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Filming on the Fly - Filmed on The Ribble and on The Teviot

December 9th, 2013 by Tom Bell 0 comments

By Tom Bell, Qualified AAPGAI Instructor,

What is the film about?

Tom Bell recently posted Black Rivera video he made about speycasting, which got quite popular and the people who watched it commented that it really reflected how they felt about fishing.

The biggest insight came from a non-angler who said he knew nothing about fly fishing but it made him want to try. As an instructor that’s probably the best thing anyone can say to you. As an actor and film maker, it’s really what I was hoping to get across.

This blog is about Tom's experience whilst training for his instructors license, it is also goes beyond that and into narrative, where the camera is a tool to tell your story. The most important thing is the story. The more honest, truthful and unique, the better. 


OK, so everyone runs out to buy the go pro,  and for good reason, to my mind they are the best thing you can buy for £340 on earth, especially when you look at what was available before. Hang on though, does owning a go pro make you a film maker as much as owning a RED camera makes you Quentin Tarantino? No of course not. It’s how you use them that counts.

I filmed Black River on my own mostly, using a Canon 5D MK2, a static tripod and regular 50mm 1.4 prime lens. I edited it in Final Cut, threw some Magic Bullet grading on there and borrowed some cool music. 

Enter Eoin Fairgrieve. 

Eoin and I filmed the casting shots on the Teviot using his go pro. Eoin was really familiar with that camera and whilst he describes himself as someone in the fishing industry, to me, he would have been just at home on a studio floor.

Yes, you can strap the go pro onto a rod and make the triple snake oozlum wongo cast and you can float it down Niagra Falls as they were designed for extreme sports, for viewers to experience the experience.

To make a film about speycasting is to ask yourself why you speycast. Now we don’t have to rush out and buy Jean Paul Satre books to answer that question but googling the name is a start.

Why I fish!

I fish because I always have. I started when I was a boy. That’s about as much as I know. A good place to start thinking about your story is to start thinking like the boy. Immediately you are dealing with truth, the personality and the human element of a ‘casting video’ not the showy aspects of a triple double whammy spey.

The Film

Have a clear vision of what you want to say, then pick up the tool that will help you tell it. So, the 5D was perfect for the ‘Steelhead Dreams’ feel, the crunching ice and shallow depth of field. The go pro is the cheapest lens on earth you can throw under water. It’s got an amazing wide field of view and deep depth of view, perfect for capturing fly casting that is in focus.

Now you can throw in your fancy casting. The music dictated the pace of the video which is why it’s mostly in slow motion. One point about music, aside from the copyright issues, is it’s almost more important than the film. Get the soundtrack wrong and it can be nauseating. What you personally listen to at home, 9 times out of 10, is not what will work on a film.

Essentially it’s about thinking like an individual. I was asked to produce a film for a tackle shop and when I visited the shop I noticed a fly tying bench slap bang in the heart of the shop. There were books strewn over the bench, materials, hooks, everything you need to create flies.

On that bench was the story, laid out for me. All I had to do as the film maker was piece together the events leading up to that bench looking like that. I saw the person in my mind, locked into a task, focused intently on what they were doing, unaware of the world around them. Isn’t that why we fly fish? To become unaware of one world and highly aware of another?

So, I have built my narrative around that inspiration and I start filming in January. All I need now is the right tool. I encourage all of you new go pro owners to take a pause, think about what makes you think, think about who you are and think about where you want to be. Read one chapter of Satre and now press record.

For details of my speycasting instruction services, more fishing images and the Black River film visit

He runs a salmon fishing course on the River Shin in April. The course is run by AAPGAI instructors and the accommodation is within the Estate property. The cottage sleeps 13 anglers although we are only offering 6 rods. The package includes first class catering. Please get in touch via for more information.

View the video here.

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