Upcoming Courses and Workshops 2023

Education/ Fly Fisher Development

“Fly fishers come from all walks of life. Their common threads are a sincere appreciation and reverence for their quarry, a curiosity that leads them at all levels of their experience to be an advancing angler, and an endless joy in pursuit of the sport.” Neil L. Jennings, 1984. Country Pleasures Fly Fishing Handbook. Trutta Holdings Ltd. (pub) Calgary, AB


Annual Introduction to Fly Fishing Course

“No sport affords a greater field for observation and study than fly fishing, and it is the close attention paid to the minor happenings upon the stream that marks the finished angler.” George M.L. LaBranche, 1914. The Dry Fly and Fast Water


Mid-Island Castaways Fly Fishing Club offers a comprehensive course annually called ‘Introduction to Fly Fishing on Vancouver Island’. The course is designed to inspire beginners and anglers new to fly fishing on Vancouver Island to work towards becoming ‘finished anglers’. The two-day, two-evening course is typically held in May. It covers the basics of fly casting, safety, equipment selection, knot tying, fly selection, fish ecology, where and when to fly fish, habitat conservation and community engagement. A trip to a local river to learn about stream ecology and how to present a fly is included. Club fly rods are provided for students to use during the course.

Single-Hand Fly Casting Clinics

“If you have never picked up a fly rod before, you will find it is factually and theologically true that man, by nature, is a damn mess.” Norman Maclean, 1976. A River Runs Through It

Casting and presenting a fly to a fish are acquired skills requiring practice even if you are an accomplished caster. Wether you are new to fly fishing, have old bad casting habits that need tuning up, or you would like to advance your skills with a single-hand fly rod, the Castaways offers clinics to help you develop your casting skills. Classes are regularly held during the late fall and into the spring as weather permits. During the winter, announcements are made a few days in advance owing to unstable weather and uncertain forecasts. Foundational casting skills include learning how to handle equipment, casting styles, essential biomechanics, basic casts including the roll cast, pick-up and lay-down cast, and false casting. More advanced skills include accuracy, double-hauling to increase line speed and efficiency, distance casting and single-hand spey casts. The adage that ‘lessons are not to take the place of practice but to make practice worthwhile’ is emphasized by providing students with drills they can practice at home.

Single-hand Fly Casting Skills Development Program

“One cannot really learn to cast a fly or tie a knot by reading a book” Neil L. Jennings, 1984. Country Pleasures Fly Fishing Handbook. Trutta Holdings Ltd. (pub) Calgary, AB.

The Castaways Fly Casting Skills Development Program (FCSD) consists of a four-level sequence of skill building tasks. It is modelled closely after a program developed by Fly Fishers International (FFI), of which several Castaways instructors are members. The close alignment of the Castaways program with the FFI program is designed to prepare our members to successfully participate in the FFI program should they wish to do so. The program adds some skills at Levels III and IV that are useful for stream and river fishing on Vancouver Island. The FCSD program is intended to be a fun activity for members to develop skills at their own pace and to serve as a basis for lesson plans offered by instructors. The Club issues a certificate to participants to recognize their achievement in mastering an FCSD skill level.

Level I Foundation skills for beginners: handling equipment, loading the rod, forming loops, proper power, stops, pause and plane, accuracy to 30 ft targets, lob casts.

Level II Basic skills: Pick-up-lay-down both sides and horizontal, shooting line, accuracy to 25 and 35 ft targets, static roll cast, casting to 50 ft.

Level III Intermediate skills: PULD and shoot line both sides, constant tension casts, off-side static roll cast, dynamic roll cast, change of direction cast, accuracy to 20, 30, 40 ft, reach mends both sides, hauling, distance to 60 ft target.

Level IV Advanced skills: loop control, seated cast and shoot line, curve casts, slack line presentations, roll cast pickup and shoot, double spey, snap-T, back cast presentation, off-shoulder casting to targets, double haul, distance to 70+ feet.

Two-Hand Fly Casting Clinics

“If, as we form our loop, we do not allow sufficient line to kiss the water at the vital moment of our power stroke, the line will crack and as like as not, we shall lose our fly.” Hugh Falkus 1994. Spey Casting: A New Technique.

‘Spey casting’ originated in Scotland and Wales in the mid-1800s. Although this popularized name derives from the River Spey, a large river in Scotland, two-hand fly casting was originally referred to as the Welsh Throw. It was practiced with very long fly rods (20 feet or longer) made from pieces of greenheart, a very hard wood imported from British Guiana, that were spliced together to make a flexible, although very heavy fly rod. Most modern spey rods are made from tapered graphite blanks, although bamboo rods remain highly valued by some more traditional fly fishers. Spey casting evolves from elaboration of the roll cast into the highly energized and efficient switch cast, then into change of direction casts of two types: touch-and-go, and sustained anchor casts. The single spey cast and snake roll are examples of touch-and-go casts, while the double spey, snap-T and Perry poke are sustained anchor casts. All spey casts can be done with a single-hand rod, but greater efficiency, casting distances and line control can be achieved with double-hand rods. So-called ‘switch rods’ are simply short spey rods ranging from 10.5 feet to 12 feet long. Rods longer than 12 feet are called spey rods. The Castaways Club offers double-hand fly casting clinics in March and April. Lessons begin with foundation movements of the forward cast, then focus on forming static and dynamic D-loops, and progress to change-of-direction spey casts.

Fly Casting Instructors

“The quintessence of learning is doing. The quintessence of teaching is inspiration” Mel Kreiger. 1993. Observations on teaching fly casting. Federation of Fly Fishers

The Castaways has a corp of members dedicated to teaching other members to improve their casting skills for either single or two-hand techniques. Instructors meet frequently to practice to improve their casting and teaching skills. There is always a need to recruit people who are interested in improving both their demonstration and teaching skills. Please ask an instructor about participating in this important function of the club.

Fly Tying Courses

“… there is nothing quite like the feeling that comes over you when a fish takes a fly you have tied; disbelief, delight, then smug satisfaction!” Joan Wulff (The First Lady of Fly Fishing).

Fly tying, like any new art form requires some basic knowledge, patience, and practice to build craft skills. It also requires knowledge of the food fish eat and how to imitate it. During February and March the Castaways offers fly tying classes at beginners and intermediate levels. The Beginners Course is presented in a series of five sessions; each session is three hours long. This course is geared towards the fly fisher who has never tied flies before, learning under the step by step guidance of experienced fly tyers. All necessary equipment and materials are provided and loaned out as a kit. This allows students to take equipment home to practice between classes and to have the option of attending the club’s Monthly Fly-Tying Nights in February and March.

The Intermediate Fly Tying Course is also offered in a series of five sessions at the same time and location as the beginner sessions. This course takes tying to the next level, where you will be tying flies with patterns that challenge your skills while guided by accomplished fly tiers. Intermediate students are required to supply their own tools; materials are provided.

Fly-of-the-month sessions are offered on Wednesday evenings of the week following monthly general meetings. One does not need to tie flys to attend. These are informative sessions about fly fishing in general while offering instruction on crafting seasonally relevant fly patterns.

Fly Fishing Skills: Workshops and Other Learning

“Fish are wild animals and behave as such—“this should be the sole basis for your angling strategy”. The angler becomes the “predator” and the fish the “prey”; prey behave in predictable ways. If there is a mistake made in this relationship it is usually the angler who screws up the predator side.” Dave Peterson, u.d. Understanding Freshwater Behavior. Fly Fishers International.

Much like golf, fly fishing is a sport that is forever challenging. Learning how to do it is a life long journey that requires understanding fish biology and behaviour, reading the water, biomechanics of casting, selecting rods, lines and reels appropriate for use in various situations, and tying flies as art, or to catch specific fish you target. Indeed, thousands of books have been written about every aspect of our sport. Having the skills that allow one to present a fly in such a way to catch and land a fish is the culmination of everything you have learned through study, practice and experience, and the journey never ends. In addition to the learning opportunities described above, Mid-Island Castaways offers occasional courses and workshops on fly fishing skills. Past workshops and invited presentations have included still water fishing, beach and river fishing for salmon, fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout, small watercraft boat shows and the Japanese art of Tenkara. Watch for announcements provided by email to club members.