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