Published Dec 17. 2013 - 10 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 17. 2015

Video review: Casting That Fly 1/2 - Basics/Advanced

A set of excellent casting DVDs that will appeal in particular to the beginner and medium advanced fly angler who wants to get started with more advanced casting and not least shooting heads

Niels Vestergaard
Wide Open Outdoor Film
Publishing year: 
US$ each

Reviewed by: 

The absolute first words from casting instructor Lars Christian Bentsen in this video expresses my feelings about fly casting videos very well: Can you become a better caster by watching this video? The first answer is "probably not" and the second answer is "probably yes".
I have always felt that watching fly casting instruction on a screen is like watching cooking on TV: it's a far cry from watching someone cook not to mention cooking yourself with proper instruction.
On the other hand it can be inspiring if you can cook, meaning that if you know the basics or even cook fairly well, there's a lot of inspiration to be picked up from looking at a Rene Retzeppi, a Hestorn Blumenthal or even a Gordon Ramsey.
Same thing with fly casting. If you know the basics, it can be really great to get new ideas from watching an accomplished caster performing new and old casts and commenting on what he or she does.
Since I have been fly fishing for decades and generally know one end of a fly rod from the other, I don't consider myself in need of neither basic nor advanced instruction. I'm at the stage where a lot of casters are (and stay for decades, like me): the correction state. I would be much better off with someone watching me and correcting all my bad fly casting habits and telling me that all the things I think I know, I really have no idea about!
But that's a whole other matter.
This set of DVDs will not correct my errors, and probably not make me a better caster. But then again... it just might.
The first DVD starts off really at the beginning, by spooling backing and fly line on a reel and assembling the rod and feeding the line through the guides. If you're not a novice you might find this a bit too basic, but there's no doubt that this information is well placed, and the really basic beginner's tips will be welcomed by a lot of those watching. We can see from our own articles that no matter how advanced and esoteric they get, the absolute basic beginner's articles are still immensely popular.

Once the casting commences it's the really classic sequence; first the roll cast, then a number of principles, then an overhand cast.
Principles are fine, but I personally find that talking about casting principles to the beginning fly caster is like explaining the chemistry behind the rising bread or the thickening sauce to the beginning cook. I don't think either should worry about why, but simply understand the nature: yeast, water, flour and heat and the bread rises, flour, fat and heat and the sauce thickens.
For the fly caster it's short line, short stroke, longer line longer stroke and not learning it by being told, but by having line in the air.

Casting that Fly - Still from the Casting DVDs
Stills from the second DVD
Wide Open Outdoor Film

While I certainly agree with Lars Christian and most other instructors that practice makes perfect and that casting on a lawn is a great way of learning and improving, I sometimes wish that casting instruction always took place while fishing.
The thing is that there's a lot of difference between standing on the bank of a small pond with no wind, trees or rocks and standing on a windy flat or in a small stream in a dense forest.
Once the water reaches your crotch and waves start splashing around you, it's like being on your knees or sitting down with no clearance for a proper backcast and other things to think about than arcs and stretching leaders.
But of course you don't push new drivers right into the streets. You teach them about gear shifting and brakes on a closed course first.

The basic DVD is as I said very basic and covers the principles and the roll cast (picking up line) and the classic overhead cast.
The second one introduces spey casts, curve casts, wiggle casts and discusses presentation and drag free drifts and finally covers shooting heads and loop-to-loop connections.
In other words you get the grand tour with both DVDs, from the absolute basics to something that only few anglers will use.

There's no reason to comment on the technical quality of these DVDs because video instructor Niels Vestergaard's craft is impeccable with both video and sound being top notch. In these DVDs there are no surprises and no fancy angles, effects or production tricks. The only effect is slow motion sequences, which are very appropriate for showing the details in the casts.
The DVDs are in English, so the English speaking (or English understanding) audience will not need subtitles. The Danish version is the exact same, but just subtitled in Danish.

As I started out writing, I'm not a real big fan of casting videos. I can see where they can be useful, and it's certainly better watching a video than getting no instructions at all. But personally I'd take casting a real rod and in particular fishing over watching a video any day. But videos can of course be a help, and will inspire you to improve your casting.
These casting DVDs are as good as come, and I especially enjoyed the second one. Absolute beginners will want both, but people who can cast will learn more from the second one, and the section on shooting heads and adding loops to your lines will appeal to a lot of anglers who can benefit from this type of setup.


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