As I write this, I am reminded of our changing world and our frailty. That old saying “if you have your health, you have just about everything” rings so true now. I sincerely hope all of you are well, and if not, that you are weathering whatever storm has come your way. If you are suffering loss, my heart goes out to you.
Casting lessons have ceased. I can’t in good conscience continue them, even following “social distancing” guidelines. However, you as an individual can get out and practice as well as fish occasionally. Tune up your cast for when the fishing gets better and adult flies are about! This is a great opportunity to improve your casting. Use the Fly Casting Skills Challenge I wrote about in last newsletter as a practice plan. Go to www.clearcreekflycasting.com and the newsletter tab to find the Winter 2020 edition. If you run into problems with either, drop me a line. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I can often offer advice based on verbal descriptions. Video is also welcome.
Due to the pandemic, I’m not planning any casting events at this time. Keep an eye out for announcements in the future.
The Back Cast: Overlooked, Misunderstood and Often Poorly Done
The back cast sets up the forward cast. Although true, that’s a rather vague statement.
Fix one thing at a time!
It’s not unusual to identify more than one mistake that a caster is making. Make a mental list and pick the one you think will help the most. Work on that and don’t pile on. For example, your student has 6 ft. back loops and trouble with accuracy and distance. There are often tailing loops on the forward cast. She is aware and quite frustrated by them but unaware of the underlying back cast problem. You choose to work on the back cast first and explain why. Within this choice to fix the back cast first, choose one thing to change in a positive way meaning tell the caster what to do more than what not to do. You coach her to make her back cast stop more vertical. She gets some improvement, but it’s not consistent. Now you tell her to make the stop both vertical and abrupt. Given the improvement in her back cast, there are an increasing number of tailing loops forward (not unusual). Don’t pile on by trying to correct the tails in detail. Rather, explain that now that the back cast is better, she can back off the power on the forward cast. Keep working on a consistently good back cast, making sure the caster can see the difference in the back cast loop. Once more consistent, one can approach the tails on the forward cast. At the end of the lesson, summarize what was covered and what you want the student to practice.
Chuck Prather, guide and fishing guru at the Rocky Mountain Angling Club, recently asked that I write an article for them about casting tight line fishing rigs. Here is my article! Hope you find it helpful. Contact me if any questions.
Casting Tight Line Rigs
Tight line rigs are frequently used for nymph fishing. The definition for the purpose of this article is a subsurface rig without an indicator other than a colored monofilament “sighter.” Often these set-ups include a very long leader (10-20 ft.) with long (3 ft+) lengths of tippet material of 4X or thinner. These go by various names, such as Euronymph, Czech nymph, and others. The problem is that the monofilament (nylon or fluorocarbon) is skinny and long. It’s hard to control the weighty flies typically used, especially if there are 2-3 of them. If the leader piles up instead of straightening tangles result. Sound familiar? Information about how to cast these rigs is sparse. I am fortunate to have had discussions with members of both the US and South African fly fishing teams. Two answers are a continuous tension (Belgian) cast or roll cast, with or without a “tuck.” In most cases, stopping the rod high to keep the leader off the water is best. Practice these casts with a tight line rig using split shot in place of the weighted flies before you take them fishing.
Roll cast is probably the most familiar and easiest. Launching a euronymph rig into a standard back cast is often a disaster. Roll cast is an isolated forward cast preceded by formation of a waterborne anchor and “D loop.” The roll cast forward motion can often be done with the D loop and anchor washed downstream, although some of my instructor colleagues might not agree with calling that a roll cast. This cast will also change direction, meaning downstream to up or across stream. When done properly, the leader rarely piles up.
A straight line will not tangle. The corollary is that a line under continuous tension will not tangle. Therefore, the standard overhead cast with a back cast and pause (tension loss) is not the best option. Learn the Belgian Cast (a.k.a. Oval Cast)! To learn this cast, start by getting about 20 ft. of line and leader outside the rod tip. Make a steady lift freeing the line from the water followed by a smooth circular back cast without a stop and a forward stroke towards the target. Stop the rod aiming the loop at the target. A wide loop (5 ft.) with a nymph rig is often preferable. This can also be used for change of direction by stopping the rod at different points on the circle, as well as bringing the line back over the dominant shoulder and delivering over the opposite shoulder. The “Tuck,” aka tuck cast, is nothing more than adding more power to the forward stroke than would be necessary to get the leader to straighten. Due to this extra power the leader straightens and turns down, or “tucks.” This maneuver can be added to any forward stroke, and the presence of a weighted fly at the end of the rig makes the tuck easier.