Articles in the Category Fly Casting

Fly Casting — Five Tips For Better Mending

Mending is a bit of a lost art in fly fishing, and I meet fewer and fewer people with much skill for it. Remember to start with slack. Then keep your mends small and crisp. Mend like you mean it, and be willing to make mistakes. Have fun out there . . .

Fly Casting — Shoot Line on the Pickup

The pickup is one of the most overlooked aspects of the casts. And by learning to shoot line on the pickup, the options for delivering our flies with precision and with subtle variation are wide open . . .

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Accuracy. It’s an elementary casting principle, but it’s the hardest thing to deliver. Wild trout are unforgiving. So the errant cast that lands ten inches to the right of a shade line passes without interest. As river anglers, our task is a complicated one, because we must be accurate not only with the fly to the target, but also with the tippet. Wherever the leader lands, the fly follows. Accuracy holds a complexity that is not for the faint of heart. But here’s one tip that guarantees immediate improvement right away.

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 . . .

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Accuracy. It’s an elementary casting principle, but it’s the hardest thing to deliver. Wild trout are unforgiving. So the errant cast that lands ten inches to the right of a shade line passes without interest. As river anglers, our task is a complicated one, because we must be accurate not only with the fly to the target, but also with the tippet. Wherever the leader lands, the fly follows. Accuracy holds a complexity that is not for the faint of heart. But here’s one tip that guarantees immediate improvement right away.

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 . . .

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 . . .

Fly Casting — Shoot Line on the Back Cast

Fly Casting — Shoot Line on the Back Cast

For better casting, for more options after the power stroke, for more available adjustments regarding where the line will end up, shoot most or all of the necessary line on the backcast. And if you’re really good, do it with no extra false casting . . .

Here’s how and why . . .

Bob’s Fly Casting Wisdom

Bob’s Fly Casting Wisdom

In my early twenties I drove a delivery van for a printing company while finishing the last few semesters of my English degree. Life was pretty easy back then, and I spent much of my leisure time playing guitar and fishing small backcountry streams for wild trout. It was a tight-quarters casting game. And making the transition from the five-foot spinning rod of my youth to a much longer fly rod gave me some trouble. Until, that is, I received one of the simplest and most transformative pieces of fly fishing advice . . .

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Fly Casting — Don’t Reach

Fly Casting — Don’t Reach

Whenever we learn a new skill, our tendency is to exaggerate the motions. Beginning guitar players, for example, arch their last finger joints too much, desperately straining to keep their fretting fingers away from the neighboring strings. Eventually, experience teaches a more relaxed approach, and music begins to flow from the instrument.

Curiously, there’s a connection between fly rodders and guitarists. Somehow, there’s a similar draw. I know a lot of artists who can both sling a fly line and strum a six string. And fly anglers have the same trouble as guitarists — we try too hard at first. In fact, even experienced fly casters start reaching with the casting arm when presented with a new technique.

So don’t do it. Don’t reach on the forward cast. When the backcast ends crisply, the forward cast begins. And when the forward cast ends, the arm should be in a natural position — not stretched out and reaching for the target. Here’s why . . .

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Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Casting styles change with the water. The same stroke that lays a dry line with perfect s-curves in a soft flat is useless in pocket water. As the river picks up speed, so must our casting. Effective drifts are shorter, so we cast more. Mixed surface currents greedily pull our built-in slack over to the next seam. So our casting matches the currents. It’s more aggressive. Faster.

But fishing rough or mixed currents doesn’t mean we give up on a good dead drift. And the best stroke for the job is one that I call the Crash Cast . . .

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Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop

Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop

A backcast loop unfolds, parallel to the rolling current. The tapered fly line straightens and joins the rod tip on its forward path. It punches through the wet air with a second loop — a horseshoe arc with all the power and energy needed to drive a bushy Royal Wulff to the target.

The rod tip stops above that target — in vertical alignment with the mark, but well above the water’s surface. Tip stops high. Leader shoots out and releases its power. Fly reaches the end of the line. Then the rod tip drops. The line recoils in s-curves as the dropping rod pushes more depth into those bends and arcs.

Fly lands and drifts. Fish eats. Perfection.

That’s the stop and drop. And this simple move is the key to good dead drifts with a dry fly. Let’s look at it closer . . .

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Fly Fishing Strategies — The Tuck Cast

Fly Fishing Strategies — The Tuck Cast

The tuck cast is a fly fishing essential. It’s a fundamental component of good nymph fishing, and it’s useful on streamers and wets. Even dry flies get some necessary slack by completing the same motion of a tuck cast on a dry leader. It’s a vital fly fishing tool, not a specialized cast for rare moments. The tuck cast is an elemental part of the fly angler’s casting approach.

The tuck cast shines brightest given a tight line nymphing method. So let’s start there before branching out.

A good tuck cast forces the nymph into the water before the attached leader follows. Understand that first. This simple concept is the tuck cast. And from this idea, endless variations abound . . .

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Is a soft sighter best? Not always

Is a soft sighter best? Not always

My first experience with modern sighter material was an opaque line from a Czech company. I paid more in shipping than I paid for the line, and I waited a couple weeks, wondering if the package would ever arrive.

It did. And I immediately noticed how different it was. The material was extremely limp when compared to the same diameter of the Gold Stren and Amnesia that I favored. And at the tying desk, where I’d opened the package and inspected the line, I loved how visible the new bi-color was — it was opaque, not translucent. So I was eager to fish with the new line, assuming it would become my new favorite sighter material.

It didn’t. Instead, just a few casts in, I realized what I’d given up by using the new material — turnover.

For better or worse, modern sighter material is all quite similar in design to that first line I bought from the Czechs. It’s opaque (great). And it’s limp (great only sometimes.) . . .

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