Eye of the Guide


Satoshi Yamamoto - Jul 29, 2013

Sysadmin Note
Part 12 can be found here


Now I'd like to talk about a subject beyond seasons, a very fundamental skill - casting. I have explained various methods and techniques with all kinds of fly patterns so far. Here I will focus on dry-fly fishing during match-the-hatch situations. I did cover this briefly yet essentially in PART 3 by using Fall BWO hatches (that would be the toughest condition at DePuy's). The basic techniques: "Reach Cast" and "angle of presentation" still hold the same. Some anglers or probably the majority of them tend to consider these are only for spring creeks and can only be learned and practiced through matching-the-hatch situations at spring creeks. Not necessarily so. One can practice reach casts and try different angles of presentation on rivers, even from a drift-boat. Then one will find the reach cast is useful even on big rivers. Surely we may use different flies and fish different types of waters, but one's physical movements remain the same. Surroundings make you feel that spring creeks fishing and river fishing are totally different from each other. This is the application of knowledge and experience from DePuy's that can be expanded to the mighty Yellowstone or Madison Rivers or similar waters near where you live.

Reach Cast:

Let's review Down-&-Cross Reach Cast. Just as you are completing your forward cast, move your casting-arm up-steam (reach up!). You shoot your line-leader-flies just the same way but by employing the down and across reach cast, you can present your flies to trout ahead of tippet and before dragging occurs. Also you don't have to (or want to) mend your line as mending can disturb the surface (making little fuzzes and giving your flies unnecessary movement). Did I learn all of these and practice only at DePuy's or other spring creeks?? The answer is a BIG NO. Believe or not, I originally developed this skill by float fishing the Madison River in Montana. Now some of you would react "WHAT? The Madison is too fast!! Never looks like a spring creek!! And you are on a boat!!" I hear you but then again I'm talking about physical movements. The down and across reach cast is employed in Madison with great success. Indeed it's essential as it has same effect - showing your flies to the trout ahead of tippet without mending. But why? The Madison is the fastest running river around here as it's referred as "50-Mile Riffle". We hit one spot to next - pockets, seams, slicks, and so forth - in a very fast pace. Mending is still important but the current and velocity will move your line as soon as it hits the water and not to mention the boat is always heading down-stream. That's why you need to present your dry-flies with the reach cast without mending. Mastering the reach cast and presenting flies effectively make huge differences. Another stretch where reach cast is appreciated is on the Yellowstone River above Yankee Jim Canyon. There I apply the reach cast while wade/walk-fishing. Unless I observe insect hatches and rising trout, I will be searching the water at likely spots/structures with repetitive reach casts (walk down-stream with down and across reach cast). When I guide the lower Madison (just outside of Bozeman) and the Yellowstone below Yankee Jim Canyon, I direct people to mend as we can get away by mending most of the time and as some anglers get confused. But when I personally fish, I'd rather fish with the reach cast even in those relatively slower stretches.

Winter at DePuys

Winter at DePuys
Same angler is performing Reach Cast either at DePuy's or Madison. He's either on foot or floating respectively.
Totally different types of water and surroundings, but his skill remains the same.

Let's Organize:

Either on-foot, floating, on rivers, or on spring creeks the reach cast is a very effective and important skill for the successful fly fisher. I'd like to emphasize it's not only for spring creeks. One can practice and apply at any waters. I want to demystify some common thoughts (misunderstandings as well): river-fishing and spring-creek-fishing are totally different, techniques are also different, spring creek is highly technical while rivers are easy, and so forth and list may go on. None of these things are true. I want you readers (or my clients) to see the essence of skills and knowledge that you use at one fishery. Then I encourage you to apply them to other fisheries when you judge it's appropriate. Don't hesitate. Never be intimidated by so-called technicality of spring creeks or by big western rivers.

Winter at DePuysWinter at DePuys

(Left) Nice brown trout from Madison while floating. (Right) Massive whitefish during BWO hatch at Lower Flat of DePuy's. Either at big river or spring creek, from on board or on foot, casting dry-flies with Reach Cast remains the same. And any fish can be rewarding!!

I'd like to say good guides at spring creeks in Livingston can also be good at float trips on the big rivers around here. I bet most of visiting anglers from other states or countries are also interested in float fishing on the nearby Madison or Yellowstone Rivers besides DePuy's and other spring creeks. So I hope this guideline will help you develop your mind-set and plan your trips about where to fish. Either big rivers or spring creeks, we are fishing for trout! Right!? That phrase reminds me of another discussion for next chapter……

Satoshi Yamamoto, http://leftyangler.blogspot.com, brought his passion for fly-fishing & fly-tying from Japan to Montana and became the first ever Japanese guide in Livingston, MT.  He guides and fish's big rivers like Madison and Yellowstone, spring creeks in Paradise Valley, and various waters in Yellowstone Park. Hence, with his Regal Vise at the bench, his fly tying interests vary from tiny midges to 5-inch streamers and anything in between. Once his ideas are combined he goes out for experiments at those near-by waters.  Satoshi submits his innovative patterns to Montana Fly Company (www.montanafly.com). 

His own innovative original patterns can be purchased from his fly-shop, http://leftytyer.blogspot.com.

Sysadmin Note
Part 14 can be found here


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