A quarterly newsletter from Clear Creek Fly Casting LLC.

Winter 2016

Hello, everyone and welcome to the second edition of Tight Loops! It’s been a great 2016 and I thank all of you for your support and referrals. I grow and learn as an instructor every time I teach. Special thanks go to Grace Carter for website design and implementation. Without her the website and newsletter, both launched this year, would not exist!

Winter is looming. I teach and cast in all kinds of weather so don’t be afraid to schedule a lesson just because of cold and snow! There are always plenty of casting lessons to be done as people prepare for salt water trips and trips to Patagonia, etc. Some of you even like to get a jump start on next season.

Speaking of lessons, please consider getting a gift certificate for instruction as a holiday gift. You may know someone that would appreciate it, or you may want to drop a hint for yourself! See the Holiday Special in Upcoming events.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter now and in the future! It’s a newsletter for you so please give me feedback on what you want to read about any casting/fishing questions you might have. We especially need “Ask the Instructor” questions.


Holiday Special: from December 1 through 31, get 20% off a gift certificate good for a 1 hour lesson for one person (limit three per client.) This is a great gift at a significantly reduced price! Help those you care about get started right or improve their technique. For purchase, contact .

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

January 6, 7, & 8, 2017: The Fly Fishing Show at the Denver Merchandise Mart. I will be at the International Federation of Fly Fishers Learning Center Friday-Sunday for free casting instruction and consultation. There are also opportunities to ask about knots, rigging and some other aspects of fly fishing. Join Us!

January 7, 2017, IFFF Certified Casting Instructor Preparation Class at the Fly Fishing Show: This is an all-day class to get you started correctly on your journey to become a Certified Casting Instructor. We cover how to prepare as well as casting and teaching performance expectations. The cost is $85 and includes show entry fee, handouts and lunch. Bring the rod, reel, line, and leader you wish to cast. The instructors are Jeff Wagner and myself, both Master Certified Instructors involved in teaching and testing. You sign up through the Fly Fishing Show.

February 11, 2017, West Denver TU Fly Tying Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds: I’ve been invited back again to give casting demonstrations and consultations at this event. (I must be doing something right!) Further, I am excited this year to be doing a talk in the theater on “Understanding Single Handed Fly Lines” first thing in the morning. The goal is to help you learn a bit more about fly line construction, what the taper does and how to choose a line to suit your purpose. Hope to see you there!

Watch for my Casting Clinics in the spring and summer to be announced in the spring newsletter.


This will be discussed in 2 parts. There is great value in taking lessons from an experienced instructor who can help you get the most from your gear. There are 6 good reasons to take a lesson(s) and these will be discussed first, and then I’ll give you some tips on choosing an instructor.

First, here are some reasons to take lessons from an experienced and preferably certified instructor:

  • The inconsistent internet: You will get far more out of one hour with an instructor than one hour of “surfing”. A recent well-done study about casting instruction showed that auditory and visual learning for casting instruction is superior. Therefore, videos should be great, right? Although there are plenty of casting videos on the internet, the overall quality is inconsistent at best. Technical quality is often poor. Many times demonstrations do not match explanations and, worse yet, misinformation is transmitted. There are a few good ones, but how would you know as a student what is adequate? Most importantly, that person in the video cannot watch and coach you.
  • Get started right: Rarely do I have a client that comes to me never having cast or fished before. There are many different reasons for this: cost; an assumption that fly casting will be like spin and bait casting; a friend or relative showed them how; they were told casting is not important, etc. Let’s take each in turn.
    • I like teaching beginners because they have no bad habits. They start fresh and have easier entry into the sport by learning how to get the rod and line to work for them. Otherwise they may struggle, get frustrated, and quit or never get beyond the rudiments of fly fishing.
    • As to expense, the cost of a lesson or two pales in comparison to that of the rod, reel, line, etc. Why not learn to use them properly for best results? There are many gadgets in fly fishing of marginal value the cost of which would be better spent on a lesson. (Leader straighteners and expensive nippers come to mind!)
    • Casting habits from other types of fishing must be changed. Casting a fly rod is unique in the sense that you are really casting the weight of the line. One must learn to form a loop with aerialized line to carry the fly to the target---very different than spin and bait casting!
    • If all one is going to do is fish with nymphs and indicators, then casting isn’t that important. But, in my humble opinion, only fishing with nymphs and indicators is like only learning 3-4 letters of the alphabet. There is so much more to fly fishing. Don’t miss out on the rest of the sport!
    • As for friends and relatives, they might be good casters but are they good instructors? After spending all that money on the gear, you deserve good instruction. An objective instructor is also important. I get calls for help from spouses and relatives of clients and suspect in some cases I am not only teaching casting but saving relationships! Budget a lesson or two into your purchases.
  • Learn a new skill: Great---learning a new, more advanced skill is fun! Examples of frequent requests are distance, double haul, better accuracy, roll cast (a really misunderstood skill!), and dealing with sinking lines and weighted flies---the possibilities are endless. A great benefit of this is that fundamentals improve. For example, the advanced technique of double haul requires a sound basic cast. We have to improve the fundamentals before the student can progress to their objective. Improved fundamentals will help all of your casting and fishing!
  • Solve a specific problem that you observe: Good for you that you identified a problem---even better that you asked for help! Often I find that the reason for the problem is different than the client thinks. For example, the phenomenon of the leader piling up on delivery is common. Most people assume they need more power in the cast. More often the problem is in the back cast and timing. (see my last newsletter)
  • Objective evaluation of your casting with remedies for problems: This is a common reason that people seek my help. Many sense that there is something wrong but can’t identify it. Error analysis is part of my job as well as helping with the fix. The caster is doing two things: unlearning bad habits and learning good ones. This requires patience and practice. The instructor should provide you with what and how to practice.
  • Learn to practice: Practice, apart from fishing, is important to obtain the skills you seek. A good instructor should leave the student with specific instructions about what to practice and how to know they are practicing correctly. If this is not part of your instruction you should ask: ‘what do I practice and how do I know I’m doing it right?’

Second, here are some tips about choosing an instructor:

  • Go to to find an instructor in your area, or find someone recommended by people you know and trust.
  • Call or e-mail that person and tell them your estimated skill level and what you want to learn. If you are an absolute beginner, don’t be afraid to call---many instructors enjoy teaching beginners.
  • It is fair to ask how long they have been teaching, how often they teach, and do they feel prepared to teach the skill you seek. Good instructors should give honest answers and refer you on if they are not the right person for you.
  • Ask about any charge for instruction. Many instructors have a lower cost per person with couples and groups.
  • In some parts of the country, and in some countries, the choices are slim to none. An advantage of our modern times is easily obtainable, transportable video images along with coaching applications on smart phones and other devices. Some instructors are willing to do this; I have given lessons to a fellow in Mexico City in this fashion and his casting significantly improved!


How do I get fewer tangles and knots?

This is a perplexing problem for many of us. This question comes often enough that I put together a short presentation about it. Truth be known we all get knots and when you stop and think it’s surprising that we don’t get more than we do. Causes of tangles or knots (I’ll use these interchangeably) stem from either casting problems, tackle problems or both. There is a short answer and a long answer.

The short answer is: A straight line (under continuous even tension) cannot tangle.

The long answer is:

Casting Problems:

  • Never be in a hurry. It results in tailing loops, overlapping line, and poor presentations. Where is the fish going to go, anyway?
  • A line, leader, and tippet under even tension cannot tangle.
    • Avoid abrupt change in speed of the line
    • Avoid abrupt change in direction of the line
    • After a drift, wait for your line to completely straighten before your next cast
    • Uncontrolled slack is your enemy!
  • Use the least amount of line necessary to get the job done.
    • Many fishers create problems with uncontrolled slack by using too much line
    • Presentation can be ruined by uncontrolled slack
    • Strike detection and hooking is impaired by uncontrolled slack
    • Casting gets difficult if not impossible with uncontrolled slack
  • Learn to cast better.
    • Tailing loops, where the upper leg of the loop dips and wraps around the bottom leg of the loop are the cause of “wind knots.”
    • They are really casting knots caused most often by uneven or rough application of power during the casting stroke.
  • Learn and use the roll cast and even some single handed Spey.
    • Back casts when indicator nymphing are often a recipe for disaster, roll casts and water loaded casts are the answer.
    • Roll casting is often a good technique in the wind
    • Single handed Spey casts keep the line under continuous tension
  • Minimize your back casts and false casts.
    • They are “tangle opportunities” especially in the wind.
    • This especially applies to multiple fly rigs such as double dry and dry dropper, as well as single fly rigs with long tippets.
  • Cast the widest loop you can get away with.
    • Narrow loops (2 feet or less top to bottom leg) are not always the best choice. A 3 foot loop will usually accomplish the same thing. The fish doesn’t care about your loop size. You should care about your loop size to the extent that you have control and it accomplishes what you desire., including not getting a knot.
    • Weighted flies, split shot, and indicators all need to be kept away from the bottom leg of the loop and rod tip.
  • Learn the elliptical or “Belgian cast.”
    • These casts keep the rig under continuous tension
    • Excellent in wind and with weighted flies, especially streamers

Tackle problems:

  • Use the appropriate tippet size and length.
    • For example, you’ve been fishing a size 16 dry fly with 3 feet of 6X and you decide to change to a size 6 streamer. Take a moment to re-size your tippet. By the “Rule of Three” 16/3 = 5 or 6X tippet (.005”-.006”) and 6/3 = 2X tippet (.009”). The 2X tippet makes a difference in how the streamer casts and presents and you’ll get fewer tangles (not to mention a better chance at landing Moby Trout) with the heavier tippet. Also, you don’t need 3 feet of 2X---often only 12 inches. I promise the “moment” you take to change the tippet will be shorter than the one you take to untie the knot(s) if you don’t do it!
    • If you fish sink tips, sinking lines, or perhaps just heavy streamers, shorten your leader to 6 feet or less. Manufacturers make 6 foot/0X leaders---use them! For sinking lines you can often get away with about 3 feet of appropriate size tippet attached directly to the line.
  • Know your limits and don’t get greedy.
    • If you can’t cast dry/dropper without frustration, practice it before you go fishing. Ask an instructor for help. Hint: see Casting Problems above
    • Here in “Bobberado”, uh, I mean Colorado (sorry!) there is no limit to the number of flies you can fish. (This varies state by state.) So, I hear of people forever adding flies to their nymph rigs or dry dropper rigs. I ran into someone once casting 4 nymphs! This is another recipe for disaster. Casting methods become limited and strike detection must become nearly impossible, even with an indicator, not to mention the tangle risk. If you don’t think your rig is working, change it rather than applying a band-aid.
  • Learn how to handle a long, slack leader.
    • This is another area where practice becomes important.
    • Casting problems and tackle problems collide (literally and figuratively) here. Controlled slack is important in many dry fly presentations. With this type of leader increased stroke length (the distance one’s hand moves linearly, not in an arc) is helpful in getting the line/leader under tension.

Looking for past newsletters? Here you go: