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What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

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Paul Arden
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What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#1

Post by Paul Arden » Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:44 am

Hi ladies and gentlemen,

Mark asked a good question on FB but it’s not possible to answer properly there, but it’s a good one for here.

I think that the question of what is a good caster is relatively easy to answer. He/she has loop control, back and forward casts. Can double haul I would think too. As simple as that.

What is a good angler is slightly more difficult. Obviously catches fish, but that’s really difficult to quantify because some fisheries/disciplines produce far more fish than others.

The way I would look at this, is what are the qualities that make a good angler? Observation, knowledge, an ability to alter one’s tactics to fit the given situation, experience, a considered (thinking) approach and sometimes just being “fishy”.

While it’s possible to be a “good caster” rather quickly, I would think that in order to be a “good angler” one would need in the region of 1000 days experience. But I haven’t thought too hard about that.

This is not expert level of course. Expert caster would be the above but with a complete range of casts and excellent fluidity of movement. Expert angler for me at least would require at least 3000 days in any given fly fishing discipline. That’s where I put the ball anyway.

The question it stemmed from is, is it possible to be good at one and not the other? Most certainly in both cases. I know excellent anglers who have only basic casting abilities and vice versa. Strange for me, in the case of being a good angler and not good caster he/she is making life difficult for him/herself. And in the case of good casting and not good angler I think “what a shame!”

Incidentally I don’t think there is any such thing as bad angler or bad caster. There is just a ladder. You start not fishing and then you climb the ladder always becoming better. At some point you reach good. Later on you might reach excellent.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#2

Post by t.z. » Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:51 pm

Most folks I met that were really good at music or angling thought of themselves as constant beginners. These people were humble and never seized to learn new things. There's always something new.
“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” - Douglas Adams

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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#3

Post by Paul Arden » Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:00 pm

Hi Thomas,

You definitely need that attitude if you are to keep getting better and never plateau. What makes them really good in your eyes?

Cheers, Paul
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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#4

Post by Mangrove Cuckoo » Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:13 pm

t.z. wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:51 pm
Most folks I met that were really good at music or angling thought of themselves as constant beginners. These people were humble and never seized to learn new things. There's always something new.
tz,

The current US president has made the Dunning- Kruger Effect quite topical. It is essentially the opposite of what you have described above.

Many young fishing guides in these parts exhibit a strong tendency toward DKE.
"Technique is the proof of your seriousness"

Wallace Stevens

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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#5

Post by tomo » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:48 am

For me a good, or top, angler is all about the intangible stuff. Yes it's time on the water, but it goes beyond thsy. It's that drive, dogged determination, constant analysis, and getting the decisions right. You also need to be quite hard (critical) on yourself. It's managing to drag one fish out under the worst conditions rather than catching a bunch when they are easy. A good angler stacks most of the variables they can in their favour before the shot is taken.

Sometimes good anglers casting isn't great, but gets the job done. However, the guys at the top of their game are almost always good casters ( loop control, and line management). My observations anyway!!

Cheers, Tom.

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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:58 am

Ah I separate the good from expert. Good for me is competent, has it together. Top on the other hand would be the 1% or less. That top 1% are out and out fish catchers in their chosen discipline/s. I know a lot of them, some aren’t exactly the world’s most elegant casters :p but they all have a very functional cast. The fly goes exactly where it’s supposed to go and there is no fucking around. Some are highly competitive which can become a bit of a drag over time. But many are just competitive with themselves and that’s pretty normal I think.

It’s always interesting for me. I’m a beginner in Saltwater, chalkstreams, spate rivers (excluding NZ) just to mention a few and yet I’ve been lucky to fish with real experts, particularly in the first two. And I always get totally smashed :D but I learn so much fishing with these anglers and it’s always a pleasure.

Can hold my own on Stillwaters. Can hold my own in New Zealand. Here in the SE Asia Jungle lakes I haven’t reached that level yet but I’m pretty sure I’m actually at the front, after all there is no one else doing it! For me, I think everyone can get there, it’s just a ladder you climb. I like the thinking, practical, structured approach that stillwater fishing has given me. I think what it really comes down to, however, is being obsessed. If you are obsessed you will always find a way.

What a great passion that we have where everyone can reach the top!

Cheers, Paul
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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#7

Post by Graeme H » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:47 am

I know my casting far surpassed my fishing ability about 3 years ago. I have a very good reason for that - I can cast way more often than I can fish.

I am not a bad fisherman. I am simply better at casting. The fact that I'm a better caster than angler doesn't bother me. I love casting. :D

Cheers,
Graeme
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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#8

Post by nicholasfmoore » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:23 am

Hi Paul,

A really good musician in my book is someone that is technically excellent (i.e no mistakes in concert!), and is able to interpret music which is pretty close to what the composer intended. This is achieved by doing a lot of research, and looking at the big picture.

For example, with Bach, he didn't really tell the musician HOW to play his pieces, and it's very vague. Terraced dynamics are present and this tells the musician when to play piano or forte (quiet or loud). Sometimes further on in a piece you'll come across a page with just notes which isn't helpful. So how are you supposed to play it? Well, it's mostly instinct and studying the composer in real depth. Anyone can play a piece (sight read) well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, most people can't do it well. However it'll be quite dull and 'standard'. The art is bringing it to life and this is achieved by;

1. Looking at other pieces composed around the same time to see the 'big picture'

2. Studying the piece you are going to play so you know it inside out

3. Researching the composer in that time period, what were they going through in their life when they wrote it?

4. What's the musical meaning of the piece, how did the composer want us to play it?

5. Call and response passages in the music, same again,how was the composer feeling at the time?

That's how I look at it. You can 'play' a piece in 15 minutes by sight reading, but to 'learn' a piece it could take decades, and you can really hear it when you listen to a great performer as they convey deep emotion, and in some cases can bring about a tear or two. I'm still learning, and so are 80 year old proffesors. Anyone that says differently is talking rubbish, it's impossible to know everything about everything!

All the best!
Nick M

"Memento Piscantur Saepe" :upside:

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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#9

Post by Paul Arden » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:56 am

Hi Nick,

Music is an interesting one and I can see some parallels to flycasting. But before I go down this route, when I think “good” I think competent. That would be more of less technically being able to play the right notes, or for that matter, being able to form loops that are reasonable consistent.

If by “good” we mean a master, then that’s different :D I know when we think “good” we often do think excellent.

Where I think the parallels would extend – and I’m not a musician, not unless the Jew’s harp qualifies :p – would be that a master can make the instrument sound how he feels. In a similar way I think we can cast as an expression of feeling.

As you’ll know I often cast to music, and really believe that I have learned a lot doing this. My casting is not just at the tempo of the music but one could also see it as an interpretation of the music. And why not? :cool:

So in this regards I would say that they are both art forms. But that’s most certainly not where I put the good/competent level when teaching.

Cheers, Paul
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Re: What is a good angler, what is a good fly caster?

#10

Post by nicholasfmoore » Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:30 pm

Hi Paul,
when I think “good” I think competent. That would be more of less technically being able to play the right notes, or for that matter, being able to form loops that are reasonable consistent. If by “good” we mean a master, then that’s different :D I know when we think “good” we often do think excellent.
I forgot about this and how people comment on others abilities, and you make an excellent point there. :cool:
Where I think the parallels would extend – and I’m not a musician, not unless the Jew’s harp qualifies :p – would be that a master can make the instrument sound how he feels. In a similar way I think we can cast as an expression of feeling.
I haven't played the jews harp for many years, maybe we can jam when i'm able to go over there :laugh: That's a very cool point, and i have often thought about the poetry of casting from a musical perspective, it really is interesting. I don't know about you, but often the cast changes with the music.

Going back to your original point i see the correlation between a good angler and a good caster, and they also aren't mutually exclusive too. I've seen outstanding competition anglers catch lots of fish where others have found it hard, and some of these have ok casting technique. I've never seen a good caster that was a bad fisherman. I also think a good angler is highly prepared for the day, lots of different lines, setups, spares of things, minimum time wasted setting up etc.

Additionally, i think being humble in the company of others goes a long way. I've met a few comp angling guys that are extremely arrogant, i call them peacocks :p i say it to myself of course.

All the best!
Nick M

"Memento Piscantur Saepe" :upside:

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