Taken from the FFF ClubWire – October 2004 Issue
One Mississippi Two
By Allen Crise – FFF Certified Master Instructor
Now what would you think of someone driving along in traffic or walking along the side walk, thinking that no one is watching them, raising their arm and hand to along side there head Saying “One- Mississippi- Two.” If you have been to Fly Fishing Casting Class with Allen Crise, of Ft Worth Fly Fishers, it might not seem so strange. You might walk up to them and add a
little help by saying ‘Don’t let your wrist break back”. Or “Make that an Up cast not just a Back cast.”
I have been teaching fly casting at many of the fly fishing shows around Texas and for the FFF. Part of the casting class is muscle training. Using the hand and arm like it might be holding a six-gun (cowboy at heart). Keeping the rod tip low to start. The Student is taught to raise his arm, hand and elbow to lift the rod high enough to get the rod hand up to the student’s ear. In Texas I have the typical bass caster bait caster or spinning fisher person. They have been casting with anything but a fly rod for years. Their style is easy to recognize. The hand is kept low the elbow is held at the side, the cast is performed with a flick of the wrist. Ending with an extended forearm. My teaching for fly casting is to stop all the habits that they have learned to do, to cast a lure or bobber over a worm. To do this I start my class of about 10 students set up with 5 wt outfits from 7-1/2 to 9 ft. I try to keep the shorter rod for the smaller students.
I have found that the shorter rods are easier for the smaller students or kids to learn to cast. I think it is the weight that has to be STOPPED, to perform the fly cast that gives a 60 to 80 pound student the trouble. The shorter light weight rods make it that much easier, just moving and stopping less weight.
After a short introduction to the equipment covering the weighted fly line, rod length and action, how to hold the rod. The single action reel how to grip the reel handle with the finger tips. I have them pull out 20 feet of line. They of course go to waving the rods. This is OK with me. As this
gets them a custom to the rod and flying line. I will demonstrate good cast, bad cast and the reasons for both, with ‘my rod’. I try to never take a rod from the student’s hand. If I have to show them I place my hand on theirs.
”OK Everyone set their rods on the ground”.
“Time for some muscle training”. In every sport we have been taught we had a “Follow Though”.
Batting, bowling, tennis, golf. In Fly Casting we have STOPS. It is the STOP that make this rod cast a weighted fly line 70, 80 or over 100 feet. To train the body to perform the stops we are going to do a little body training.
OK everyone hold a six-gun We are from TEXAS Right?
Of course we keep the barrel down at the ground safely pointed down. This is the same place we keep the fly rod tip. Right at the water, Raise you arm so you palm is facing your ear. That is right. See up by my hat brim. STOP. Move your hand forward about 6 inches STOP. Lower your elbow to your side. REST.
Now to get the line flowing behind you, you will have to pause to let the 30 ft line travel back this is the timing and the hardest part for many to get. Lets call the stops STOP one and STOP two. For the pause I want you to say the word “Mississippi”. So it goes like this. Raise the hand to the ear say ONE- MISSISSIPPI move the hand forward six inches. Say TWO STOPPING the rod lower the arm/ elbow to the side, REST. The numbers one and two are STOPS. All the fly casting you will be doing will for a while will have these two STOPS a back or up cast STOP and a Forward cast STOP. You can do this exercise while watching TV or waiting for the Bathroom, those of you with teenage daughters will get a lot of practice. Ok pick up your rod. Lets see some great STOPS.”
I then show them one more time some great stops and loops. I explain the loops and how they carry the line. I have them pull out the fly line to have about 30 feet out. I have marked the fly lines at thirty feet with three permanent marker rings. I then go to each student and placing my hand on theirs and my other hand under the elbow. WE do some easy ‘Pick up and Laydown’ cast. I keep the casting as soft and easy as I can. Not letting them over power the cast. All the while saying “One-Mississippi-Two, Rest”. The hand under the elbow ensures that they are raising the elbow and arm and not giving me a lazy wrist cast. Repeating the “One Mississippi, Two, Rest” rhythm to ensure the pause and timing of the cast. Watching for the breaking wrist of a spin caster. I spend about 5 or 6 cast with each student. ensuring that they have the feel of the cast and the reward of watching the line travel full length on the forward cast.
For some women and kids I will change to the word POWER for the speed up and stop of the cast, if they are not using enough power to get the line out. I use hula hoops as targets set at 35 ft or so. This is to gives a sense of a goal achieved, when they see the yarn fly land in the ring. I am trying to instill how easy it is to make a good 40 ft cast with out the Power that spinning or plug casting requires. I try to get to each student twice. Reinforcing the timing and form. One. Mississippi, Two rest. is something they can take home.
This is a quick overview of my group classes where I have many students to teach and expose in a few minutes I do cover a lot more, as I am demonstrating the good cast and bad cast. I will cover the loop, how to form and how it carries the line. How many different ways you can cast i.e. side arm, cross body, back handed, and how the wind will effect the cast you choose. If I have “Casting Coaches’ Helping they soon pick up on the rhythm of the timing and casting.
I will have them place the rods on the ground as I give some important information. This does two things. One it give the arms a rest. and it opens the ears. Some people can not hear with a fly rod in their hand. (If you are 12 years old for sure.)
Equipment names are given so that if I say the stripping guide, grip or the butt of the rod they know what I am talking about. This is a running dialog as I give them tips and how-to’s of fly casting. Shooting line is demonstrated as is mending and slack line control.
I never leave a class without giving them a how-to on ‘fighting a fish’. Now to hold the rod. How high to hold the rod and how-to strip in the fly line. I feel that if I leave this part off I have not cover the important of fly fishing, catching the fish. There is something wrong if I see a student running up the bank dragging the fish behind him saying “Ol’ Al sure did teach me how to fly fish”. I snap a mouse trap or fly box on the leader end. Then have them retrieve the “Fish” with out lifting it off the grass, or ground. This is a very helpful training aid that will very quickly teach that they can not wind up all the line and lift the fish in the boat, as a bass fisher will do. They have to “go to the fish”. This is also a time to teach the Release part of our creed.