like to see guides or teachers take their clients or at least try to convince their clients to fish for fish that are more to their level because the client will get far more out of it and his skill level will not only increase but he will understand more of what he is doing.

08-28-2004, 12:25 PM
I'm relatively new to fly fishing and may not understand the protocol and etiquette that goes with it, but the idea of a beginner "getting in the way" of the experienced doesn't make sense, and may even ring of snobbery.
It all becomes balanced out when a professional beach caster gets to my favorite hole on the surf before I do. I should have gotten there faster. I can't fish at his level but he's still in my way. If a guide wants to eat, he has to get clients. They pay, they play. If they get to a favorite hole first, alarm clock adjustments are in order.
Get the rod, go to the water and cast to to your hearts delight. If you stink and can handle the embarrassment, more power to you. You'll either learn or go get womeone to help you.
The water is free. (Mostly.) I'm going to use it no matter how hard they laugh at me. When I'm finished, it's your turn.

08-28-2004, 01:34 PM
they cant or dont usually catch much of any thing but they will low-hole you and look right at you and waive bacause every thing is friggin new even his simms goretex, matching vest and faggy hat. but over the years of fishing crowded california and oregon waters ive found that you can use them to your advantage by keeping them below you and close enough that your swing can get past them into the water you want to fish by timing.they wont get it until theres a three foot long rocket taking off right in front of them and then its all you my man and they are none the wiser they just think its cool to see a fish. some guys,being new are easily persuaded to move on some arent . its all about perception,if your demeanor is kind,warm and friendly on the outside then use your cunning and calculate a strategy to get around the obsticle to acomplish your goal. may sound selfish but i'm thinking about steelhead not about the other guy.
never give a sucker an even break.
but if the guide hes with is worth his salt all of that wont happen. so all you F-N-Gs out there dont be afraid. get out there and make your mistakes and dont forget the most important part ,HAVE FUN!!!!!!!

08-28-2004, 03:33 PM

Here in the PNW I've had new fly fishers tromp right in the water below me, walk and splash and fast as they can out to waist deep, and scare every steelhead that was lying there out of the run all because they can't cast more the 45' and think that they have to be waist deep to "get to the fish". This is very maddening because in another 40' of cast and step (as steelhead and atlantic salmon fishers cover the water) I would have been covering that water and the steelhead that used to be in it. Even more maddening is the attitude of the dude who low-holed and scared the fish in this manner when he is informed of his breach of stream etique and why he should have either started above those ahead of him in the run or waited his turn to avoid scaring the fish. The all-too-often response from the new guy is "this is a free country, the water belongs to everyone, you are a snob, etc.".

Another all to often scenario here in the PNW is the new fly fisher jumps in the water 150' below you and then parks there instead of moving downstream a step or two after a 2-3 casts. This causes the experienced fishers to move down in the step and cast, step and cast that is the most efficient manner to fish a steelhead run until he now has his casts running the risk of foul-hooking the new guys line or fly. Upon being asked if he would move down a bit, the new guy far too often ignores the request or says the same inane "the water is free, this is a free country, I'm just out for a day's fishing and don't appreciate your hasseling me, etc." Then to add insult to injury, when you move downstream of the new dude, he gets all huffy and angry that you are fishing "his water" despite the fact that he hasn't moved in the 45 minutes he has been fishing. And all too often as you draw near him from above, he starts giving you the look and many time says something about you crowding him and that you should go elsewhere if you can't respect another angler's "fishing spot".

Also, many time the new fly fisher will wade out to where you are casting, instead of waiting until you are finished fishing through the run, just to "chat" and visit. This is also very maddening since he almost invariably stands in the way of back casts or D Loops, chatters along while you are trying to concentrate on your fly's progress and how it is fishing, and in general just gets in the way. If the new guy would simply wait until the experienced fisher is finished fishing through the run before he starts talking to him, the experienced fisher would visit and be pleasant. However, when the new guy wades out and disturbs the experienced fisher, the experienced guy is less than happy, gets a little peeved at the inconsiderate actions of the new guy, and wants to get rid of him as soon as possible.

Likewise on a public spring creek when a new guy walks right up to the stream and scares every trout in the pool that the experienced fisher just spent 20 minutes sneaking up to the water's edge to cast to the fish without spooking them. Or the new guy slaps the water from the other bank with his casts and scares the fish that the experienced fisher has been working to catch for the last 15 minutes.

This is the stuff that OC was talking about. And the only way the new fly fisher learns how to do these things with consideration and fish and cast with skill, is by starting on easier to catch fish like sunfish and bluegills before he goes for steelhead or spring creek trout. Even the world's greatest guide cannot teach a newcomer how to cast 80' on steeelhead river in one day, nor can a great guide teach a newcomer how to make very gentle casts of 50' on a spring creek in one day.

08-28-2004, 06:39 PM
sounds familiar.................

08-28-2004, 09:42 PM
well so far I have only seen me fishing so I don't think I have upset anyone, however a dude drove by and honked excesivly at me, possibly a fellow angler from the great pnw. :chuckle:

12-04-2004, 01:46 AM
i practiced for about four months on grass and ponds before even tying a fly onto my leader. it's a bit different when the fish start to rise or the water's flowing fast and cold, but i think the practice helped. i couldn't (still can't) afford casting lessons, so i took a freebie and the instructors liked my cast except for a small twist in the wrist which i've been watching. practice helps. now i'm back, landlocked from trout, and again practicing. trying to get good at longer, tighter casts so i can hunt reds on the coast.

i was lucky enough to get to fish some not-so-travelled areas in northwest colorado for three months so running into experienced anglers wasn't a big deal for me. if i did get a spot that was crowded, i'd either go elsewhere or wade as softly as possible. if i was alone and tripped and splashed, i only hurt my own chances. doh. sometimes, i think it's best to quietly watch experts fish a hole rather than try to fish the hole yourself if you're a relative newb like me.

12-04-2004, 07:26 AM
The biggest problem facing both experienced and new anglers is the proper timing of the cast. Most people work too hard and don't wait long enough for the rod to load. Once the timing is down the rest is tweeking the cast to get more distance. This my sound a little crazy but take the newbie bluegill fishing. The fish are willing to bite and you learn a lot about playing a fish ect. That's what I do with younger anglers . Once they get a fish on the line they are hooked. FishHawk

12-04-2004, 10:17 AM
I think a lot of it depends on whether the pupil is new to fishing or just new to fly fishing.

An experienced fisherman could probably pick up a fly rod for the first time and, with some basic instruction, begin fishing and hopefully catching fish on the fly rod the same day or even the same hour. Of course, if they focus on the fishing rather than the casting then they will probably develop some bad habits and may get frustrated when they wrap the line around themselves or have to play cat's cradle when they are trying to catch fish.

Someone who has seldom casted any type of fishing rod and has little knowledge of fishing would probably be better off getting some casting experience before trying to deal with the "fishing" part, especially if it is a more specialized type of fishing such as fishing in the surf or on the flats or anyplace where they may encounter more experienced fishermen who get upset when a newbie doesn't know "the routine". Of course, if the beginner has a knowledgeable instructor who is teaching him to cast, then the instructor should also spend some time explaining the "fishing" part so that the beginner can learn how to approach a pool or work a river or wade the flats without spooking all the fish or violating the rules of etiquette that are (hopefully) followed by the more knowledgeable anglers. The beginner might not "get it" right away but they will at least have a clue, and as they improve their skills and spend more time on the water they will begin to understand what the instructor was trying to teach them.


p.s. I voted "As many sessions as necessary, then fishing." That could mean fishing on the first day or not, depending on the type of fishing and the skill level of the client.

12-04-2004, 11:25 AM
Good morning,
Lawn first is essential! What it offers is "Angling" with out the fish. Allowing the Angler time to associate him / herself with the equipment. But a key thing here is to instill in the student at that time that this is a practice that is life long!
A cast is like a great painting, book, poem, or anything that requires lifelong duty. How many of our seasond readership still get out the equipment in between seasons, when the river is not producing, or just to spend a few with the kids on a cool spring evening after a hectic day at work, throwing some line. I do! A quick trip up to the local middle school field, or just in the front yard, people may look at you funny at first, but most understand "commitment" when they see it!
Practice makes perfect! If we are to become truley good Anglers, and to teach same, then the practice needs to always be there. This is the sign of a well rounded Sportsman.
I had the pleasure of living next door to Skip Morris some years back. He practices on grass. I think if more "Newbies" were given this instruction along with "How to cast", you might see a higher level of "Maturity" on the river when the time comes.

Hope you all are having a great weekend


salt dog
12-05-2004, 08:17 PM
Probably sounds strange, but one of the singular pleasures I've had in flyfishing is teaching casting to newbies, mostly ages 8 thru 14, boys and girls, up to 5 at a time. Lots of fun if you can let go and just sit back and enjoy the whole process.

I try to keep learners joking around to keep them loose and having fun so they willingly follow 'suggestions'. Keep lessons short: two short stints on the lawn, before and after lunch, then down to the river the next day. The water is carefully chosen for clear back cast area, safe water, with lots of little dumb rainbows in it, diverse enough to allow better casters (read that as athletic and good listeners) onto faster water, and slower learners on the slow big pools where I can easily pick out knots, dodge flies, shadow cast with them, and take off fish. Oh yea, and water where no other ff can be bothered, as it is very frustrating to others. Generally, kids are so much easier to teach then adults; women are easier to teach then men (Women aren't expected to perform well, so they leave the ego out and just have fun with it). IMO, keep lessons(2) short, and spaced out so they have time to digest it: they will think about it on their own in between; make it fun. Some newbies get by with one lesson, most need 2 or more. Most courtesy breaches are really about ignorance, but not always. I have had beach fishing wrecked by someone throwing balls for his retriever into the water next to me, then when I sulk to the beach to wait the fool out, they want to chat me up about how much fishing they do! Go figure. A newby can learn from a patient mentor, some fools will never get it. Be patient with newbies on the water, but do tell them politely about breaches of fishing etiquette while explaining how better to fish that section, or while offering them a better fly pattern to use. It will have much more of an impact than an expletive.

12-16-2004, 11:42 PM
I guess the experiences are different. I'm out here in the middle of nowhere. If I see a human around the marshes, I log in in my "life book."
It's usually consoling to see company so far from help. If he makes noise though, he may become part of the eco system.