Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 31st, 1999

It's about Time

Sort of funny, how we look at things as we continue developing as fly-fishers. How at different times we feel we know quite a bit, then at other times we are aware of how little we know compared to how much we really do understand.

For instance, it didn't take you too long to realize how to put a trout down. Many ways of course. Your shadow, stomping with your feet, getting too close, plopping the fly on his nose and the easy one, casting your fly line where the fish could see it; both in the air, or lining him by dropping it on the water where he could see it. These are all little things, but put together make up an important element of fly fishing. Stealth does matter!

Here is something most have not given much thought to. Where you really cast? Ray Bergman wrote in Trout about changing your position if a trout does not take the fly. Move up or down a few steps, so to change the angle some. This could change how the fly drifts, how fast it drifts, how the leader lays, the angle of the fly on the water and the length of drift. Lots of things could change with just a seemingly slight change in position.

For those who fish downstream the angle of cast (visualize the face of a clock laid out on the water in front of you, your nose being twelve o'clock,) may be all the way from four o'clock to almost twelve. These angles change to achieve different rates of drift and depths. But, take a look at the average dry fly and sometimes nymph fisher. The most often used cast will be delivered at about eleven o'clock. We will wade to a point where, presuming we are right handed, a well directed cast will fall with the line out of the trouts vision but the leader and fly will drift over him in the most natural way, even tossing in a few mends if necessary.

If the stream is wide we may make a longer cast and deliver it at near ten o'clock, but it is hard to hook on those and we will often reposition ourselves to the eleven o'clock stance again. If casting from shore it still holds true.

When casting from a boat, even when fishing the flats, the guide will gently ease the rear of the boat around so you can get a cast at "About eleven o'clock, forty feet, mon."

What becomes rather evident here is this. Why? No, not 'that' why, we have covered that. The 'why' I mean is this. Why only be able to cast with one hand? If you could cast at least somewhat effectively with the other hand you would open up many more conditions where you could make a respectable cast. Take this situation. A stream about fifty feet wide, shallow, you are wading the center upstream working a dry, casting to both banks, casting right-handed. Unless you are using a hard slip-line reach cast to the left when you are casting to the right bank you will most likely line any fish there or get a very short drift. A cast made with the left hand would put your rod in the correct position to control the slack line and follow the drifting fly.

I hope I have made enough of a case for you to at least try to learn to cast with the off hand. You may not get as good as with your 'dominate hand,' but it could help you out in the future. It's also a great thing to know if you are fishing in a wind from the 'wrong' direction and don't want to wear your fly in your ear.

Someday you will try it, why wait? ~ LadyFisher

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