What are the benefits of a day with a professional fly casting instructor?

Admittedly, I was a little sceptical at first – after all, I have been fly fishing for around 15 years! I would describe myself as an average fly fisherman: when I am fishing, I can concentrate on the fishing itself or on reading the water and don't have to constantly think about casting. I can do the normal overhead cast just as well as the roll cast, and even the halfway correct mending of the fly line doesn't cause me any headaches. If the conditions are right, I catch my fish without any problems; preferably with a dry fly, but also with a nymph or a streamer. So, what would a day with a certified fly-casting instructor bring me?

Well, with the average repertoire of a fly fisherman, you can quickly be out of luck, for example when a beautiful marble trout is rising under an overhanging branch in a backwater area on the opposite bank and is also protected by a strong current between me and it. In this situation, it is impossible to present the fly normally – either the fly lands on the branch above the trout or the fly pattern starts to drift unnaturally as soon as my fly line is pulled downstream by the strong current. In other situations, too, the average fly fisherman often wishes he had a little more control over the line and thus the fly, not just being able to cast straight ahead and make better use of the various currents. In most cases, it's not even about particularly long casts, but rather about being able to systematically fish those promising places that seem ‘unreachable’ for the average fly fisherman.

My partner must have realised somehow that my fishing skills are just mediocre, which to be honest doesn't surprise me - I often told her that I should really take the time to learn how to fly fish much better. And, as attentive as she is, she had a voucher on the table for my 39th birthday - for a day of fly fishing with Arnold Gufler.

Arnold Gufler Fly Casting Insctructor

Arnold Gufler, the only full-time fly casting instructor and certified guide in South Tyrol (photo copyright Arnold Gufler)

I have known and appreciated Arnold's professionalism for some time, especially since he is the only certified fly casting instructor (EFFA) and fly fishing guide (EFFA) in South Tyrol who works full-time.

On 15 June last year, the day with Arnold on the Passer was on the programme. Sorry that it took me almost a whole year to put this blog post online.

Over a morning coffee, I told Arnold that my main goal for the day was not to catch as many fish as possible, but to improve my casting technique. Before we went to the water, he therefore watched me cast for about 30 minutes on a meadow. His analysis was accurate (ps. I had deliberately not mentioned my ‘casting problems’ beforehand), and I summarised them briefly as follows:

1) I had to deal with the so-called ‘tailing loop’ from time to time, especially when shooting the fly line or fly for the last time before casting. The tailing loop occurs when the upper part of the line crosses the lower part during the forward movement of the normal overhead cast, causing it to become entangled. I never really knew what the reason was. Thanks to Arnold, I now know that in my case it was due to too much force in the last forward movement.

2) Secondly, Arnold noticed that I often tend to start the forward movement too quickly while still in the backward movement, i.e. before the line has fully stretched backwards. I had never noticed this, with the result that I did not take advantage of the full ‘charging’ of the fly rod and thus wasted a lot of unnecessary energy - without achieving maximum casting distances.

3) I had been aware for some time that I often tilt my wrist when casting – somehow I had got into the habit of doing this over time. Personally, it didn't bother me too much – after all, I was still able to fish successfully. Nevertheless, I now know that I should stop tilting my wrist, as it has many disadvantages: for example, the loop of the fly line opens more or less when casting forward, which in turn means greater air resistance and thus shorter casting distances or more unnecessary effort.

Fly fishing in a difficult area

Me fishing in a rather turbulent section of the Passer, watched by Arnold Gufler

Here's my casting mistake - tilting the wrist has many disadvantages (video)

After casting on the meadow, we went straight to the water (Passer). At my request, we mainly practised fishing difficult places with the dry fly, for example by changing direction during the cast. In my opinion, there is nothing better than outwitting a wild trout with the dry fly – and not just at moments when our beloved fish are rising anyway. By the late afternoon, I had also managed to catch a few wild trout (mainly rainbow, but also a marble trout) with a bushy attractor fly (dry fly) in places that I would certainly have left out before. It's simply a pleasure to be able to fish successfully in places that were previously taboo by refining your own casting style.

Arnold Gufler Fly Casting Insctructor

Me trying to cast a fat, rising rainbow trout in the current under the bank

As mentioned at the beginning, Arnold Gufler is characterised by his professionalism. He patiently explains things again and again that you don't understand right away or are not able to put into practice. In addition to his expertise, Arnold is also very good at teaching - he knows how to explain even the more complex techniques of fly fishing in an easy-to-understand way.

Arnold Gufler Fliegensicherschule
A wild rainbow trout on a dry fly

Pictures: left Arnold Gufler in action (photo copyright Arnold Gufler), right rainbow trout on dry fly (attractor fly)


To be honest, it's not easy to unlearn the casting mistakes you've made over the years. Arnold recorded my casting mistakes on video and made them available to me - so I can continue to practice at my local waters and remind myself at any time what exactly I'm doing wrong or have done wrong.

When I look back to the beginning of my "fly fishing career", I am sorry that I did not immediately take advantage of a professional fly casting instructor. I probably would not have acquired these casting mistakes, which are difficult to eradicate in retrospect. In conclusion, I can only advise every beginner not to learn fly fishing on their own, but to trust a professional like Arnold.

Even for advanced or average fly fishermen, it is certainly worthwhile to spend at least one day a year with a professional casting instructor to improve your casting technique and expand your fly fishing horizons. I am sure that professional fly casting instructors like Arnold can teach you tricks and tips that you would never have thought of on your own in a lifetime.

So if you want to follow my advice and have already planned a holiday in South Tyrol in the beautiful Passeier Valley, I recommend you take the opportunity. A fly fishing day with Arnold Gufler on the Passer is definitely worth the money.

Click here to visit the website of Arnold Gufler's fly fishing school and see the full programme of courses for 2019.

PS: I didn't write this blog post because I was/am enthusiastic about the day I spent with Arnold Gufler - I only wrote it because Arnold paid me millions for it! wink

Markus Heiss, May 2019


Ich bin der Meinung das ein Tag Fliegenfischen mit Arnold eine super Sache ist. LG Georg Mörl

Georg M., 17.11.21 17:02

Ich freue mich, dass du mit dem Arnold an einen der guten geraten bist. Die Passer ist nicht ganz einfach, ich kenne sie ein wenig. Sag dem Arnold bitte ganz liebe Grüße, wir wollen ja irgendwann mal zusammen an der Passer fischen. LG Wolfgang Fabisch

Wolfgang F., 26.09.20 19:48
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Markus Heiss
Markus Heiss
Fly fisherman
Job: Business owner
Hobbies: Fishing, experiencing nature, mountain running
His father introduced him to fishing as a child in the Sarntal valley in South Tyrol (as a 'poacher', of course wink) and this passion was rekindled after puberty with good experiences in spinning and sabiki rig fishing. Since 2003, Markus has fished almost exclusively with the fly - as often as possible with the dry fly. In 2008 he turned his hobby into a profession, founding this shop and running it together with his partner Petra. In addition, Markus loves being in nature with his family and, a few years ago, discovered the fascination of mountain running.
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