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

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try InvizX

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try InvizX

Seaguar Invizx has become my go to fluorocarbon tippet material, and some of my Troutbitten friends do the same. It’s thin, strong and flexible with excellent handling and flex. Invizx is as good as some fly shop brands and better than many others. And because the type of tippet we use is not what catches trout, I don’t overspend on tippet . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Learning to use the natural curve that’s present in every cast produces better drag free drifts than does a straight line.

It takes proficiency on both the forehand and backhand.

I’ve seen some anglers resist casting backhand, just because it’s uncomfortable at first. But, by avoiding the backhand, half of the delivery options are gone. So, open up the angles, understand the natural curve and get better drag free drifts on the dry fly . . .

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

A steady and balanced sighter is important from the beginning, because effective tight line drifts are short. But there’s one overlooked way to stabilize the sighter immediately — tuck the rod butt into the forearm.

Here’s how and why . . .

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Regardless of the leader choice, angle of delivery, or distance in the cast, every tight liner must choose whether to lead, track or guide the flies downstream. So the question here is how do you fish these rigs, not how they are put together.

Good tracking is about letting the flies be more affected by the current than our tippet. Instead of bossing the flies around and leading them downstream, we simply track their progress in the water.

Tracking is the counterpoint to leading. Instead of controlling the speed and position of the nymphs through the drift, we let the flies find their own way . . .

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Rod tip recovery is the defining characteristic of a quality fly rod versus a mediocre one.

Cast the rod and watch it flex. Now see how long it takes for the rod tip to stop shaking. Watch for a complete stop, all the way to a standstill — not just the big motions, but the minor shuddering at the end too.

Good rods recover quickly. They may be fast or slow. They may be built for power or subtly, but they recover quickly. They return to their original form in short order.

Here’s why . . .

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

One of the joys of fly fishing is problem solving. There are so many tools available, with seemingly infinite tactics to discover, it seems like any difficult situation on the water can be solved. Perhaps it can. For those anglers who search for answers in tough moments, the prospect of solving a puzzle builds lasting hope into every cast. And after seasons on the water, the game becomes not how many trout we can catch, but how many ways those trout can be caught. Then, when presented with conditions that chase fair-weather fishers off the water, we rise to the moment with a tested solution, perfectly adapted and suited for the variables at hand.

There is not one way. There are a hundred ways. And the best anglers are prepared with all of them.

One of them is the slidable foam pinch on indy . . .

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.

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest