Beautiful fine day, no wind, chiily frost that will soon melt on the Tongariro today. The storm has gone and should only have encouraged more spawning runs.
Pinched from North Shore Fly Fishing Club newsletter…
ARE YOU PRACTICING THE TECHNIQUES THAT ACTUALLY CATCH FISH?
Yes, fly anglers obsess about casting distance. We all want to shoot backing but most of us know that has very little to do with catching fish. I should say, with catching trout. And I’ll go ahead and get the caveats out of the way now. Everything I’m going to talk about in this article relates to trout fishing. There are types of fishing where distance matters quite a lot. You will also absolutely catch more trout if you can cast further.
Most importantly, we all want to grow and learn as anglers. Why should distance casting not be part of that growth? I just think it’s important to keep it in perspective. When it comes to trout fishing, there’s a long list of things that are more important than throwing a long cast. Once you’ve mastered them, cast for the moon. Why not? As long as those fundamentals stay in place, you’ll catch fish.
8 Tips More Important in Trout Fishing than a Long Cast.
Probably the single most important factor in catching a trout on the fly. If you want to catch fish work on mending, high sticking, reach casting and paying out line. There are lots of ways to catch fish but whether you’re fishing dry flies or nymphs, a good drag-free drift is the most consistent producer. The best cast in the world is pointless without a good drift.
Whatever distance you’re casting, your fly needs to land on target. If the fly isn’t in the fish’s strike zone, you’re wasting your time. There are several things that go into an accurate cast. A good straight line rod path and a good sense of distance, for sure. Where most anglers fall short is in consistently turning over their leader. If your leader does not land straight every cast, you can’t expect to hit your mark.
You can’t catch a fish without a hook set. There are 2 keys here, timing and detection. You always want to time your hook set so that you are applying pressure after the fish turns its head. That way you will pull the fly into the corner of his mouth, not straight out of it. Of course you first have to be aware of the take, and that’s where most fish are missed. As John Gierach said, you must learn to “set on the imperceivable take.” Translated, set and set often.
Learning to make a tight, energized loop will pay off in several ways. It will allow you to put your fly wherever you like, whenever you like. That means hard to reach spots like under overhanging brush or right against an undercut bank. A clean loop will keep flies from tangling or sticking in your ear. It will help you cast in the wind and throw all kinds of bugs. Ironically, once you’ve mastered loop control, distance will no longer be a problem.
Short, accurate casts are effective, but only if you can get into position to make them without spooking fish. Being a quiet and observant wader will catch you more fish than fancy casting.
You have to find fish to catch fish. Learning to spot the current seams and breaks, drop offs and structure which attracts trout is one of the first things aspiring anglers should concern themselves with.
While we’re reading that water, let’s take a minute to think about the currents we’ll be casting across. Finding the fish is one thing, making a successful presentation is another. Far too many anglers make things hard on themselves by rushing their presentations. Take the time to position yourself where you can get the best drift. A step or two is often all you need to set yourself up for success.
Knowing the insects you’re imitating and understanding their lifecycles gives you a real leg up. You don’t need to know the Latin names, you just need to be able to identify what the fish are eating and understand how to imitate it. That imitation should include your fly choice and your presentation, meaning how you fish the fly.
I would never want to say anything that gave the impression that casting skill is not important. It is and casting distance is important too, but it’s not everything. As you develop as an angler you will naturally want to be a better cast and you’ll want to cast further. But in the meantime, work on these eight essential skills. When it comes to catching fish, they are all more important than a long cast.