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Fly Casting development in Europe

European Fly Casting Developments and Trends

There have not been too many new things appearing on the fly casting stage in Central Europe within the last decade. From time to time "new" casts which are already known are presented by someone else under a new name. Regardless to say, that a lot of things have already existed in other people's heads before or had perhaps already been practiced, but never been published. However, all these discussions are just a waste of time. Shouldn't we all just try to push the development of fly casting forward regardless of the person who has found out something new? Shouldn't we -without any wrong pride- honor the work of those pioneers who have and still do develop techniques that help to make fly fishing more effective or more enjoyable? We all should try to give our students the best help to improve their skills.
In Central Europe Europe the "air casts" - as I call them- had been well analyzed, perfected, and published which was first of all the work of people like Charles Ritz and Hans Gebetsroither, whose casting style(oval casting - in the USA misleadingly called Belgian Cast) and theories had been slightly modified after his death by several fly casters.

Late Roberto Pragliola from Italy has gone new ways with his fly fishing school in using special high-speed techniques (TLT technique) for dry flies with very light tackle. In my opinion, TLT is the most effective style for dry fly (only for dries and tiny nymphs) fishing. Some of the "water casts" (a term which I created and spread some years ago for the different roll, Spey and switch casts) were not that well known on the continent and more or less unknown in the United States in the early nineties.

However, especially in the UK, these casts were used with double hand rods only whereas the use of them with single-handers started in Sweden and later in the Alps and set foot in the UK only within the last 10-15 years. At least when I demonstrated for the first time at the famous Chatsworth Angling Fair in 1996 they were completely unknown and not part of any demo program of UK fly casters at all.

Modern Casts

A lot of these trick casts were developed by Göran Andersson from Sweden who has also developed the IMHO most effective style for two-handed rods -  the so-called Underhand Technique - which is performed mainly with shooting heads and can be used for single hand rods, too. The Underhand Technique is more and more "misused" by Spey casters who just call it modern Spey casting instead of underhand casting although Spey casting was a very unique and fabulous technique developed for casting the very soft(slow) and long two-handed rods used at the wide Scottish Salmon rivers. This misuse of wrong terms mainly because of business reasons has created a lot of confusion among fly fishermen around the world. Some other techniques (Snake and Turbot Roll Casts, ...) come from the U.K. and have been developed by Simon Gawesworth in the early eighties. Not to forget Michael Evans who has contributed a lot to the development in two-handed casting, too.


My own contributions to the development of fly casting are meanwhile known as Snap-T (my beginner's version is aka Snap-C), the backhand high hauling technique, the Magic Switch(a technique based on the Underhand principle with additional optimizing in regard to power loss in the loop), the Dunker(for getting a nymph down deep in the best possible way) and the side roll snap(a very special cast used for sight fishing with either dries or nymphs).

The fly casting instructor scenery in Europe is meanwhile very well connected through the EFFA Flycasting Instructor Programme, the world's toughest fly casting instructor programme and intends to develop new and better teaching methods which will help to make their fly casting classes even more efficient. The EFFA Flycasting Instructor Program is a very useful means to make sure that only good teaching methods and techniques are used not only to keep the European fly casting level high but even improve it.

The negative impact of tournament fly casting

During the last fifteen years, one could recognize a slight change in regard to casting demos at fly casting shows. Mainly because no new techniques were developed some organizers began to invite people for demos whose main purpose is to present a long straightforward cast no matter with the single or double hand rod. Therefore they usually use ultra-long belly WF lines exceeding 20 m in belly length and even longer ones and DH lines with twice that length. Such presentations make the visitors and especially newcomers believe that fly fishing means distance casting and beginners start buying such lines as they think this is a necessity for casting a good length. More than once I met clients for beginners courses who showed up with such long belly lines. No wonder they were frustrated and were looking for help from a pro because they couldn't handle these lines which were advertised to be the latest and best by the casters and even some shops. This is in my opinion a misleading development which has to be thought over. In the nineties, we always distinguished between fly fishing and tournament fly casting but now this got mixed up. Fly fishing means much more than casting a long straight line.

A perfect double haul for distance casting.

Fly fishing means adapting to the situations, presenting trick casts that make a drag-free drift possible or make our nymphs sink faster, and handling situations where nearly no backspace is available. That's real fly fishing. How can you handle all these situations with such stupid long lines which are only good for a long cast on the lawn, where touching the ground behind the casters has not got much of a negative effect on the casting length? Doing some training with such lines from time to time just for fun is great, but making potential future fly fishers believe that this is what fly fishing is all about is wrong. Tournament casting techniques presented at fly fishing shows are definitely the wrong way to raise the number of fly fishers. Powerful casts and fly fishing do not go together. There are only very few situations -if at all in which powerful casts can improve the catch rate.

When teaching fly casting for the purpose of fly fishing we should never stress the use of power but teach a fly fisher how to reduce and control power to not spook fish.

The Shooting Head Revolution

It was not before Skagit entered the scene that fly fishers in North America started using shooting heads for salmon and steelhead fishing with double handers. Göran Andersson from Sweden has been teaching the use of shooting heads for salmon fishing with single and double hand rods for decades but it was not before a Canadian Fly line revolution was started until the fly fishers in North America started to jump on the shooting head train. 

Copyright © Günter Feuerstein