Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #38 — The Fly Line and Leader Need a Target

by | Apr 15, 2018 | 0 comments

Look at the water. Your target is two feet on this side of a current seam that’s drawn downstream from the tip of a gravel bar. Three trout are steadily rising within casting distance, lined up and distributed in the riffly, bubbly seam. Golden noses poke through the surface and slurp Blue Winged Olive duns without reservation, with early-season, confident rises and none of the skittish hesitation that you’ll see in a month or two. It’s as if a long winter erased the trout’s memory of all present dangers — of anglers and shadowy herons.

Yes, these trout should be (almost) easy. Your leader is well designed, tapered to a long soft piece of 5X nylon. Your position is downstream. Behind the trout’s vision and just off to the side, you stand in ankle deep water on the soft, inside part of the seam. You mentally process the targets and plan to pick off the most rearward riser because he’s closest to your position. And with luck, you’ll hook him on the first few casts. You’ll set the hook and use his upward momentum to pull him sideways and downstream, away from the top two risers. The other trout will be undisturbed — hopefully.

With just a moment more to pause and check the Olive Klinkhammer and the knot of 5X,  you dust the top of the fly with desiccant, working the powder into the parachute post and wrapped hackle. But you leave the dubbed abdomen wet so it can sink into the surface. The Klinkhammer gives the look of an emerging insect, adding another trigger to the set of variables that will or will not convince the trout in front of you.

Everything is just right. With the sun behind both you and the fish, your angle is perfect, and you can easily see the dark grey submarines rise and fall, almost in rhythm, as they suck in another hapless mayfly every twenty seconds.

You release the fly with your line hand and set the combination of dry fly, leader and line in motion with a swift and small loop toward the backcast. On the forward stroke you gauge the distance, at once visualizing the target of the trout itself and a targeted space on the water’s surface a few feet ahead of it. You backcast again and zero in on your target with concentrated, focused eyes. And on the final forward cast, your wrist flicks forward and stops hard. The rod flexes, poised to send your BWO Klinkhammer to the water’s surface and directly in the sight-line of your first trout.

But wait . . .

Hold on. There’s one more thing to consider. Where will the line and leader fall? How will you position the tippet section, the leader and fly line on the water and in the air? It’s just as important as where the fly lands.

Tethered to the line, the fly must follow the leader’s influence. (That’s why it’s a leader.) And it’s our job to set up the cast so the line has the correct influence on the fly.

Often, the objective is a drag free drift. So whether casting dries or nymphs, we do well to set up some slack in the same current seam. If the leader must lay on the water, then consider the curves. How will the currents push those curves around? When casting dries or indicators, it sometimes helps to switch to a backhand approach, or vice versa. Watch the way the curve lands on the water. Is the current pulling immediately on that curve, or is it pushing the curve out of the leader and essentially providing more slack for the fly?

Likewise, a good tight line nymphing presentation finishes with a portion of the leader in the air. But it’s important to consider where that leader is. No matter how light or thin is the leader and line, it always has enough mass to pull and drag the flies unnaturally. So the leader should be inline with the flies, coming down one current seam.

READ: Troutbitten| One Great Nymphing Trick

Even if the presentation is one intended to utilize drag (e.g., stripping streamers), setting up the line with the cast is just as important. We position the leader so the swing or strip of the line leads the flies. They follow the direction of the leader, and they’re guided toward the chosen target.

Success comes from positioning the line to work with the flies. And that line positioning is part of good casting. The situation may call for a simple change in casting angle, or it may require a small arial mend.

Again . . .

So look at the water again. Your target is two feet on this side of a current seam that’s drawn downstream from the tip of a gravel bar. Three trout are steadily rising within casting distance, lined up and distributed in the riffly, bubbly seam.

And before you make the cast to those eager risers, consider where the leader will land. Think about what the various currents will do to the leader. And think about what influence the line hanging from your rod tip may have — because all of it matters.

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.

0 Comments

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