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The Essence Of Flycasting 1 DVD by Mel Krieger

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Reviewed by Pete Sutton

The Essence of Flycasting, now on DVD, has long been accepted as standard education for all aspiring instructors and for those wanting to understand casting better and improve their own performance. Pete Sutton, and APGAI instructor, reviews Mel Kriegr's DVD.

When I first became very interested in fly casting, in the early 1990s, as opposed to just going fly fishing and trying to catch fish, one of the people I turned to for inspiration and guidance was Mel Krieger. Steve Parton recommended his book, The Essence of Flycasting - published in 1987 - so I bought it from him.

I was impressed with the book and it was a great help to me in beginning to understand fly casting and how it works, and as I followed the written instruction so my casting technique began to improve. A year or so later I bought, direct from the USA, Krieger's video The Essence of Flycasting 2, which has some great shots of Steve Rajeff casting both a full fly line and a shooting head, and this further helped my understanding and progress.

When Guide Flyfishing began importing Krieger's videos I added The Essence of Flycasting 1 to my collection. Of course I should have bought this before I bought part two but I've always been impatient and I thought that I could skip straight to part two. However part one is important being the corner stone for building good basic technique, and although there is nothing in the video that isn't in the book it is nice to se the casts being performed by the author.

I believe that The Essence of Flycasting 1 is amongst the very best filmed casting instruction available, and only Joan Wulff's Dynamics of Flycasting and Bill Gammel's Teach Yourself to Flycast are comparable, and I honestly believe that it is possible for a reasonably well co-ordinated individual to teach themselves to cast from The Essence---. It was, in fact, this source of information that was largely responsible for getting me to the stage that I was able to take and pass the assessment for APGAI, with encouragement and help from Michael Evans.

Essence takes you logically through flycasting from the very first steps through to the double haul and some simple presentation casts. Krieger's method of teaching the double haul using a miming technique, without rod or line in hand to confuse things, is just brilliant and is the way I learned to double haul properly after years of doing it - well, nearly right. I have since used this same technique to teach dozens more how to double haul, and a good student can learn it literally in ten minutes.

Whilst the explanations are clear and logical and largely well explained the main strength of this film is Krieger himself, he is full of an infectious enthusiasm which inspires and makes you want to get out there and do it, but more than this he brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge which makes you want to believe and get out there and practice. All the best instruction in the world is of no use without practice, which of course is a most important aspect of learning and perfecting any skill - practice, practice and more practice.

Is there anything about this film, which I believe should be done differently? Well yes, the first is the way he says the roll cast should be done with a strong downward chopping movement and although this will work well enough and is a good way to teach the importance of leading the forward cast with the elbow, I and I think most other instructors these days, would teach the roll cast as more of a wristy flick. The second negative, concerns his statement that the back cast and forward cast should travel along different plains, this is incorrect and I think that Krieger himself would now acknowledge this, although in the past numbers of instructors taught casting this way. It is now universally accepted that when performing the overhead cast, the back and forward movement must occur in exactly the same plain and this is especially important when long distances are being cast. This is usually referred to now as 'tracking' and all good casters spend a great deal of time and work very hard on getting this right.

Essence of Flycasting has long been accepted as standard education for all aspiring instructors and for those just wishing to understand casting a bit better and improve their own performance and I suspect that it will remain so for a long time to come. I recommend it.

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