By John Byron, The Bonefish Beginner
Tons of great advice out there on how to cast a fly rod. Tons more on how to catch bonefish.
These two streams of good information come together in the universal charge you read over and over again: hey dummy, practice your casting!
These days, travel dead, lodges closed, bonefishing a hope for the future, practicing is good therapy and a great opportunity to be a lot more ready when things do open up again.
Yes it’s true, sometimes you need all the range you can get, heroic throws to the edge of your best abilities. Sometimes too it’s not a cast at all, just a quick flick to put the fly 15 feet from the boat where a fish snuck up on you.
But what should be the goal of your casting practice to tune you best for the majority of shots?
I say it’s fifty feet. An honest fifty feet from the reel to the fly where it lands on the water.
Mark your flyline with a Sharpie at fifty feet, leader included, and leave the rest of the line on the reel when you’re practicing. Hone your casting and aim your practicing to reliably cast fifty feet — all conditions, all directions, all winds. Get good at fifty feet and you’ll catch more bonefish.
Yes, there are guides who’ll say you’ve gotta be good at everything. The answer is … give me as much time on the water as you get and I will be.
The rest of us? Let’s work on what gives us the best shot without all those years’ experience. That’s skill at fifty feet.
If you keep the practice range to fifty feet and ease off the long throws, you’ll gain the abilities you need most of your time on the water. Tighten the loops, land the fly softer, end the wind knots, get really comfortable with your gear.
Probably better at the occasional long shot too. And less prone to attacks of bonefish fever … hey, you’ve done this many many times in practice. Relax. Just do it again.
Earlier this year Frank Catino, a great guide of long standing (Orvis once marketed Catino Bonefish and Tarpon Reels), Frank said something to me that made a ton of good sense as we fished out of South Caicos:
“You only need to cast about fifty feet most of the time. If the fish are farther out, wait till they come to you.”
I tried it, it worked, maybe a couple longer shots and I took them, but the bulk of everything we did was fifty feet or less.
Fifty feet, all directions, all winds.
Master the fifty-foot cast. Practice it until you own that range. You’ll catch more bonefish and be a lot more comfortable doing it.
John Byron lives in Cocoa Beach FL. He’s been fly fishing since he was ten.Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com firstname.lastname@example.org Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!