On Voodoo and Zen

Last Sunday, on Sexyloop’s frontpage, one read the following words of wisdom from Will Shaw:

One way to keep the unconscious in its box for a while is to try to do things badly. Aim to cast fat loops, and then cast tails. Aim to let casts fail by underpowering. Allow yourself/them to break the rules. It’s ok if the line hits the ground. It’s ok if the loop collapses.

Sometimes, because we aren’t worried about screwing up we find our own way into making a good cast. We prove to our unconscious that there’s nothing to worry about, and allow ourselves to learn something useful.

That’s something I’ve tried. In November, I was just desperate with the tailing loops I consistently produced. I was trying too hard, and in a state of very unrelaxed butt. Let’s face it, my casting was shit. And actually it helped me not a little when, running out of patience and courage, I started to just goof around with the line, doing the stuff Will talks about, taming the conscious mind, letting the unconscious free, in short: making silly cast.

Quite an excellent gift for a frequent flyer

What really made me free and opened the gates of (more or less) proper fly casting is the voodoo cast. Trying complicated things was part of my ‘let’s do n’importe quoi‘ program, and meant to fuck up big time. For some reason, it worked almost at first try. Now the voodoo is a mainly trick cast, in the sense that I’ll probably never actually use it while fishing, unless there are ladies to impress (a rare event indeed where I usuallly fish). But it helped me quite a lot to take it easy with the line. To let it go. To let it flow…

[Insert here a long elaboration about zen and fly casting, letting the loop happen, and all that jazz, which is all very well, but faces the same impossibility to be correctly phrased and understood as most the things the Buddha tries to teach…]

Stephan Dombaj, doing the voodoo

So, please, next time you hit the lawn (do it! your casting needs it!) remember to spend at least 20 min practicing your silly casts. As usual, the boys from Jazz and Fly fishing got it all, right on the money.

It seems to help if you do this in stunningly beautiful surroundings. Like my home waters below.


23 thoughts on “On Voodoo and Zen

    • hi marc, ^_^
      the voodoo is certainly not n’importe quoi, I never said nor implied that.
      as for the trick part, I read the following in some place (yours actually):

      “is it of any real, practical purpose when fishing ? it can’t hurt but not really.”

      At least where I am standing now, I can’t imagine a fishing situation where I would feel the need to perform it. Calling it a “mere trick” may be understood as derogatory, so I’ll edit it and write “pure trick”, and see to it that the end of the sentence is clear as to what I mean. you are right to demand precision.

      the only condescension you’ll find here concerns my casting abilities, and I mainly wanted to convey the big surprise it was for me to see the line straightening in front of me instead of ending in a mess as I anticipated. the voodoo is not a very trivial cast, and the main n’importe quoi in my program was to react to a systematic failure in the overhead cast by trying more complicated things, most of which ending in disaster. my point was: Will is right, disaster may be good, and sometimes it doesn’t happen the way you anticipate.

      • “is it of any real, practical purpose when fishing ? it can’t hurt but not really.”
        actually means that i use it all the time. it’s secret code. (or at least was, until now… :mrgreen: )
        once again, it’s of a much more practical use than you think !
        by not f’ing it up you learned something quite invaluable in fly casting.
        (at least your subconscious did)
        can you tell us what ?

          • one hour and a half this morning on the lawn… I puld him to death.
            he’s not going to bother me anytime soon, that’s for sure.

            I guess he also learnt that when you never exactly know beforehand what you can do and what you can’t. also that when you free yourself from the angst to succeed, you actually cast better. and that’s why you want to master the stuff on the lawn, because when there’s a big trout rising, that’s not when you can free yourself: you just want to nail that fucking cast.

            • that’s why you should let him do the casting… 😉

              btw, if you want to just cast for the sake of casting, stay on the grass.
              if you want to cast for fishing, go to the water.
              things are quite different.

  1. oh yeah.
    first and foremost, once you have a hook on the line, it’s a little like going from blank to real ammo with a gun. you’d better watch. tangles, bushes, everything gets worse.
    still, when you have done it ten thousand times on grass, you feel a wee bit more confident on the water.
    the biggest difference I guess is that the lawn will not teach you to mend.
    actually, in the park where I practice there’s a pond and I also work my casting on water. but there’s still a world of difference between casting on water and fishing. that hook thing.

      • yeah, but that’s because you don’t tail, my good friend.
        tail with fluff is “by Jove, a tail! let’s go easy on the forward cast”
        tail with hook is “fuck, oh fucking fuck, not AGAIN you motherfucking retard, why, O why must you push your fucking front cast like that? for fuck sake, not another fucking birdnest, shit, fucking shit, ad lib.

        what else? well, you have the stealth issue, you won’t spook the grass obviously, then you can chose your position, which implies that if you want space and ideally oriented wind, you can have it. as I said above, one of the main problem is the fish. you want the fish. you’re focused on it, you’re distracted from your cast. and you’re not relaxed, because unless you caught obscene amounts of fishes, you want that one, you’re tensed by desire.

      • well, I do that all the time, and I find that water tends to oppose the pick up (especially when the tip sinks) so the rod loads more; basically, an anchor seems to work better on water than on grass.
        I called that capillarity, it’s not that, neither is it superficial tension, but it’s probably something related to that.

        • ok, that’s better. there’s no need for fancy words, the line sticks a lot more on water and a lot less on grass.
          so, for the moment this only concerns p/u, roll casts and mends but there’s more.
          considering this ‘line stick’, how does it effect our casting as opposed to grass ?
          btw, water doesn’t load a rod more.

          • I don’t get that. if the rod loads because something opposes its movement, and the line sticks to water more than it sticks to grass, how come the line on water doesn’t load more the rod?
            I certainly feel that when picking up a line on water, I need a little more torque, so you have to adjust not to overpower: more torque but not more speed. or something like that.:mrgreen:

  2. well, yes, torque. here’s what I think I know:
    if something opposes the movement of the tip of the rod, like water retaining the line, one needs more force to rotate the butt, that’s torque for me.

    what loads the rod, if I understood anything, is inertia. its own and the one of the line compound with the torque applied by the arm.
    if the line is caught in something like water, it’s (roughly) like its mass is greater

    • wow, it’s like being on a french forum…
      look, in my opinion you’re:
      reading Sexyloops too much and in turn
      turning very simple notions into something enormously confusing
      using inappropriate physics terms

      i’m actually sorry for going into this here but to finish off the subject here’s what loads a rod:
      the caster. nothing less, nothing more.
      to understand this it’s a simple matter of adding and extracting exterior elements to see what happens.
      add any other element and it’s just variations and adaptations.
      remove the caster and nothing happens.

      • hmm. french forum…
        coming from you I know it’s derogatory, so thank you for that.
        nevertheless I keep my right to use whatever term is correct. capillarity — even if intuitive enough — wasn’t (still don’t know how to call that sticking effect). torque is. and it’s nothing fancy. any mechanic worth his motor oil knows what it is.

        next, it is rather obvious that the caster is the efficient cause for loading, but when someone says that a rod loads by inertia, he’s saying that, everything else being equal, load varies with inertia (the heavier the rod tip or the line, the greater the load)
        so in this case ‘what’s the difference between grass and water w.r.t. pick up ?”
        all I was saying is that with line in water, you pull it harder to pick it up, but then “pull” is several things, so my answer is “more force needed to rotate butt”.
        only, more force translate into greater bend, which calls for adjustment.

        I have the strange feeling that all this boils down to different formulations of the same.
        as a matter of personal twist of mind, I have to build a theory of what’s happening to react properly to it. call it déformation professionnelle if you want. that usually involves some complicated formulations or technical terms. I’m sorry if it gets on your nerves. I’m not trying to boast or anything, just to understand and provide my best answer to your initial question.

        you are right about my reading a lot of ‘loops (and flyforums and everything I can get my mouse on), but in my trade there’s no such thing as reading too much.

  3. i have the draft of a document that explains all this very well.
    something even an intellectual can understand :mrgreeen:
    i’ll pass it on to you as soon as i have the permission to share it.
    in the meantime, enjoy your inertia… 😆

    • ^_^
      I certainly will, and look forward to read that.
      I quite like technical concepts. don’t you? once you get the correct meaning, they usually save you a lot of unnecessary talk.
      But I’m always eager to correct my wrongs. if you ave a better/simpler account of the difference between pick up on grass and water, I’m all ears.

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