European Fly Casting Developments and Trends
There have not been too many new things appearing on the flycasting stage in Central Europe in the last years. 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 flycasting foreward 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 analysed, 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.
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 UK these casts were used with double hand rods only whereas the use of them with single handers started in Sweden and and later in the Alps and set foot in UK only within the last 10-15 years. At least when I demonstrated for the first time at famous Chatsworth Angling Fair in 1996 they were completely unknown and not part of any demo programme of UK fly casters at all.
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 lead to a lot of confusion among fly fishermen around the world. Some other techniques (Snake and Turbot Roll Casts, ...) come from 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 developement in two handed casting, too.
My own contributions to the development of fly casting are meanwhile known as Snap-T(my beginners verision is aka Circle Cast), Snap-C, the backhand high hauling technique, the Magic Switch(a technique based on the Underhand principle with additional optimizing in regard of 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 flycasting instructor scenery in Europe is meanwhile very well connected through the EFFA Flycasting Instructor Programme, world's toughest flycasting instructor programme and intends to develope new and better teaching methods which will help to make their flycasting classes even more efficient. The EFFA Flycasting Instructor Program is a very useful mean 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 few years at fly fishing shows one could recognize a slight change what the presentations are concerned. Mainly because nothing new was developed what techniques are concerned some organizers started to invite people for demos whose main purpose is to present a long straight forward cast no matter with the single or double hand rod. Therefore they use ultra long belly WF lines exceeding 20m 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. 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.
It means to adapt to the situations, presenting trick casts which make a drag-free drift possible or make our nymphs sink faster and to handle situations where nearly no back space 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.