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

The Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing

The Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing

Here’s an overview of the essential skills for tight line and euro nymphing. A good grasp and facility for these techniques prepares an angler for all the variations available on a tight line.

These skills are best learned in order, as none of them can be performed without the ones that precede it. So too, these are the steps taken in a single cast and drift, from beginning to end . . .

The Fundamental Mistake of Tight Line and Euro Nymphing Anglers

The Fundamental Mistake of Tight Line and Euro Nymphing Anglers

The critical tight liner’s skills must be learned up close before they can ever be performed at distance. There are no shortcuts.

Your next time out with a tight line, be mindful of your casting distance. Stay within two rod lengths and find a rhythm. If you feel like you have to fish further away, then you’re in the wrong water. Relocate, get close, and perfect your short game. Even for advanced anglers who can stick the landing at thirty-five feet, if the action is slow, fishing short is almost always the best solution. Get back to the basics and refine them . . .

Never Blame the Fish

Never Blame the Fish

When everything you expect to work produces nothing, don’t blame the fish. Think more. Try harder.

When your good drifts still leave the net empty, then don’t settle for good. Make things perfect. Never blame the fish . . .

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

Recent Posts

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