A quarterly newsletter from Clear Creek Fly Casting LLC.

Your source for efficient, controlled, effective fly casting

Winter 2018

Hello Again Everyone,

My best wishes to everyone for a great and healthy New Year! I hope to see you on the river, at the fly shop, or maybe even for a lesson! It is shaping up to be a busy 2018 for me. Book now! I teach year round for all your fly casting and fishing needs.

I'm happy to introduce a new service of online booking soon. This will allow viewers to book and pay at the time they are looking at the website rather than hassle with the "back and forth" of contacting me---much more efficient. When online booking goes live, there will be a an updated website with my new logo!


January 5-7, 2018: Free casting consultations and free beginner casting lessons will be offered at the Fly Fishers International booth each day at the show. I and a group of other certified casting instructors will be there!

February 10, 2018: TU West Denver Fly Tying Show: I'll be present again with some demonstrations and free casting consultations as well as a discussion about designing and tying your own leaders. Hope to see you at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds!

April 7-8, 2018: Western Colorado Outdoor and Sportsman Expo, Eagle County Fairgrounds, Eagle, CO: This is a new show this year! I will be sharing a booth with Jeff Powles of FishOn Colorado, a great local guiding company. Stop by and see us and all the other vendors!

April 28-29, 2018: The Fly Fishing Rendezvous, Jefferson County Fairgrounds: Clear Creek Fly Casting will be present again along with the rest of the Fly Fishers International crew for casting demonstrations and fly fishing instruction. At the booth inside the show hall, FFI members will be present to help teach beginners about knots and bugs.

Create your own event: I love teaching groups! Put together a presentation or clinic for your group! It can be a fishing group or a group of interested people that don't fish yet! I can help you tailor instruction to your group's needs. Contact


SLACK: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good...

  • Controlled slack is your friend. Leader and line that land straight often start dragging immediately, and this causes an unnatural presentation. So, how much slack is OK? If you can easily tighten the line down to the point fly by moving the rod tip less than 90 degrees you have relatively controllable slack. This will help your presentation of a drag free drift, but will be within control. If you are trying to animate the fly, such as when we strip streamers or salt water flies, no slack is best.

The bad...

  • Uncontrolled slack is your enemy. Uncontrolled slack means line/leader that cannot be straightened and placed under tension rapidly and easily. I see (and hear) people trying to cast or hook a fish with uncontrolled slack line struggle and curse! Fly lines with low stretch cores do not remedy slack. Here are some tips about avoiding uncontrolled slack and controlling slack.

  • With the possible exception of the roll cast, start every cast with the line straight and the rod tip at or in the water. If one starts the cast with the rod horizontal or higher, all that line draped down to the water is slack. Part of your casting stroke is wasted pulling this out. Worse yet is when the current pushes the line downstream under the rod tip. This happens frequently when making upstream presentations. The solution is to strip in the slack and then make the cast, or pull the slack into a D loop and make a roll cast pick up. Problem solved! If you are using a water tension cast to place your nymph rig back upstream, allow the current to pull the line and leader straight before casting.

  • Improve your back cast. There is a saying: "No back cast, no cast!" Wide loop back casts are tantamount to slack in the system. Much of the forward cast effort is wasted pulling all of the line under tension and up to speed. Unfortunately this trains folks to overpower the forward cast leading to other problems. The forward loop and back loop should look identical or nearly so. The bottom leg of the back loop should be straight and slightly inclined. The power that goes into your back cast should be the same as the forward cast and should be followed by an abrupt stop. Narrower, more efficient back cast loops result and it's easier to make the forward cast.

The ugly...

  • Use the minimum amount of line/leader to get the job done. Many anglers, especially beginners, put too much line out past the rod tip. They end up using 20 ft. of line/leader to cast to a target 10 ft. away! More line on the water just represents more control problems, and fly fishing is all about line control. If it looks like too much line on the water it probably is! Shorten up!

  • After making a cast, tend to your line and keep slack to a minimum. After making an upstream cast, current pushing line downstream toward you creates slack. This must be stripped in without dragging the fly. After casting across stream, competing currents require mending to maintain a drag free drift. Slack is often created after a mend, so keep an eye out for the need to strip some of this in. If you don't think you can pull slack out quickly by moving the rod 90 degrees or less in any direction, you have too much slack.


What line should I buy?

The answer to this often asked question is: it depends. It has become a complicated question because of all the choices out there. Here are some issues to consider and strategies that should help. As always, I'm available to answer more specific questions should you have them at Also, I have a library of 5 wt. trout lines that you are welcome to try---just schedule some time!

Question #1: what will I use the line for? This is a critical question. Line choice for a 3 wt. dry fly rod may be different than a general purpose line or a line for weighted nymphs and streamers. If your desire is a general purpose line, there are a number of those out there.

Question #2: what kind of fishing do I do most often? This is not exactly the same question as #1. Many of us revert to what we know, especially in times of stress (i.e., slow fishing). So you might find yourself trying to sling nymphs with that 3 wt. dry fly rod because the fish are not looking up. In that case, you might be better served with a 3 wt. general purpose line than one with a long fine taper. Remember: 90% of presentation is the caster's responsibility, it's far less dependent on the tackle.

Question #3: what kind of casts will I perform with this line? Some lines roll cast better, some are better for distance, some better for short casts. Pay attention to head length, head profile and the line weight in grains; these are located on the back of the box. Many lines are over weighted now. For example, the Rio Grand 5 wt. is actually a 6 wt. by tackle manufacturer's (AFFTA) standards.

Here are some strategies:

  1. Become a better caster with the tackle you have. You cannot buy a better cast. General purpose lines work because of the caster's casting and presentation skill.

  2. If a friend is recommending a line for you, ask that person if they have that line and might you cast it on your rod. Different rods can make the line feel different, and vice-versa. At the end of the day, you have to be happy, not your friend or the fly shop staff.

  3. Ignore marketing but do pay attention to details such as line wt. in grains (140 grains) relative to the AFFTA designation (5 wt.), head profile and head length.

  4. Take the rod you intend to use to the fly shop when shopping.

  5. Go to a good fly shop (in the Denver area such as Angler's All on South Santa Fe) that may have the line you are interested in spooled up to try.

  6. Cast the rod with line wt. recommended for it (5 wt. for a 5 wt.), but also one line wt. lighter and one heavier (4 wt. & 6 wt.). Do this even if it's just a generic "demo. line." Cast the distances and types of casts you commonly make. For instance, there is little information gained casting for distance with a line you will primarily use at 30 ft. or less. See what feels best to you. The recommended wt. on the rod is expert opinion, but it may not match your preference. A heavier wt. line (within reason) will not harm the rod.

  7. If you cast short most of the time, over weighted lines might feel better, especially if you have a fast action rod.

  8. If you roll cast a lot, a head profile with a lot of mass pushed towards the tip is not the best choice.

  9. If you are casting long, longer head lengths will help carry more line in the air and over weighted lines may not be the best choice.

  10. If you are stripping short, picking up and casting long, such as with streamers and salt water, a shorter, heavier head is often helpful.

Looking for past newsletters? Here you go: