Watchin' For You!

J. Castwell
August 17th, 1998

Swing-time

It occurred to me (us, really) while driving through Yellowstone Park, parts of Idaho and Montana, watching many fly anglers casting for trout, most of them fish downstream. At least quartering across and down, some even with dry flies. I suppose never seen this method taught in fly casting classes. Perhaps one knows instinctively that to present a fly in that way needs no particular expertise nor practice. It is merely an extension of bait fishing which is where most of us started in the first place.

It is nice to know that the downstream swing method also does not require a 'modern-high-speed-fast-action-expensive fly rod.' Most any fly rod will do. Not that some of the slow and medium rods are not expensive. Quite to the contrary. Many have fancy fittings, intricate windings, expensive guides, quality cork, and space-age finishes. These do nothing to interfere with the slow action of the down-stream rods and only act to impress the owners.

In chatting with a few of these anglers, I learned that many had a problem landing the fish they did hook though. They did mention that most were hooked solidly in the corner of the jaw. I replied, "yes, the ones you land, right?" They had no idea where the ones were hooked that got away. They mostly have a buddy with a net located down-stream. He nets the fish as fast as possible, and the angler makes no offer to attempt to take the time to play the fish by getting even with, or down-stream of it; explaining that to do so would "tire the fish oo much and he may get off in the process." That most of the fish hooked by the down-stream method are only lightly hooked in the front of the mouth does not bother them, for they net them quickly and do not attempt to winch the fish upstream to them. Well, some do, but that much strain on a lightly lip hooked trout in fast water proves futile indeed and they soon abandon the practice.

I did see a small group of anglers on the upper Gallatin, in Montana, all casting at an angle upstream. As I was traveling on the highway I did not take the time to inquire of the rather unique practice. Possibly they had taken one of the modern 'fly-casting' schools and learned to add the upstream cast to their arsenal of fishing methods. They seemed to be enjoying it. Odd that they should all be casting upstream when most know that you catch many more fish on the down-stream swing.

Is it like the 'chicken or, the egg' thing? Do most fly anglers cast downstream because the rods they have don't have the power to cast upstream? Is it more work to fish upstream? Do they prefer to cast downstream and so buy slow fly rods? Are most used to the slow action of the old fiberglass and bamboo rods of the past? Are the manufacturers marketing the fast rods wrong?

Like usual, I have more questions than answers.

~JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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