Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #27– The First Cast Curse

by | Jan 28, 2018 | 3 comments

How many times have you waded into position, settled your boots into the shifting gravel bed, taken a deep breath, and caught a trout on the first cast?

If you’ve fished for many seasons at all, you surely have a bunch of stories like this: where the first cast produced a fish, and then . . . not much else happened.

It’s the first cast curse. Superstitions abound in our sport of uncertainty and chance, and among the Troutbitten guys, catching a trout on the first cast is never a good thing.

“Ohhh . . . no!” Now you’re screwed.”

Maybe it’s not the first cast, but somewhere in the first handful of casts, or just the first spot. Whatever the case, anglers often encounter success right away, and then we can’t duplicate it moving forward.

Again, in a sport shrouded by uncertainty and knotted up with puzzling on-the-water events, I hesitate to draw conclusions about much of anything. But I do have a theory for the first cast curse.

When we’re doing the first of anything, we choose the most favorable setup. When walking to the river in dry boots, we certainly enter the water at a good spot, right? We don’t pick garbage water. We’re fishermen. We scan the river, pick out a juicy place where fish live, and start there.

And if I relocate, if I hike a few hundred yards upstream, I repeat the same process; I pick a wonderful place to start all over again. Likewise, when I change rigs (if I swap out for dry flies, for example) I have some time to look at the water as I rig up.  And whether consciously or not, I surely choose a prime place to lay my dry fly on the water for the first time.

Changes are a reset. The next trip, a new day, the evening shift, another stream — they’re all a chance for us to reset. And when we reset, we naturally pick an auspicious starting point for the first cast.

I think this is what accounts for the first cast curse. Or more to the point, the curse comes if we fail to see the water with the same discerning eyes moving forward. When we’ve fished out the first pocket, or the first tailout, and it’s time to move on, we may not see the water with such newness, with such focused perception. We just wade upstream and keep fishing. We might get trapped in a nearsighted rhythm, blinded by our own failure to actively approach each piece of water with fresh eyes.

The first cast is blessed. It has all the forethought, all the planning and patience behind a fly line, carrying the fly to its divine target.

But the second cast? The second spot? Usually?  Not so much.

Just something to think about.

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

VIDEO | Streamers on the Mono Rig: Episode 2 — Casting

VIDEO | Streamers on the Mono Rig: Episode 2 — Casting

The Troutbitten video series, Streamers on the Mono Rig continues with Episode Two, covering the unique possibilities and the demands of casting.

Fishing streamers on the Mono Rig offers anglers ultimate control over the direction and action of their flies — all the way through the drift. And while small streamers may need nothing more than a nymphing-style cast, mid-sized and full-sized streamers require a few changes in casting to get the most from the technique . . .

You Need Contact

You Need Contact

Success in fly fishing really comes down to one or two things. It’s a few key principles repeated over and over, across styles, across water types and across continents. The same stuff catches trout everywhere. And one of those things . . . is contact.

. . . No matter what adaptations are made to the rig at hand, the game is about being in touch with the fly. And in some rivers, contact continues by touching the bottom with something, whether that be a fly or a split shot. Without contact, none of this works. Contact is the tangible component between success and failure.

Streamer Presentations — The Touch and Go

Streamer Presentations — The Touch and Go

Want to get deep? Want to be sure the fly is low enough? Try the Touch and Go.

Sometimes, I don’t drift or strip the streamer all the way through. Instead, I plot a course for the fly, looking through the water while reading the river’s structure. And I look for an appropriate landing zone for the Touch and Go . . .

Turnover

Turnover

In short, turnover gives us freedom to choose what happens with the line that’s tethered to the fly. How does the tippet and leader land? With contact or with slack? And where does it land? In the seam and partnered with the fly, or in an adjacent current? By having mastery of turnover, we dictate the positioning of not just the fly, but the leader itself. And nothing could be more important . . .

Regarding Classic Upstream Nymphing

Regarding Classic Upstream Nymphing

Classic upstream nymphing feels a lot like fishing dry flies. The challenge of making precision casts is there; it can be employed at extra distance if necessary, and it’s most often performed with tight loops and light flies than don’t change the cast.

While pure tight line nymphing is performed with no line on the water, classic upstream nymphing does the opposite.

Then there’s the induced take and floating the sighter . . .

The Case for Shorter Casts

The Case for Shorter Casts

Find water you can fish close up, and work on deadly accurate casting. You’ll find that, when fishing shorter, you can fish harder. Instead of hoping a trout eats or wishing for a strike, the kind of precision possible at short range lets you make something happen with intention . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

3 Comments

  1. Dom, I think you have made a good point regarding the care taken with the first cast. I would add that I am convinced that the first trout caught disturbs the environment of that carefully chosen spot and can alert the other trout using nearby water. This is especially true for clear,”skinny” or flat water. Changing flies and resting the pool after a “lucky” first cast, is good advise, especially for risers.

    Reply
  2. No poker player wants to win the first hand for the same reason. catching a fish on the first cast seems to signal the very abrupt end to the quickest of good luck periods: one cast. Just one more piece of evidence that the ‘Fish Gods’ are real. (Maybe a topic for a future article? You do believe in the Fish Gods?)

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest