This is Alex’s journey in his words of the preparation for a dream fishing trip, enjoy!
From Small Roach to Giant Trevally
In May 2022, a friend announced that he’d booked us a trip to Alphonse Island in the Seychelles to fish for Bonefish and Giant Trevally in February 2023. Fantastic, the only problem being that I am a coarse fisherman with negligible experience of casting a fly. This called for urgent action so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself or embarrass my friend.
Living in the Midlands, I searched the internet for casting lessons, came across the Midlands Fly Fishing website and contacted Steve Yeomans who is based at Loynton Trout Fisheries near Stafford. When I had explained what I wanted and that I was an absolute beginner, Steve was encouraging and told me that I had done the right thing starting early rather than leaving it to the last minute which is my usual style.
I borrowed a ten-weight rod from my friend, since this would likely be the rod I used, and set out for Stafford with some trepidation. After introducing himself Steve asked me to do a few casts on grass so that he could observe me in action. He picked out the (few) good bits we could build on and set about correcting the beginner’s errors such as allowing my wrist to roll around and flicking the rod tip during casting. He also explained, patiently and in simple terms, why such apparently minor faults resulted in tangles, “wind-knots” and line round my ears. The lesson was followed by a follow-up email giving me exercises to practice on my own. Useful pieces of advice were to do short practice sessions of 15 minutes or so and, if I did the perfect cast, to stop whilst I was on a high rather than finish on a downer.
Over the ensuing weeks my faults were remedied through correction and repetition in order to build muscle-memory, starting with short-casts and building up, over the months, to longer casts, gaining a “feel” for the rod and line. As soon as I had a reasonable grasp of the basics, Steve introduced “hauls” and “double hauls” into the proceedings which were to prove invaluable once I went to Alphonse. On the basis that “you have to be cruel to be kind”, Steve also made me cast into the wind to get me used to the adverse conditions which always seem to afflict us anglers when we fish in the wild.
In later lessons we moved on to methods of retrieve for different fish and “strip-striking” as against the “rod-up” methods I was used to as well as such tips as keeping my rod low and in line with the fish rather than at right angles to save stress on the rod. We, also, spent a few lessons using a seven weight rod and line to improve technique before eventually the lessons finished with “live” casting with a fly into the lakes at Loynton. Here Steve showed his intimate knowledge of the venue guiding me in ways that enabled me to pick up the odd trout to illustrate the points I had learned. By late January, I was as ready as I’ll ever be and…well the proof, as they say, is in the pudding..
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