February 7th, 2005

By James Castwell

There was a question on the BB recently asking just what the heck is it. Not a bad question really, as it means many things to each of us. As our water differs, so does the answer to the question. So I suppose there are as many answers as there are circumstances. But, that has never stopped me from wading in over my waders before, why should it now.

I can only, however, explain what it means to me for the various conditions I fish. The problem is there are several. I will try to briefly list them and what it means on each. Your situation may differ on each due to personal preference and end goals as well. There may never be a right and wrong situation, but hopefully we can all learn from each other and apply things as they seem desirable. I am far from a great fly fisherman, but have annoyed some fish and even brought to hand a few over the years.

Bonefish. Casting from the bow of a flats boat. Speed is essential. A fly must be dropped about two feet ahead of a cruising fish, depending on the water depth, but that is a good average distance. It should land with as little commotion as possible and sink at a rate to get to the bottom ahead of the fish. If cast too far ahead of the fish he may change course and you will have to re-cast, probably missing a shot at him at all. The rod must be pointed at the fish, no slack in the line on delivery and your hand on the line ready to strip line instantly. These are all parts of presentation. The cast should be delivered with as few false casts as possible depending on the distance needed. Preferably one cast. Not an easy thing to do, especially with a wind. Often two false casts are needed to get the distance and the exact spot for the fly.

Salmon. Wading from a beach. Reading the water is very important. Rarely can one just pitch into the ocean, but sometimes it is all that is available. Blind casting can pay off when the water is calm and flat. Usually there is enough tide, which actually causes the water to flow from your right side or left depending if it is coming in or going out. This will cause eddies and cross-currents sometimes which are in effect, cover or structure. Places for bait or bait fish to be found. Identifying these can be the difference between success and failure. Here often the guy with longest cast can more than out fish others. It is not just because his fly is in the water more, it is because he may be the only one who can reach the fish. His fly alone may be seen. The case for learning distance casting can not be overstated here. Distance equals presentation. How it lands means nothing. Where in the currents and structure can be vital. What happens after the cast is very important, the mending of the slack, half-roll casts, constant control of the fly, all are part of presentation as you are offering a fly which likely represents a bait-fish. You must control how you want it to look. Dead, drifting, injured, crippled whatever. Presentation.

Trout. In a stream. Perhaps while wading or from the bank. Most things are about the same. Nothing can take the place of accuracy. This can only be learned by practice. Not only while fishing but off of the water as well. Now, I am not a fan of downstream fly fishing and not at all sure that it should be considered as such, but let's move beyond that for the time being. I do my casting upstream mostly. Many times I will, in the air, measure the distance of my cast off to the side of the fish or the place I want my fly to drop. When I am satisfied that my distance is correct, only then will I land the fly.

This will now depend on many factors. I will use what ever type cast is needed to present the fly with the proper amount of slack, controlled slack that is, to the fish. Several types of cast are needed in one's arsenal and these must be learned to be able to cover a wide variety of conditions. Again, here practice is vital. Curve casts and slack line casts of all types. The mending after the cast is imperative to presentation as a dragging fly is most often to be avoided. Here again knowledge of casting comes in, mending is part of it. How one picks up the fly after it has passed the fish is important so as not to put him down. Various pick-ups are available, learn as many as you can find; wiggle, roll-cast, shake and horizontal for dry fly work. If fishing wets upstream, sliding the fly straight out is not a fault but would be with a dry. Using a true reach-cast where the line slides through the guides as the cast is laid down so it does not shorten the cast is a cast I employ more often than one might think. This allows me to lay my line exactly where I want it to so as not to encounter some aspect of current or spoil a fish. During all of this the fly is hopefully drifting naturally, thus this is all part of presentation. The cast would utilize a true reach, probably a quick stop of the line with the index finger of my casting hand to cause a recoil just before landing.

So, what is presentation? Good question. But, at least now you have a few answers. Not by any means all, but some. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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