Daylight or night bite, we’re delivering our flies either with the current or against it — drifting or swinging. And while their are hundreds of variations on each approach, it helps to recognize the root of every tactic that we employ with a fly rod. When I talk shop with my night fishing friends, when I sit down to share a beer and swap a few tales about how last night’s fishing shook out, my first question is usually, “Were you drifting or swinging.”
My own education happened naturally. Over a period of years, fishing day in and day out, I developed a casting technique and style that works for me. But it took time, and not everyone has that luxury. Inevitably, the anglers I meet who struggle to cast a fly, whether working with a dry line, tight line nymphing, whether casting wets or streamers, it comes down to one thing. They aren’t aggressive enough.
The fly rod needs an angler who will take control and be bossy. Good casting requires acceleration between 10:00 and 2:00, with hard, deliberate stops at those points. That’s what I mean by aggressive. The cast should be crisp. It must stop between two positions, and it must stop with purpose. The casting stroke should never be lazy, and it should not be cautious. Otherwise, fly placement and accuracy falls apart.
“Just drift your fly on the inside of . . .”
John interrupted. He shook his head in anger and leaned in toward me.
“Man, if I could see the fly, I’d put it there.”