J. Castwell
November 17th, 1997


I couldn't see any sign that a brown was feeding, but he had been last weekend. A week before on Michigan's famous blue-ribbon AuSable, my cast had smacked the water too hard and he shot out like a bullet. It was not really a hard cast to make. The #16 Adams had curled out and dropped smartly from the tight loop. Normally, a good cast, but not for this place.

The stream is a classic. Tea colored water, about thirty yards of gentle flow, cedar 'sweepers' leaning low over the edges. Sometimes sweepers right in the water, more often just a test of an anglers patience and skill. It had tested me and I had lost.

1. Stand directly downstream from your target and cast upstream. When fishing smooth water, false cast off to one side and use a reach cast (shown) to keep the line from spooking the fish. If the surface of the water is broken, you can cast straight upstream without disturbing the trout. Cast far enough above lie to allow the fly to sink to the fish's level.

2. Take up line as the fly drifts toward you to remove excess slack and allow you to set the hook quickly. Do not draw the line or leader tight, however, or the fly will not drift naturally. If you see the line twitch or feel a take, or if the fish suddenly moves toward the fly, gently set the hook.

Photos and text from Fly Fishing for Trout in Streams, Subsurface Techniques, by Dick Sternberg, David Tieszen and John van Vliet, © 1996 by Cy DeCosse Inc. Thanks for use permission.

I stealthily waded my way into position this time, carefully working upstream, targeting the left stream edge. Several casts on the way into position worked the kinks out of my leader and nerves as well. This time I would not try that 'overhead - tight - loop - under - the - overhanging - sweeper' cast.

To be sure, it is a very accurate cast and is one of the most often used. This required more finesse. The little fly had to get in under the overhanging sweeper. There was about four feet of room. Then it had to land softly. The water was only about a foot deep. I measured the distance with false casts directly upstream, so as not to alert the trout. When I was satisfied with the line length, I eased the cast about 45 degrees to my left, and switched to a SIDEARM CAST.

Now, this didn't take a mental giant to figure out; but, what I did next may be new to you. It takes practice. Not a lot, but some, and you can do it at home on the lawn. As you make a normal sidearm cast, right after the stop on the forward stroke, snap the rod tip down. This sends a wave in the line clear down to the fly, which 'jumps up;' and, gently settles to the surface.

I can't remember when I learned this cast. It had to be many years ago, for the above event happened in the 60's. There have been several times when the maneuver has made the difference between a good cast and the 'right cast'. Give it a try the next time you are practicing, you will master it faster than you might think.~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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