Sunday Classic / Casting for Distance

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Is your distance casting up to par? Photos By: Louis Cahill

Saltwater fly fishing often calls for long accurate casts for the chance of success, and quite often it holds just as true on your favorite trout streams. Of the countless hours I’ve spent guiding my trout clients the past ten years, I’ve witnessed over and over again, how important just a couple more feet of distance can be in getting a trout to eat.

You just can’t always approach a hole and make a routine short cast. Often no matter how stealthy you are, you’ll spook the fish if you try getting closer. Occasionally, obstacles such as low hanging trees can make it impossible to get the proper casting angle unless your standing farther away. Other times you may run into a situation where different current speeds between you and your target require a longer cast to get an adequate drag free drift.

That’s why it’s so important for fly anglers to get comfortable making above average casts. I’m not saying you have to be able to bomb out eighty feet of line, or that you’ll have to make super long casts all the time either. I’m just saying, there are times when you won’t be fishing that angler friendly pocket water that just calls for short roll casts and quick high-stick drifts. You need to be prepared to make longer casts when the need arises.

Believe it or not, quite often trout will follow your flies down stream a good ways before deciding to eat. If your fly gets too close to you the trout will often see you and won’t eat. Making a longer presentation will provide that buffer zone for the trout to inspect and eat without seeing you. Remember that trout don’t have eyes in the back of their head as well. If you don’t get your fly out in front of them and in their field of view, you won’t get takes. If I’m fishing a section of water with my client and I know there’s trout in the area, but the client isn’t getting bites, I’ll just have them move up four or five steps closer to the target. More times than not they’ll get a bite on their next cast. The key factor for success usually falls down to getting your dry fly up ahead, where the trout can spot it, or getting your nymph rig upstream enough to allow time for the nymphs to sink down to the strike zone.

Practice your distance casting if you feel your skills are falling a little short in this area. Don’t just practice your dominate forward cast either. Being able to make a long backhand presentation is just as important. If you fish enough locations and different types of water, eventually you’ll run into situations where distance will play a major factor in your success. It’s all up to you if you’ll be ready.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Casting for Distance

  1. Nice article, only one thing i’d look at:
    “Remember that trout don’t have eyes in the back of their head as well. If you don’t get your fly out in front of them and in their field of view, you won’t get takes.”

    Ever watch Underwater World of Trout? Oz makes a camera boom and basically replicates what a trout MAY be able to see. Because of refraction it can be damn near 360 degrees. It sure looks like they can see behind them.

    • Toby,

      I have not seen that but I will have to check it out. Do you agree that trout can see better forward than backwards? I also think it is good that you mentioned it MAY or may not be what trout actually see.

      My point in the post is that a lot of novice anglers miss hook ups because they are not getting their flies far enough upstream and ahead of trout to either allow the trout to see the offering or give enough time for nymphs to sink down in the strike zone. In this situation presenting your flies short and behind the trout will consistently not provide hookups.

      Thanks for your comment and following the blog. I will watch the video and get back to you.


      • I’m not sure they see “better” in the forward position but they sure as hell expect a drift to come from that direction.

        Saw Oz give a demonstration at the Somerset NJ show and had to ask him, given a situation where a trout is lying (behind a rock etc…) has he seen a trout peel backwards from a streamer or something drop in behind him. His response was most defiantly.

        But in general i agree with the article. Just don’t rule out some strange occurrence where you should go ahead and drop one in behind them.

  2. Heck long casting to me is just FUN! I practice all the time, that is part of what I love about fishin’ the salt. I have a long ways to go perfecting my cast, but I’ll keep after it. Thanks again Kent

  3. Best practice technique for distance and accuracy (I have literally done this for hours). Take your cat outside and use it as a target. Try to lead them in the direction they are facing. Then give the fly a little twitch to entice a strike if it doesn’t come immediately. Keep moving farther and farther away adding the single and double haul. Fun for everyone involved if you remove the hook. Instead of adding Gink (or Gasoline) use some Cat-Nip.

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