Some things in fly fishing are obvious right away. The concepts of casting and drifting a fly are intuitive for most anglers after just a bit of instruction and a few trips of experience. Advanced techniques are later pored over in conversations, books, articles and videos. We want to learn. But helpful friends and fly fishing authors probably make too many assumptions (myself included). And a lot of what we take for granted or think is obvious has become second nature only after fishing for a long, long time.
So in this new Quick Tips series on Troutbitten, I’ll focus on the small things that make a big difference — the type of things that some new anglers figure out for themselves but that many veteran anglers may very well have missed.
Standing in the water, ready for the next cast, the line behind our rod-hand is either tight to the reel or there is some slack. Maybe there’s five feet of line hanging in a loop between the spool and the trigger finger on the rod. Or perhaps there’s just twelve inches of slack line, like this . . .
Now let’s say we want that slack line gone — we want it out through the guides and beyond the rod tip. Sure, we can shoot it on the next cast, but let’s eliminate the extra step.
If we’d rather have that twelve inches of line out past the rod tip, let’s do this:
Dip the rod tip in the water. Do it swiftly. Drag the tip through the current and let go of the line with the trigger finger. The extra line is sucked through the guides and into the water. The slack is taken by the force of the current and by a tension created with the swishing rod tip and the line in the water.
I do this all the time.
Fishing with my young sons is wonderful, because it gives me a fresh perspective. When Aiden asked me the other day why I draw lines in the water with my rod, my answer was simple at first, but it became more complicated. Soon enough, I realized I’d lost his attention but was still answering the question out loud for myself, because I’d never much considered it before.
Standing bank-side or belt-deep in the flow, I guess I draw my rod tip through the water for other reasons too.
Here’s the rest of my answer to Aiden . . .
When the line tangles around the end of the rod, when there are a few loops of line over the first few feet of the rod, a quick flip-and-dip usually solves the problem.
This trouble happens often with long leader mono rigs, and it happens with fly line too. Many times we elevate the rod tip while tying on a new fly or changing rigs. The slack line tends to loop around the tip, and we notice it before we cast. Flip, dip, swoosh, and the loops are out.
Now that I’m aware of the rod tip dip, I can’t help noticing that I do it dozens of times on every trip. It’s a good habit that I never gave much thought. I now notice other fishermen doing the same, but I also see many anglers struggling with other ways to undo the loops around their rod tip. And I see them false casting more times than needed to throw some extra slack.
The water is there, just waiting to be a line-grabber and help you out with a little drag (for a change). Let it help.
Fish hard, friends.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N