This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

April 26th, 2004

Better Casting

Sometimes I think I sound like a broken record. But casting is such an important part of fly fishing I just can't help myself.

Your casting may be just fine for your local fishing. It may not be beautiful or classy, but it gets the job done. Most of us didn't have private instructors, or live where organized classes were given - or even had a good fly fishing buddy to mentor us. We are mostly self-taught, by trial and error (mostly error) and getting a fly on the water instead of in the trees or shrubs behind us was a major victory.

I wish there were more good videos available for learning how to cast, but sadly, there is really just one which JC, my husband, and I recommend, Joan Wulff's Dynamics of Fly Casting.

Being able to cast well (pun intended) opens up a whole world of possibilities. Different fisheries, new fish, lakes, oceans, spring creeks, exotic locations for bonefish, tarpon, peacock bass, sailfish - anything anywhere.

What brought this to mind was an email this week from Octavio Araujo, who is a partner with Peter Gorinski in Amazon Fly Fishing. He sent some information on their new season, including an article on fishing for Peacock Bass.

If you think I'm tough, read this:

Practice your casting

While peacock bass fly fishing may not demand perfect presentations, you will do better if you have the following qualities:

    Cast comfortably a 9 or 10 wt rod and big fly at distances above 55 feet.

    Cast quickly at that distance range and more.

    Cast with a minimum of false casting and effort.

    Being able to quickly change casting direction.

    Being able to make good presentations with your backcast.

    Some level of precise casting, specially if the water is a bit high.

    You will catch more big fish if you can cast far. Casting a big 10 inch streamer is quite different than casting a slim 3 inch fly. So it's better if you can practice your casting under that condition before the trip. It's also wise to learn how to cast and change directions quickly so you can place your fly in the action. That's where casting with the backcast helps a lot.

    "Buck fever" is also a major difficulty for less experienced anglers. You must focus on remaing cool and cast calmly to that big peacock busting on baitfish in front of the boat. I often say it's way better if it takes you a few more seconds to place the fly in the right spot than rushing too much and totally screwing up the cast by placing the fly a few feet from the boat in a pile of fly line. Remain calm and catch that fish. Or at least as calm as it gets in that situation.

There you have it from someone else! And it's true. The better you cast the more fish you will catch. Why? Because you aren't thinking/worrying about your casting. It becomes 'automatic'.
There is one part of Octavio's message which you may not have tried or considered. Using your backcast as the 'presentation' cast. What if you are fishing on a lake and the wind prevents you from fishing? Could you position yourself to use your backcast instead of a forward cast? Or if you are fishing a stream and there is just a little opening between trees for a backcast? Could you face the trees, make your cast through the opening and use the backcast as your 'cast'?

We have had situations fishing the saltwater where the wind was from our right and blows the cast and fly into the angler. The solution? Turn around and use the backcast as the cast. The wind is then blowing the line and fly away from the angler. Good idea even if you use barbless flies.

Spring is here, seasons are open or opening and the one thing you can do to really improve your fishing is: Improve your casting!

For anyone attending the Central Washington Fish-In, or the Idaho Fish-In this fall - JC and I are always very willing to help folks with their casting. We don't charge for casting lessons - or tune ups - at these events - and we are really pleased to be able to help.

Give yourself a real gift. Improve your casting. ~ The LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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