THE JOY OF CASTING
I like casting a fly rod! Good thing, because I spend most of my time on an Atlantic salmon river here in central Quebec. The famous fish of ten thousand casts! There are plenty of opportunities to practice our casting and presentations.
Sunshine, dry flies and friends! – A switch rod is a versatile tool.
I also like to have fun casting. That is, I’ll usually have at least 2, but usually 3 or more rods strung up to accommodate different conditions and targets.
Typically, for a morning of salmon on my home waters, I’ll have an 8wt – 10ft, some 6 or 7wt 10 footers and recently, a 5wt 11ft switch rod. After all, fishing here isn’t a numbers game. Quality seems to reign over quantity, so we might as well have fun casting!
This past season, I was still feeling out a new switch rod. I have spooled this rod up using a “classic” spey line so it is mostly for downstream wets. In a pinch, it loads nicely with an overhead cast and can still present a big bushy dry fly with no problem at all.
Since I was still working on a groove and proper anchor placement, I dropped down to the #8 pool. A perfect left to right run, for my, a right hander, it would be just fine for some d-loop practice. When I say practice, I don’t mean practicing distance casting. Sure it’s fun to double haul and see a dozen feet of backing stream out the guides, … then again, at that distance, precision and presentation can start looking a bit weird.
When I’m out practicing, I like to start short. I find that, it is much more difficult to cast less than 50 feet than it is to cast 65 feet! Out the window goes a myth about Atlantic salmon fishing. Most presentations on my home waters are under 60 feet! For example, the line on my switch rod had a 48 foot head. The rod will not load properly with more than that out the guides. With a 16 foot leader, this means my casts on the swing are all less than 65 feet!
This afternoon, there is a pretty stiff breeze coming down the river, so I can’t really do a simple double spey. I strip line off of the spool until the color code tells me that the head is off the reel (I wonder why all lines don’t have this??). I let the line dangle downstream to my right and use a brisk snake roll to bring the line back up towards me and anchor properly.
I only plan on practicing shooting line off of a glorified roll cast, so I’ve tied on a #8 Mickey Finn. The current here is steady and firm so the fly is tied in regular proportions (not too sparce, not to full).
I love casting. While I’m casting, I don’t think about bills, deadlines, nor projects. There is no cell phone service in the valley, so that isn’t even a problem. Paradoxically, I don’t think about the cast either. If I do, I start getting wind knots or a fly in the back of my head. No, I simply look at the target and the fly just seems to go there!
Pickup, loop, anchor, roll, mend. Pickup, loop, anchor, roll, mend. Pickup, loop, anchor, roll, mend … I side step down the run about 2 feet before each pickup and I’m mending a downstream belly into the line to get a bit more speed into the swing.
I get a bit mesmerized while I fish, especially on downstream presentations. So much so, that when the line gives a tug, then a pull, I almost drop the rod!
Thankfully, the salmon has decided to take the fly cleanly and turn away from me, keeping the line taught and setting the hook all by himself!
The #8 pool is a long run with a rapid at its base (behind off image to the right)
The salmon decides that this isn’t such a nice place to hole up and continues turning; broad side to the current he heads downstream for another zip code! I have a medium weight tippet so I can easily put pressure on the rod. The fact that I know he is hooked on the near side of his mouth means I can pull even harder once he turns back towards me.
The water is quite warm so instead of waiting for him to turn again I chase him down along the beach, spooling as fast as I can to recuperate line and get along side him. Large or mid-arbor reels are a blessing in this situation.
Mid way down the beach, I’m huffing and puffing when I catch up and he is now straight out from me. A long rod helps here and I can put side pressure on him. (don’t laugh, you try sprinting down a soft sand beach in waders and boots!!) Within 5 minutes he is at hand. The barbless hook easily slides out and 12-14 lbs of very angry Salmo salar is back on his way into the depths of the pool.
I find a lot of pleasure in the simple act of casting a fly rod. Then again, once in a while, it is a whole lot of fun connecting!
Christopher Chin, Proulxville Quebec