The Bow Clock

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By Louis Cahill

If you can’t communicate with your guide, you’re fishing blind.

Communication is the key to successful saltwater fly fishing. Flats fishing with a guide is a team sport, and like all team sports, The team must work together to win. Your guide has a couple of big advantages, when it comes to spotting fish. He has keen eyes, years of experience and an elevated position on the platform. More times that not, he will see fish long before you do.

Once he has found the fish, it’s his job to help you find them. Your odds of making the right presentation go way up when you can see the fish, so the two of you need to be speaking the same language. Poor communication means missed opportunities.

To help you find fish, your guide will use a system called the Bow Clock. He should give you 3 pieces of information. A Bow Clock time, which tells you in what direction to look. A distance, which tells you how far to look. And the direction the fish is moving– left, right, toward or away. These 3 coordinates should tell you everything you need to know to find the fish and make the shot.

Keep in mind that things look very different from the platform than they do from the bow. What looks like 40 feet to you may look like 30 to your guide. Don’t stare a hole in the water where you think the fish is. Scan the surrounding water for movement and color changes. Point your rod so your guide knows where you’re looking, and can direct you. If he skips one of the 3 pieces of information, ask. “Moving which direction?”

When everyone is on the same page the system works great. Watch this video for more information and to see exactly how it works.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “The Bow Clock

  1. Pingback: Three Good Articles - Video Edition | Articles from Other Websites

  2. If you are fishing with a guide that is new to you it is important that the two of you get on the same page. Before fishing make a couple
    cast. One at 40feet, then make your best cast into the wind. This will solve two points. Ask the guide how far the cast was. It will tell you if your 40ft is the same as his 40ft. Second point is the guide will know what he has work with. He now knows the distance he has to get you within to catch that fish.

  3. I know this is nuts but, I am on my 10 th trip on the Florida keys flats mostly in pursuit of Tarpon and Bones. In the heat of the moment my little brain plays games with my internal clock. I get responses like the other 10. I am freaking out about my inability to quickly look where he is telling me to look. My question is what can I do to practice this and get past this. I am 63 years old and know the damn clock face. I can practice my casting and accuracy but the clock is killing me.

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