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
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
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
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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