This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
May 22nd, 2006

Downstream and Dry

There are some 'tricks' which, once learned, can make a big difference in your catching success. After you've used them a while, they become automatic. So when you see someone not using them it strikes an dissident chord, sort of like fingernails on a chalkboard. I'm sure you've seen it too, or heaven forbid, are guilty yourself. I don't mention this to criticize, but rather to help you improve your ability.

Here's the thing. You can make casting easy, and pretty effortless (there is some work of course) or you can work your butt off and not be able to place your fly where you need it to be. Joan Wulff said it, and I'm paraphrasing here; You can know everything about the fish and what it eats, but it you can't put the fly where the fish is, you're out of the ballgame.

If you are casting with your arm extended either in front, or to the side you have a problem. You are not using the advantage of the muscles which give you the power to deliver the cast. If your arm is out to the side, there is no strength in your arm to sustain casting. Not only do you not have any power, but you tire very quickly.

Extending the arm in front, that is not keeping the arm close to your body, and opening the space between your shoulder and hand to more than 90 degrees takes away the advantage of using your upper arm muscles to do the work. There is work to be done. You must apply power to both the forward and back cast, and STOP the rod in both directions.

An example is to think of a good boxer. How does he deliver a punch? With his arm extended? Does he stick his arm out, bend his wrist and then hit his opponent? Or does he start out close to his body and then use his upper arm and shoulder muscles? Does he hold his arm out extended to the side and then bend his elbow and make a punch? No. He has his arm and hand close to his body. Anything else simply has no power. Wimpy doesn't work.

You can see a fisherman with his arm more extended in front of him, pointing the rod at the fish AFTER the stop of the rod has been made. But to be an effective caster, you also need to conserve energy. Let the rod do the work and be able to fish longer - and put the fly where the fish are.

One more thing. My husband JC and I prefer to fish dry flies. You may not, your choice. But for those who want to fish dry flies, the old adage is "Upstream and Dry." That method really is preferable, but because of various conditions on the stream, may not be possible.

So what do to when you just can't get a proper drift on a fly? What if you can't fish upstream and there are rising fish downstream? One of the usual methods is to cast downstream and feed line out to where the fish are. You can hook fish that way, but most often the hook is in the top of the mouth where it has little chance to hold since the lip is very thin. Or, worse, as you lift your rod to set the hook you pull it out of the fish's mouth. Remember those downstream fish are facing upstream.

So what to do?

Make the cast downstream, and then - here's the trick - with the tip of your rod make a small mend. The mend will allow the leader and fly to float ahead of the flyline with just enough slack to be able to hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. It takes a little practice, but try it. It will help your catching.

So there are two tips to put you ahead of the game. Go fish. ~ The LadyFisher

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