Fly Presentation

The most important factor in catching fish using a fly rod is presentation. The fish are in the water, a stream, lake, or ocean, and you want the fish to see your offering as though it was a real insect, crustacean, or whatever you are trying to imitate. This is one reason one uses tippets that are so small in diameter they become invisible and, in stream fishing, one wants the fly to float without showing any drag from being attached to your fly line. An important element in presenting this “natural” quality is casting.

“Matching the hatch” is important as seasons change throughout the year. To make this a reality, it is best to become a good caster. One does not have to be a long caster, unless the need presents itself. More important than length is accuracy, and along with accuracy is speed with which the fisherman delivers the fly, especially if sight fishing. It is not difficult to learn to be a reasonably good caster, but it takes practice.

One might distinguish casting in several classes, each with its own special needs, including casting in streams for fish under the surface, in fast moving streams for surface feeding fish, in slower water in streams, in lakes for fish under the surface, in lakes for fish on the surface, in salt water for unseen fish under the surface, and in salt water for seen fish.

We learned to cast largely by reading books on fly casting and having others observe and criticize our casting, not on the river but on land. Photography has made such technological improvements that fly casting books, with photographs capturing the line in air at crucial junctures of the cast, make it reasonably easy to make good progress on one’s own. My strong view is for the learner to concentrate not on achieving great distance, but to focus on accuracy and speed of delivery. Placing a target on the ground can improve accuracy.

The more fly line is on the water after the cast, the more things that can result in a bad presentation. It is for these reasons that my goal is always to get as close to the feeding fish as possible. Getting close means that I can have a drag free float, and the shorter the line from the tip of my rod to the fish, the greater the likelihood of a good hook-up, and the greater the likelihood of landing the fish.

At this time I will allow video and text describe “single haul” and “double haul.” However, the purpose of “single haul” and double haul” is to increase line speed for a greater casting distance. “Double hauling” comes into play when one wants to place a fly in a precise spot as quickly as possible at a longer distance. This comes into play when fishing for tarpon, bonefish, striper and bass. Yes, I did say striper and bass. When striper and other bass are schooling and feeding on the surface, the fly rod can be just as affective as a spinningrod when comes to accuracy and distance.

Salt-water fly fishing is different than fresh water in the following respects. Most fresh water fly fishermen never use a line heavier than an eight weight, and most salt-water fishermen seldom use a line lighter than an eight weight. The reason is the fly line is heavier in salt water and the rod needs to be stiffer. The reels are also different in salt water fishing in that a more refined braking system with a larger backing reserve is required.

Have you noticed each year manufactures offer a new rod with greater technology? It is supposed to make us better fishermen. However, they cannot sell accuracy. They market distance, but stiffer rods are more difficult to load, which means more back casts to load them. Excessive back casting can reduce the number of hookups because the fish can be gone before the fly hits the water. One should learn to make “one” cast to the fish, and with practice it can be done. If you are right handed and If enough line lies in your waist pouch or below your feet, and you allow a “downward bow” in the line from rod tip to your right hand (without the line touching the ground), your right thumb and index finger can hold the fly in the “bend” of the hook under the rod handle as your other fingers hold on to he rod. It is important to hold the hook point in such a way, when it comes out of your fingers, it does not hook your thumb or finger. In doing so, you can make "one" long cast in one back cast.

It has always seemed curious to me how numbers of people confuse fishing with casting. Casting is not fishing, and back casting is not fishing. Fishing is executing a plan one has made to accomplish some objective. Fishing is the result of a number of decisions one makes about where and how to fish. Often the decision about where to fish is made on some criterion that may seem basically to contradict some objective such as catching fish. Equipment planning, water and weather observation, seasonal factors are all important. After one has picked a place to fish, then one must decide how one is going to fish. This is a weak element in many fishermen’s regime. They drive to a spot, pull out their fishing gear, and begin to cast, always to call it fishing. A crucial element in successful fishing is once on the water is to observe and think. Are there any signs of feeding fish? Using one’s senses is an important element in fly fishing.

I will often chose to fish in a certain way, to use a dry fly, because I have more enjoyment in seeing a fish take the fly than when using a nymph, even reasoning a head of time that I will catch more fish nymphing. Familiarity breeds some bad habits in that fishing at a given spot, using the same tactics, over the years leads to a failure to freshly think each trip. Always take a few minutes to think about what you are doing before you do it, and keep the thinking hat always on when fishing. I find this particularly difficult as my attention moves from catching a fish to the sky, wildlife, vegetation, sounds, and the whole enchilada that some call fishing.