(VIDEO) Four Moments to Shoot Line

by | Aug 10, 2022 | 4 comments

Part of what distinguishes fly fishing from other styles of fishing is retrieving line by hand. We don’t crank a reel to pick up line the way we do with a a gear rod. Instead, we use our line hand to strip in slack or give the fly motion. But then we need to get the line back out there.

One of the most overlooked skills in fly fishing is shooting line. When should we shoot the line back through the rod guides? No one ever seems to talk about these options. But there are four of them.

We can shoot line on the pickup, on the backcast, on the forward cast and on the forward cast following the power stroke.

Here’s the latest Troubitten video to break it all down. Below the video are a few paragraphs with more details.

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On the Pickup
  • Great for shooting small amounts of line (about 1-6 feet).
  • Shooting on the pickup preserves power in the backcast and forward cast.
  • If you have a good line hand technique, shooting line on the pickup is easy and efficient.
  • This should be the most common way to shoot line.
  • On a Mono Rig, the line can often be heard slapping the rod blank — that’s a good thing.

VIDEO: Troutbitten | You Need a Line Hand

On the Backcast
  • Shoot it after the power stroke.
  • Good for long lengths of line.
  • Shooting on the backcast preserves power for the forward cast.
  • Utilizing different moments to shoot line minimizes false casting and catches more trout.
  • Good speed and crisp stops makes this work

READ: Troutbitten | Put More Juice in the Cast

On the Forward Cast Before the Power Stroke
  • This is probably the most common, but it’s the worst time to shoot line.
  • Power is lost here, along with accuracy.
  • Avoid shooting long lengths of line at this point.
  • Acceptable for 1-4 feet of line.
On the Forward Cast After the Power Stroke
  • Usually the best time to shoot long length of line.
  • Release line after the rod stops.
  • Preserves power, with good, tight casting loops.
  • With enough speed, the extra line is simply added to the casting loop.
  • Excellent way to stack extra slack into a tuck cast.

READ: Troutbitten | False Casting Is a Waste of Time

Photo by Josh Darling

Four for More

Shooting line at all four moments accomplishes four different things. The skilled, versatile angler uses all of these moments, throughout the cast, to shoot line efficiently.

If you’ve never tried shooting line on the pickup, or if you’ve never considered the difference between shooting before and after the power stroke, give it a try. Because learning the subtle changes necessary in the timing of the cast and the release of line is well worth the effort.

Fish hard, friends.

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Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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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.

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  1. What a great teacher. Really helpful. Had to watch it twice. But got it now. I eventually get this after I’m on the water for an hour or so from feedback of trail and error. I don’t get out as much as I’d like so I forget With these simple insights in mind feel like I can get to ‘the flow’ immediately next time I get out. You have a good way of explaining the finer points. Well done.

  2. Nice. Thanks Dom.

  3. Is that your Hardy Ultralite 10′ wt4 rod? How did you get a fighting butt on it? Thanks for the great way to shoot line on the Mono rig—-I’m not managing my line nearly as efficiently as i see you do—time for more work.

    • Hi Bob. That’s not a fighting but. Just a little rubber end cap. The manufacturer stopped making them.


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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.

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