Welcome Beginners

Part Five

Through The Eyes of a Beginner

By Don McPherson


This is part 5 of a new series, written by a beginning fly angler about his experiences and adventures in the world of fly fishing. It is a documentary - intended to encourage other beginners. It may also revive a few memories from old fly anglers.

Snapping 'em off!

After a long week of work, I looked forward to the weekend with expectations of fishing a new hole I found on the river. I woke up at 6a.m. Saturday gathered my gear and headed out. As I had anticipated, there was no one at my hole. So I rigged up and got in position. I watched the water for a while, wondering what fly to use. Since there were no trout rising, I decided to try a Brassy nymph.

To this day, many of my fly selections are just guesses, I am just starting to understand entomology and the way fish feed, but that's a whole subject in by it's self. I waded out into the river and started casting towards the far bank in hopes of finding a trout lurking there. I wanted to get the nymph right along the bank and was coming up about 15 feet short. So I stripped out some more line and tried to put a little more "umph" in my cast. My idea was to speed up my cast and put more strength into the forward cast. After a few attempts, I was able to reach the spot I wanted. I was feeling pretty good about myself, thinking I had just found a way to increase my casting distance.

After about 10 minutes of casting and slowly drifting my nymph along the bank, I decided it was time to change flies. When I got to the end of my leader, I was a little bewildered when I discovered that my fly was gone. I knew I hadn't snagged it on anything. I was too far in the river to have got hung up on my back cast and I hadn't got hung up on the bank, so I was not sure where my fly had gone. I examined the end of my leader to see if maybe my knot had come untied. But there was no sign of my knot coming undone; the leader was just straight, like someone had cut the fly off. After putting my deductive reasoning to use, I decided that somehow I must have snapped the fly off.

At the time, I thought that maybe I was using the wrong size of leader because I lost another fly the same way as the first. After a few more trips to the stream and a few more flies lost, I decided I had better seek some help with this problem. There was certainly something wrong with my casting but I could not solve the problem myself.

I first went to the flyshop and asked what they thought the problem might be. After getting their opinion, I made a few stops on the Internet and asked the same question. Several folks where kind enough to give their opinion on what was causing my problem and how to solve it. The general onsensus was that I was starting the forward motion of my cast to soon, before my backcast had fully straightened out.

By doing this I was causing a noticeable "snap" in my line, which in fact was snapping my flies off. I received several suggestions about how to cure this problem. All of them suggested that I needed to wait until my backcast had straightened and that the best way to do this was to position myself so I could watch my line through its' complete cycle of backcast and forward cast. This allowed me to watch my backcast and wait until it had straightened out before I began the forward part of my cast.

So the next time I was on the stream I stood with my shoulders at about a 45 degree angle, my casting arm being farthest back, which allowed me to see my back cast unfurl. As soon as it did, I began my forward cast and sure enough, my fly stayed on and soon I was able to increase my casting distance! By watching the cycle of my cast, I discovered that my casting rhythm had slowed down and the whole motion seemed smoother.

Though the tips I received have not cured all my problems, they have slowed down my casting and caused me to pay more attention to the whole motion of the cast. I have also learned that rhythm and applying power at the correct time is much more important than trying to muscle more distance out of your casts. And finally, I once again proved to myself that often times we can cure the vast majority of our problems by just asking someone with a little more experience for help.

Until next time, tight lines!
~ Don McPherson

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Previous Beginners Journal

Return to the Beginners Journal
Part 1 Reflection | Part 2 Sorting the Equipment
Part 3 The New Fly Rod | Part 4 A Little Respect
Part 5 Snapping 'em off! | Part 6 Get a Few Lessons!
Part 7 Stuff | Part 8 Tube It?
Part 9 Take a Little Time


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