A quarterly newsletter from Clear Creek Fly Casting LLC.

Fall 2016

Welcome to my quarterly newsletter, “Tight Loops”! This newsletter is for you, the reader and fly fisher. We all get so much information these days that is difficult to sift through. This newsletter is designed to give you a format you can scan quickly to know what’s there and read at your leisure. Quarterly distribution seems a good match with my schedule and the amount of information we all get in our mail. Here’s how it works:

  • Each quarter or season you will receive this electronic message with links to my web page,, where the newsletter will be archived for you to read anytime.
  • This is free. Please forward this to others that you think will be interested. You can unsubscribe at any time. I do not share contact information with anyone or any agency.
  • The title of each section will be followed by a 1-2 sentence description of the content.
  • “Upcoming Events” will list future clinics and presentations. This will be listed first so you are immediately aware of them. I want these to fill to capacity! Brief messages may go out between newsletters if vacancies in clinics or presentations exist.
  • “Casting Bullets” will be a concise, clear discussion of a particular topic of my choosing. My hope is that it will be informative and also stimulate thought and questions on your part.
  • “Ask the Instructor” will address questions from readers and students on all aspects of fly casting and fly fishing. You can either e-mail the question(s) using the link or I will draw on questions I am asked during lessons. The request will remain anonymous. Any questions that I can’t answer will be directed to experts that I know in the International Federation of Fly Fishers.
  • “Suggestion Box” encourages feedback regarding format, suggestions for future topics, and suggestions for casting clinics and presentations. I do make changes based on constructive criticism! Please reply using the link.


IFFF EASTERN ROCKY MOUNTAIN COUNCIL EXPO: This will be in Glenwood Springs, Saturday October 8th. I will be leading a class from 8-12 called “Getting Ready to Become a Certified Casting Instructor” which will cover what you need to know to get started. If you have serious intent or are just curious about what’s involved, this is the class for you! In the afternoon I will lead the workshop: “Discover the Secret to Good Fly Casting: Improving Accuracy, Distance and Practice.” Contact

FLY FISHING RENDEZVOUS: I will be teaching again at this event at the Jeffco Fairgrounds, 11/5-6. There will be a 40-60 minute casting presentation at 10 AM and 2 PM each day. Come and ask questions, consult about casting problems, or just cast! Lots of great vendors, fly tyers and speakers at this event! Here’s the link:

SALT WATER CASTING CURRICULUM: Whether you have a salt water trip booked this winter or just want to learn more, this curriculum encompassing three 90 minute lessons is a great start. It’s not too early to start practicing; you can never practice too much! Lessons arranged by contacting instructor at

GIFT CERTIFICATES: This is a unique gift for any fly fisher, new or seasoned. Contact the instructor at


The two things you can do to improve your cast: a description of 2 commonly observed and easily remedied mistakes I see at lessons and on the water. There are 2 mistakes I see people making time and again. The first of these is uncontrolled slack. Uncontrolled slack is an accumulation of line beyond the reel or line tip that prevents immediate line tension when desired. It’s significant when it ruins the cast or makes hookup difficult. Instead of starting the cast with rod tip low to the water (within 6-12”) and line straight, the caster starts with rod tip higher and/or fails to remove slack caused by current or wind. This is especially seen when making an upstream presentation where the current puts a big bow in the line under and downstream of the rod tip. Without good line tension in the cast, the casting arc size must be increased to remove the slack and a wide, sloppy, uncontrolled back loop results. This often necessitates 2-3 false casts to correct, which fatigues the caster and spooks fish! These solutions take some thought and discipline but are well worth the effort:

  • Strip the slack line in and shoot it back out on your delivery cast. Start with rod tip low and line straight.
  • Pull the slack into a “roll cast pick up.” Forming the D loop for the roll cast will take care of the slack and then make a roll cast into the air, a subsequent back cast before the line lands, and then the delivery cast. You can even shoot line on the delivery!
  • Another way is to let all the line wash downstream until taught and then make a water loaded cast back to your target. This is especially good with nymph rigs.

The second thing you can do to improve your cast takes a bit more practice: improve your back cast! The back cast sets up the forward cast. Sometimes a poor back cast is caused by uncontrolled slack, but more often by a wide casting arc, often underpowered, resulting in a wide back loop even when all the line was initially under tension. Then several false casts are required to get a good delivery. One student put it succinctly: “I have to get it going.” This caster was trying to form a loop he had confidence in and it took 2-4 false casts to achieve this! Here’s how to practice to improve the back cast:

  • Cast sidearm (horizontal) so you can see the back and front loops.
  • Pay careful attention to the casting arc size and adjust it so the loops are 2-4 feet top to bottom leg.
  • Make sure power applied to front and back casts is equal and smooth.
  • Make sure you are making abrupt stops at the back and front of the casting arc.
  • Strive for a “pick up and lay down cast” with good loops. This means one back cast and one forward cast to the target---BOOM!---fishing! When you have a good initial back cast this is possible.
  • When you can do this in the horizontal plane, work your way up to vertical. I promise you’ll be happy with the result!


Why won’t my line/leader layout straight?

Most try to address this by adjusting their forward cast. This is frustrating because it rarely works. The problem is usually in the back cast!

  • An underpowered back cast does not straighten the line adequately. Therefore there is slack and the last bit of line never comes under tension on the forward cast motion. Most try to solve this problem by putting more power into the forward cast. This usually causes a wide front loop making everything worse.
  • Power in the back cast is OK but the loop is wide. The wide loop in the back has the same cumulative effect as above.
  • Poor timing, or not waiting long enough for the line to nearly completely straighten on the back cast, will also cause the line/leader to “puddle.” This can happen even when the back cast loop is good and is seen especially when casting for distance. If extra power is applied on the forward cast the dreaded snap or whip crack is heard.
  • The solution is improve your back cast and your timing!
  • A final important note is that slack in your presentation is often helpful for drag free drift. Of course, you have to learn how to make slack when you want it, not by accident!

How should I stand when fly casting/fishing?

My answer goes beyond practical towards pragmatic. Stand how you are comfortable! I find that most students stand in a way that is appropriate and doesn’t hinder the cast. I only suggest a change in stance when I think it would help in some way. Examples are:

  • Open stance: facing 90 degrees from the target; for distance casting or for easier observation of the back loop
  • Half open stance: commonly intuitively adopted by many; the dominant foot is dropped back about 1/2 step
  • Closed stance: caster faces the target: often helps with accuracy

The most important aspect though is that when fishing our stance is often dictated by the terrain. I have cast from a prone position on the bank, kneeling in the river, seated in a drift boat and even hanging by one hand from a tree limb. (The last of these seemed like a good idea at the time until the fish actually ate the fly---not a posture I’d recommend!) So in sum, stand comfortably and be flexible because fishing will demand it!


Presently empty---please fill it up! Contact