Casting trio, The Pefect Cast - Distance and Delicacy - Cracking the Code
These three DVD's on casting and salmon fishing are quite an odyssey through these subjects and at the same time a journey almost as far around the world as you can come. They are sold seperately, but will be reviewed as a set here. The price varies, but expect to pay about 40 US$ per DVD in the US and 40 Euros in Europe.
Henrik Mortensen, the angler and casting instructor on the DVD's, manages to fish Iceland, Norway and Sweden in the first and last installments and takes a quick jump to Patagonia in the middle one. Mortensen is no stranger to these places having been a guide for the Icelandic Angling Club Laxa, an outfitter that has arranged fly fishing trips to most parts of the world as well as Iceland, of course.
Henrik Mortensen is also known as a gear designer, formerly for Swedish Loop Tackle and currently as the head of design for Danish Scierra, where he designs rods and line systems.
The DVD's are produced independently of his present and former employers and there are no advertising content or sales pitches as such except for the fact that Mortensen wears quite a bit of Scierra apparel and of course fishes Scierra gear. But the instructions can easily be applied to any type of gear and Mortensen does not refer to any models or brands.
The three DVD's are titled: "The Perfect Cast", "Distance and Delicacy" and "Cracking the Code", and a short breakdown of them runs something like this:
The Perfect Cast covers basic casting, the mechanics of the cast, casting with one hand and two-hand rods. Mortensen introduces the basic casting strokes of the common overhand cast, but also touches on the underhand casting used in salmon fishing with spey rods.
Distance and Delicacy of course covers longer casts and presentation as the title indicates. In this DVD Mortensen emphasizes his overall mantra: we cast to catch fish. This is all about getting the fly to fall where you want it and fish like you want it.
Cracking the Code is a DVD that covers salmon fishing and more exotic salmon-fishing methods, in particular Mortensen's current favorite the riffling hitch. It goes more into details regarding fly choice and line and leader combinations and there is some advice on reading the water and finding the fish.
There's no doubt that the quality gets better from DVD to DVD and the last one is far better than the first one - which is not bad at all by the way.
But there is some magic in Cracking the Code which makes it stand out compared to most fishing videos. Both this third DVD and the second one contains a lot of very entertaining real-life fishing action, which make them excel in comparison to many other casting instruction videos. The first DVD also has fishing scenes, but they are not nearly as compelling as on the other two DVD's.
Mortensen is an excellent fly angler and not only does he guide professionally but he also fishes all the great waters of the world. His salmon catches can literally be counted in the thousands, and he clearly shows why that is the case in the numerous fishing clips in the DVD's. That fact of course makes them interesting to salmon anglers in particular.
Henrik Mortensen fishes the absolutely best (and most expensive and least accessible) waters available, with Argentinean Rio Grande and Icelandic East Ranga as prime examples. I can't help having the feeling of "easy" fishing. Of course I know very well that there is no such thing as easy fishing, but there is no doubt that the producers could have chosen worse places to put and angler who they wanted to catch fish on film.
And Mortensen does catch fish on these films. Quite a lot, actually. His confident grip on this very obvious and convincing, and watching him fish, hook, fight and land fish is very educating. His calm instructions just enhance the experience. No wonder that he's a sought after guide. At the same time his apparent joy of fishing and obvious enthusiasm draws you in and spellbinds. In spite of his impressing track record he still enjoys it.
The mainstay of the DVD's as a whole is the casting instructions, which are done with a good feeling for conveying the practical and theoretical aspects. Mortensen covers the mechanics of the cast and spends a fair amount of film time on grass and with close-ups on movements. I don't doubt the value of these sequences but to me personally they seem a bit too constructed and artificial to work well in conjunction with the much more juicy real-life action. I get a lot more from the scenes where Mortensen is on the bank and in the water, applying the theory and casting drills on the real McCoy.
It also seems to me that the production quality is a bit better on the great outdoors scenes than on the scenes shot indoors or on a lawn. The chance of producing some stunning images from all these beautiful places has been used to the full extend, and in the second and third DVD's there is some really excellent footage of fish in the water, casting, hooking and fighting. These clips will definitely appeal to most anglers - even the ones not seeking casting tuition and even the ones not bitten by a mad salmon angler.
Altogether these are some of the better DVD's I have seen on casting, and both the viewer who is not seeking casting instruction per se and the non-salmon-angling angler will have a great time watching them - and will learn quite a bit about casting while doing so.