Advanced Fly Casting Techniques
Advanced Fly Casting Techniques for Small Streams
Whenever you are fishing on one of the small, mountain streams here in western North Carolina, there are three key elements that you must keep in the forefront of your mind in order to be successful and they are: approach, precision, and presentation. Therefore, it is often helpful to adopt the mentality of a hunter rather than that of a fisherman. For instance, your approach must be stealthy and done in such a way that the trout is not aware of your presence or it will run for cover and ignore your fly. Also, in order for the trout to see you fly, you must present it precisely so that it lands within their cone of vision which can be quite small in shallow water (see How a Trout Sees His World). Last, in order to convince the trout to strike your fly, it must be presented in such a way that it appears as if it is truly an insect rather than a piece of drifting debris. So, while all of this may be obvious to you, the actual execution is far more difficult than it sounds and thus requires good planning, good casting skills, and understanding of how the insect you are imitating acts when floating in the water column.
Roll Cast- the preferred tactic when you are backed up against streamside foliage where back casting room is unavailable or when strong winds make back casting impractical.
Objective: To cast the fly when there is not enough room behind you or the wind is too strong for your back-cast to straighten in.
To perform this cast, hold the rod horizontally in front of you and lift the rod tip until it is straight up in the air. Then, tilt the rod back and to either the right or left hand side of your body and then stop for a moment to allow the line to form a D shaped loop. Then move the rod tip forward toward your intended target.
Curve Cast- the preferred tactic to prevent lining a lie when casting upstream.
Objective: The curve cast is useful when presenting the fly around surface objects or when preventing the leader and fly line from being seen by a fish as the fly passes over it.
The Curve Cast is an overpowered sidearm cast performed horizontally that causes a left or right hand curve to form in the end of the fly line just before it lands on the water and is a variation of the standard forward casting stroke. To perform this cast, use a Sidearm Cast and slightly overpower the cast during the forward power stroke. This will cause a curve to form in the line that will allow the fly to land on either the right or left hand side of your intended target.
Reach Cast- Reach casting allows the fly, leader, and line to be presented to a target area at an extreme right-hand or left-hand angle from the caster. The Reach Cast is especially useful when presenting a fly across a stream that has several current speeds.
Objective: to prevent the fly from dragging downstream faster than the water on which it lands.
To perform this cast start with a standard Forward Cast and as the line straightens above the water, move the rod tip sharply to the right or the left so that the line lands upstream of the fly.
Slack-Line or Serpent Cast- is the preferred tactic for fishing upstream because it allows the fly to float without dragging and is especially useful when casting across the current to a calm pocket.
Objective: To land the line in a series of S curves to achieve a drag fee drift.
To perform this cast, first visualize a target two to three feet above the water. Next, cast the fly to your imagined target using a standard forward cast while aiming above the horizontal while applying extra power to the forward power stroke thus causing the line to shoot forward at a high rate of speed. Then allow the line to fully straighten and then spring back toward you thus landing in a series of S curves that will provide the fly with a drag free drift.
Pile Cast- the preferred tactic for fishing across the stream in fast current and it is an overpowered Forward Cast that causes the leader to land in a series of S curves to provide the fly with a drag free drift.
Objective: To land the leader in a series of S curves to achieve a drag free drift.
To perform this cast, first visualize a target two to three feet above the water. Next, cast the fly to your imagined target using a standard forward cast while aiming above the horizontal and then quickly drop the rod tip to the water before the line straightens. This removes the forward energy provided by the forward cast and caused the fly line to fall to the water in a series of "S" curves before fully straightening.
Parachute Mend- the preferred tactic for fishing downstream because it allows the fly to float without dragging.
Objective: to land the line and leader straight on the water but short of the target and then feed the line to the current by slowly dropping the rod tip.
The Parachute Mend is a tight-line cast that allows the fly to float downstream without dragging and is especially useful when fishing directly downstream. To perform this mend, use a standard Forward Cast and as the line straightens in the air (and before it begins to fall) draw the rod tip back toward you until it's pointing straight up. Then, as the fly line settles onto the water, lower the rod tip and allow the fly to drift with the current.
Shooting a fly line is a means of increasing the distance of over which a angler can cast a fly line. It is accomplished by imparting extra power to the fly rod during the forward power stroke and then releasing the fly that is held in the line hand and letting the line slide through the guides as it sails through the air. At the start of the forward cast, the line is clasped tightly by the fingers of the line hand and is then released at the end of the forward power-stroke by opening the line hand and allowing line to slide over the line hand; thus “shooting” the line through the air.
Hauling is a technique used to increasing the speed of a fly line during a cast by tugging on the line during the backward and/or forward cast. To accomplish either a single or double haul, use the hand that is holding the fly line to pull the line away from the rod hand as the power stroke is applied to the fly rod with the casting hand. This action applies extra pressure to the tip of the rod which causes it to load more deeply and thus impart more energy to the fly line.
Mending a fly line is a technique used for repositioning the fly line and leader upstream on moving water in order to achieve a drag free drift. It is accomplished by applying a gentle, upstream, roll cast to the fly line.