More fly casting tips (16-23)

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Fly casting tip 16

Lengthening line

Lengthening your fly line is done with the line in the air. First, while your line is still on the water (or on the grass), pull out about two feet of line from your reel with your left hand. Hold this line in your left hand in a loose coil.

Make your pick-up, back cast and forward cast just as usual, But just after you have “put your thumb into your forward cast,” right at the point where you stop the rod at 22 1/2 degrees above horizontal, let go of the loose line in your left hand and let the pull of your forward moving line draw it out over the water (or grass) in front of you.

This fly casting tip is called shooting the line.

The timing of the shoot is important. If you let go of the loose line too soon, your line will either go up into the air, or it will not be fully extended in front of you. If you shoot the line too late, the pull of your line will have stopped and the loose line won’t go out at all. It’ll take you a little while to find just the right time for the shoot, but if you keep trying to let the loose line go just when your line is pulling forward hardest, you’ll soon be able to shoot out not only the two feet you’ve been holding, but from five to twenty feet of loose line as well on a single cast.

Fly casting tip 17

Shortening line

This fly casting tip, is done by shortening line while casting is done by pulling in line with the left hand. You just reach up and take hold of the line below the first guide on the rod and pull back what line you want brought in.

If you want to shorten line more than a few feet, put the line over your index finger and under your second and third finger of the hand that is holding the rod. With the line in this position you have only to loosen the grip of the second and third fingers of your casting hand while you pull the line through under them with your left hand. When you have enough line brought in, just close the fingers of your casting hand; and the line is again tightly held.

The best time to shorten line in the air is just as you start the back cast—particularly for a false cast.

Instead of this fly casting tip, there is another good method of shortening line that you’ll want to use in wet fly stream fishing. Ray Bergman, one of America’s greatest fishermen, calls it the “hand twist” retrieve. It is a way of shortening line with the left hand alone, yet keeping the line taut at all times so you can hook a fish if you get a strike while retrieving. The hand twist retrieve can also be made with the fly in the air while making the back cast.

Here is the way you do it: Reach up towards the first guide on your rod and take the line between your thumb and index finger of your left hand. Pull the line in as far as your thumb and finger will move normally. Then reach up with your other three fingers and pull the line in with them as far as they will normally move. This will bring your thumb and index finger into position to make another pull with them. You just alternate the two pulls until you have retrieved as much line as you wish. Keep a steady and even rhythm, which may be made slow or fast according to the fishing requirements.

In picking-up your line from the water in starting the back cast, always be sure the line is taut before you start. If there is loose or sunken line, pull it in with the left hand before starting your pick-up.

Fly casting tip 18

Fly casting a two-handed job

As you become more familiar with fly casting Like reading these fly casting tips), learn to use your left hand to help your casting hand control the line. Modern fly casting is a two-handed job.

Let me give you an example of this. Often when dry fly fishing upstream, the line floats down too close for a good pick-up. Even after you’ve pulled in the slack line with your left hand, the current keeps drifting the fly towards you so fast that your rod is going to have to be tipped too far back to get the proper high back cast.

Fly casting tip 19

Left hand pull

Instead of just making a low, sloppy back cast, use your left hand to make a rhythmic pull on the line while your right hand is making the pick-up and lift of the back cast. The left hand pull on the line will speed the pick-up tremendously. This will give you a powerful high back cast under conditions that would make a good single-handed back cast impossible.

The greater flexibility of handling the pick-up with two hands allows you to perfect one detail of the pick-up that I haven’t mentioned. Your line will make less disturbance in coming off the water if it is travelling towards you, and if the lift is not given until only one or two feet of the leader are still on the water. This is the ideal condition for the pick-up; but it is not always possible in stream fishing without the help of your left hand pull. With both hands you can practically always manage it. Nice fly casting tip or what?

Fly casting tip 20

Long casts

You seldom need to cast more than fifty feet in either dry fly or wet fly fishing. However, there are times when a sixty, seventy, eighty or even a ninety foot cast is necessary to reach a feeding fish across heavy, unwadeable current. It’s a good thing for a finished fly caster to be able to make long casts when necessary. If you are a beginner don’t try it until you have learned the form thoroughly for ordinary distances.

Real distance fly casting, up to Dick Miller’s world’s record of 183 feet long cast, is a specialized performance; but here is the way you can lengthen your casting range for practical fishing up to eighty or ninety feet. In the first place, you should use a rod with plenty of power in the middle section, and use a double-tapered line to fit the rod.

Lets explain the next fly casting tip. In making the pick-up for a long cast, lean forward and take hold of the line close up to the first guide; as you make the lift for the back cast, give a sweeping and powerful left hand pull.

The back cast should be powerful and made to throw the line in a needle-sharp, narrow loop behind you. Stop the power lift with the rod at the usual 22 1/2 degrees back of the vertical position; then, after the line has already started back so the power is off the rod, raise and drift your hand and full arm up and back until you are reaching full length backward in the direction of the back cast.

During this drift, turn your body around to the right and at the same time let your left hand and arm move up and back so that they are also reaching in the direction of the back cast. This action takes place during what would be the pause in an ordinary length cast.

When the line has straightened behind, start the forward cast, aimed slightly higher than normal, with a spearing thrust. As the forward cast is started, the body turns to the front to make a powerful thrust that is more forward than downward. The thumb is put into the forward cast at the usual angle, but at this same time the left hand, (still holding the line) which has drifted forward with the casting hand, is brought down and backward in a slashing left hand pull. Immediately after the completion of this left hand pull, let go of the loose coils of line you have been holding and shoot all the line you can. This shoot should be at least 20 feet and, if your left hand pull technique is good, may be as much as 40 feet.

The perfection of this long distance casting takes great accuracy in timing. You may not achieve that. However, if you’ve never done any distance work, even a little study and practice of these long range casting methods will so increase your distance that you’ll probably be able to cast farther than you can properly hook a fish anyhow.

Fly casting tip 21

Casting in a wind

You’ll often fish in the wind; for that reason, you need to know how to handle a fly line under all practicable wind conditions. Let’s suppose, first, that the wind is at your back. If it’s just a light wind, this will actually help you. With wind back of you, it is necessary to use more power and to carry the rod just a little farther back on the back cast. Do not overdo this carrying the rod a little farther back. If you go too far you’ll spoil the high back cast you still want. If the wind is strong, use a left hand pull on the back cast to drive the line into the wind—and be sure you cast a tight loop on the back cast.

With a wind back of you, reduce the power put in the forward cast and stop the rod a little Higher at the end of it. The stronger the wind, the greater degree of these wind measures you take.

Fishing a dry fly with a wind back of you, be very careful to put the fly down even more lightly than usual or you’ll sink it. This was fly casting tip 21.

Fly casting tip 22

Casting into a side wind

If you are casting into the wind—a very common condition in dry fly fishing because you fish upstream and the wind usually blows downstream—you reverse the wind measures. In this case shorten the back cast so that the rod is stopped at the vertical instead of the usual position; bring the rod lower down on the forward cast—to the horizontal position instead of 22 1/2 degrees above that. This will give you a tighter loop in the line.

The thumb pressure at the end of the forward cast should also be made sharper. An increase in the spearing thrust at the start of the forward cast also helps drive a fly fine into the wind. If the wind is very strong, your final measure is a sharp, short left hand pull on the line just as you give the final thumb-pressure drive to the rod or the forward cast.

Now suppose you have a wind from the left side. In this case, tip the plane of your cast from vertical to the right hand side. You do this by tilting the tip of your rod at an angle to the right in making the back cast. Do not carry your elbow any farther to the right—just tip your forearm, hand and rod to the right—and do the pick-up and back cast in that tilted plane. The travel of the line from the right towards the left will counter-balance the wind. The stronger the wind the more you tilt the plane of your cast against it. In this cast, the line on both the back cast and the forward cast will travel to the right hand side of the rod.

If the wind is blowing from the right side, you reverse this side-wind maneuver: tip your arm and rod to the left. This causes your forward cast to travel from left to right, into die teeth of the wind. It thus neutralizes the force of the wind. In this cast, be sure to carry the line on both back and forward casts on the left side of your rod.

You can handle a head wind from the right hand side by tipping your rod to the left and driving your forward cast lower in front.

For a head wind from the left, tilt your rod to the right, stop the rod at vertical on the back cast and drive your rod down to the horizontal on the forward cast.

If you have a strong wind from the back and left side, tip your rod to the right and use a left hand pull on the back cast. Line travels to the right of the rod on this cast.

For a strong wind from the back and right side, tilt your rod to left and use a left hand pull on the back cast.

Fly casting tip 23

Side wind casts

In these side wind casts, you must be careful to keep the whole cast in one plane. If you tilt your rod 20 degrees to one side, then be careful to hold your rod at the same twenty degree angle during the pause and bring the rod back on the forward cast at the same 20 degree tilt. Everyone doing these side wind casts for the first time is inclined to make the back cast with the required tilt of the rod; then, during the pause and forward cast, bring the tip of the rod in a gradual circle so that the cast finishes with the rod almost back in a vertical plane. This causes a curve in the end of the line as it falls on the water. Tournament casters call this a “cow’s tail.”