Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Saltwater Fly Fishing For Inshore Game Fish:
Part Four: Mastering the Cast

By Capt. Douglas Sinclair

This probably sounds like a really dumb idea. We all know how to fly cast. Well maybe you'd like some tips from a guy who casts great when people are watching, but gets sloppy when they are not. Which is not good to do. Actually I'm pretty accurate and a long caster usually 70 feet on a single cast on average. This has everything to do with technique and using the rod's torque action efficiently.

Too often I find myself giving my crews tips on ways to improve their casts. This usually comes down to more efficient ways to haul or double haul. Haul, double haul is not done as often in freshwater because you don't need casts longer than say 30 to 40 feet. On a saltwater flat stealth and a long cast is the name of the game. You really can't afford a lot of false casts. You need to get a long cast out there with as little movement as possible. The haul and double haul executed well will get a cast out 50 to 70 feet on one cast, two at the most.

When you are in a flats boat, in 18 inches of water or less, any movement (side-to-side) will create wave action. The wave action translates into sonar signals that spook game fish. The more motionless that you can be during a cast the more successful you will be in hook ups and catching fish. I have a close friend who loves to do a perfect cast. He moves back and forth Lefty can't you talk to this guy? He not only scares the fish with his side-to-side motion, but he has launched me off the poling platform a countless number of times.

Let's review some basics:
Casting requires excellent timing and discipline to control the speed of the loading and unloading of the line on the rod and the eventual release of the fly to the water. The object (salt and fresh are alike in this respect) is to get the fly down on the water SOFTLY. If you rush the rod and it's whipping motion the line will collapse, or worse you'll hook up the guide on the poling platform or take your friends ear off.

The perfect cast is one where the maximum efficiency of effort is sustained. What does that mean? Think of casting as a fluid motion. In a golf swing, if it is done properly, the pro will say, "Didn't feel anything did you?" His point is the motion and the club or the rod did the work as it should be. In casting, as in fishing, a lot of what we do and how we do it has to do with the position of our hands. We are learning to let our equipment do the job. I always tell casters, and I do this myself, to look at the rod as the line loads and unloads. Have both hands follow each other during the motion.

If you look at the rod when you load it during a cast, you'll see the tip bend backward; then you'll see, as well as feel, the mid-section load, and finally you'll feel and notice the rod bend into the butt. If we had a video camera and you could see this in slow motion, you'd know exactly what I am referring to.

Though the motion is not quick, the sensation is, because you are releasing energy through the rod by the accelerating line. Makes sense, right? Do one more thing during this casting motion. Take the hand that feeds the line (if you are holding the rod in your right hand, the feed hand is your left hand) and have it follow the motion of the rod. Both hands are moving in the same direction.

I know Lefty doesn't do it that way. Humor me, try it. This works really well when I am teaching a novice angler to use a fly rod and it has helped more experienced anglers as well. It works. What you will find is the haul action is accentuated more with the feeder hand close to the front cork on the rod. On the haul you'll pull the line down about 8 inches and feed the line to the back cast. As you move the rod down and in a parallel motion forward (don't let the loop go down), the feed hand moves down and hauls again about 8 inches and allows the line to feed out in the forward cast. Try this. You will be surprised that you've added another 20 feet to your cast. If you feed slowly then you'll probably need to back cast again and then forward to a final release.

If you continue the casting motion, you'll feel the energy move from the butt to the tip, propelling the line outward in a loop that extends away from the rod. The more you feel in control of the tip at this point, the more you can feel the tip load and unload during the cast the more control you'll have over the line and the more effortless and efficient the cast will be.

You will definitely feel the unloading sensation in the final cast to your target. Efficient casting doesn't have to be pretty, just effective. The most artful casts (to my friends who love casting into the backing, I apologize) don't always catch fish. But don't forget your timing. Your aim is to get the fly to the fish as fast and as quietly as possible. This progressive loading and unloading facilitated by the art of hauling and double hauling is something to work on. In time you will get comfortable with the motion and have a great time doing it. This will improve your success, build your confidence and impress everyone who sees you out on the water enjoying the very sport we love. ~ Doug

Next time: Four Flies, All You Need!

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