Fishing Fast

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Louis Cahill Photography

Louis Cahill Photography

By Owen Plair

There are a lot of situations where fishing fast is the difference in getting an eat or the fish not seeing your fly.

Either because the fish is very close to the boat, or moving at an angle where you only get one cast. When it comes to sight fishing, we’ve all had that surprise fish. That one fish that seems to come out of the magical hat in a split second, 30ft of the skiff. There isn’t much time to present a fly to those close distance, or magic hat fish, but here are a few things that will have you prepared for fishing fast, and putting more magic hat fish on the fly.

How do you fish fast or exactly how do you define fishing fast?

The first, and most important, rule is being ready and aware on the bow. Keep 6-9 ft of fly line out of the tip of your rod while holding your leader or fly in your line hand. This is called the ready position and it’s key to getting a good first cast off. Keeping 6-9 ft of fly line out of the tip of your rod will help your rod load faster on the first casting stroke and allowing you to get that short distance between 20-30ft of fly line out very fast. Sometimes that 6-9ft of fly line along with a 9-12ft leader is all you need for an up close, in your face shot at a fish. Holding your fly or leader keeps the fly ready to fish, instead of dangling in the water getting the chance to hook up on the bottom or on a piece of grass when you go to cast.

Line management is a big part of being ready to fish fast. Make sure you always have enough fly line stripped out from the reel, usually safe with 30-60ft, maybe more or less depending on the fishing scenario. Most shots are between 30-60ft in your average sight fishing situation, so no need to strip out your entire fly line off the reel. That will just cause more heartache with tangles, especially on a windy day.

You want to have your line in a safe area, where there nothing to snag. Whether it’s on the bow, in a stripping bucket, or on the floor of the skiff. Your fishing partner can help with line management while fishing and also going bare foot on the bow will keep you from standing on line. In the colder months wear thick socks!

Understanding how to read the water, and spot fish will help you greatly.

The thing I find works best is to look outside the box. Look for something in the water that is different from everything else. Whether it’s a tail from 150ft away, a simple push from a fish working the flat, a school of fish swimming slowly in your direction.

Always look around you. Study the environment you’re fishing and be aware of things that look different. Understanding the difference between bait working on a flat and actual fish will save you a lot of, “Is that a fish?” or “There’s one!”

Always have your eyes relaxed and ready for anything that shows up.

I like it when a guest spots a shark, or ray swimming in the water, because it shows their aware of anything swimming around us.

Please don’t pull out your phone or turn around to have a conversation with your buddy when you’re fishing. Two sets of eyes are always better than one, and will save you time trying to find the fish to make a cast.

One last thing that will help you fish faster is to keep your false casts to a minimum. Minimal false casting not only puts the fly in front of the fish faster, it also reduces the odds of spooking a fish with the shadow of the fly line, or fly. Shooting line out on your back cast and forward cast will help you work out more line, achieve more load in the rod, higher line speed, and longer distance cast.

Of course it all depends on the situation.

For example, with tailing redfish on the flood tide here in the Lowcountry. Sometimes a redfish will be tailing 20ft from the boat. With 3 false casts you should be able to present the fly within a 20-30ft distance. Practice getting your line out with the least amount of false cast possible. That will not only help with fast short distance casts, but also longer distance scenarios.

Picking up line and re-casting is a good skill to have. If you make a cast behind the fish, simply pick, do a back cast, and put the fly back down. Don’t try and strip in the line if you already have the distance laid out. Shooting line will also help on your presentation, when you need that extra 5-10ft fast. Always make sure to keep your line hand on the line, ready to pinch so you don’t over shoot the fish. The back cast presentation is also a huge help when sight fishing. Sometimes the guide doesn’t have time to spin the boat and being able to make a good, accurate back cast can be a game changer when fishing fast.

The great thing about sight fishing is that you never know what’s going to happen next and being ready at all times pays off. There are so many situations when fishing short and fast is the key to a great day of fishing. Of course being able to bomb a long cast will help sometimes but I would say almost 75% of your shots are going to be between 30-60ft. If you’re ready on the bow and able to make a quick accurate cast, it will be a life long asset to your ability as a fly angler. Always be ready and always be aware when you’re on the hunt.

 Here are a couple of videos that might help.

Owen Plair
Gink & Gasoline
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