Swing For The Fence On Every Cast

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Staying on Task Has Its Rewards Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

After four days swinging flies in dirty water without a pull it’s easy to lose faith.

I faced some pretty tough conditions on a recent trip to the Dean River in British Columbia. Heavy rain turned the river into a raging mess of mud and floating trees. It was not a pretty sight, but I turned it around.

High water tactics can be laborious. Fishing long heavy sink tips and weighted flies makes casting a chore and swinging your fly a downright pain in the ass. You have to put the fly where the fish are and in high water they are hunkered down on structure or hugging the bank. Getting down to submerged structure in fast water means weight and lots of it. That means lots of hanging up on the rocks, especially at the end of your swing.

After four days with no action and hanging your fly up on every cast it’s easy to start avoiding the water that you know is going to give you trouble. Little things like picking up your fly just before it reaches the end of its swing or not giving that sink tip quite as long to sink makes robotic fishing easier on your nerves. The problem is, it doesn’t catch fish.

The worst is when, after days of toil without a fish, you snag that rock and immediately throw your line over it only to see it turn and bolt downstream without your fly in its mouth. We’ve all done it. I learned long ago that big fish often eat like rocks. I always hold pressure on a rock for a few seconds at least. It’s paid off many times and it paid off again in BC.

After four days of fishing and clearing ten thousand snags, when my fly stopped I held on, maybe ten seconds, before a beautiful bright steelhead gave me a sign of life. Ten seconds feels like an eternity at the end of four days but it’s like Lou Reed says, “You need a bus load of faith to get by.”

Kent calls it fishing with confidence. Faith or confidence, either way a good fisherman always believes in his heart that, this is the cast. Eventually he’s right. My numbers were dramatically above average for the week on the Dean and I believe it’s because of faith. Because I fished every cast as if I knew it would end in an eat.

Weather you’re swinging flies on a steelhead river, nymphing for trout or throwing to laid up tarpon you have to fish like you mean it every single cast. Especially when the fishing is tough. Like my week on the Dean, you may only get a couple of chances. You can’t afford to waste one.

Don’t phone it in. Stay on task, fish the tough water, set on every rock. I landed four fish on the Dean that week. I unbuttoned one and lost one to knot failure but I didn’t miss a single eat and that’s what it’s about. When conditions are tough you have to maximize your opportunities. When you hang up on that rock, remind yourself that you’re doing the right thing. Fish hard, keep the faith and catch more fish.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Swing For The Fence On Every Cast

  1. Of all the cash we will spend to catch a fish the biggest element is free. Years ago on one of those frustrating days my friend Rodney put it quite simply. Just as I was about to cast he ask “are you going to catch one this cast?” I responded with “probably not!” Rodney “Then why don’t you just stand there until you are.” Now if you see me on the deck of my bass boat you may see me checking my line, checking my knot or checking my drag but if I look like I’m just standing there staring a hole in the water, I am checking my attitude.

  2. Pingback: Swing For The Fence On Every Cast | Gink and Gasoline, The Blog … | Fishing Tips For Trout

  3. Faith is often hard to come by especially when you are on an expensive trip and conditions are not ideal. And even more so when you bring your significant other and she’s loosing faith. I always put her in the prime water and follow behind her this way she gets first shot at any fish. Once she gets into one or two then I can relax.

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