The Errant Cast

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

Why do we do that?

While on our latest fishing trip I brought up a rather interesting subject that I just don’t get.It was windy. Like 20-30mph windy. And to add insult, the wind was blowing right into my casting shoulder. I had just made a shitty backcast and knew that it would only translate into a shitty cast, likely causing the fly to tag me along its way. Even with this thought working through the innards of my mind I still ripped a double hauled cast that Steve Rajeff would be proud of, sending the fly screaming into my back. Shit Damn Piss! Seriously?! The streamer was stuck in the back of my shirt, and as Louis removed it, I posed the question… Why do we do that? We know when we’ve made a crappy backcast, and we know that when we follow through on our forward stroke that it’s going to be a horrible cast, and possibly inflict pain. So why the hell do we still make the damn cast?!

In my entire career, I can’t think of one time I made a jacked-up backcast and then decided to abort it because I knew the outcome would likely be less than desirable.

Instead I just keep on trucking and hope the “chuck n’ duck” will suffice.
I mean, I’ve been brought to my knees from these errant casts. One of the worst occurred on a windy day at a local pond. I was fishing a #2 Clouser Deep Minnow. You know… the one with large, lead eyes and a big stainless steel hook. The wind was blowing right into my right shoulder at a pretty good clip. I made my backcast… Nope, no bueno. As I completed this totally awesome cast, this Clouser proceeded to rip into my right ear on it’s way out to its target, sixty feet away!!! The end result was me on my knees with blood oozing from a gash in my right ear. I half expected my ear to be completely ripped off when I reached up. Not. Fun.

So as we floated the beautiful Lemay River, we laughed about this fly fishing conundrum. We never decided on a clear answer as to why we do this to ourselves. Is it pride? Optimism? Ignorance? Insanity? Who knows…. All I know is that I decided that day that I was going to make a change. If I make a shitty backcast, I’m laying it down!
“Justin, watch your backcast,” our guide, Eduardo, instructs me as the wind picks up.
I begin my next cast, and then start my forward stroke followed up with a wind-smiting haul……

Hmmm… Should’ve laid that one down…

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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13 thoughts on “The Errant Cast

  1. Justin – great article.
    Louis – This picture is the epitome of “a picture is worth a thousand words”…..however, this one is worth infinity plus 1. Nice job, fellers!

  2. I refer to it as “getting greedy”. Whether it’s getting popped in the noggin, hooking your shirt back or hanging up in Rhododendron on a small stream. I start talking to myself, “Doug, don’t get greedy with this cast”.

  3. Well .. I must say I did learn my lesson, as most of us do, the hard way. But, it only took me ‘one good thumpin’.

    A #6 Woolly Bugger, heavily weighted, sent aloft in the standard “chuck’n’duck” aerial sortie; in which I really knew – as you said so well – I should have ‘chucked’, but instead deceived myself into believing I could ‘duck’ fast enough; proved me – bruised me – bloodied me – and taught me:

    The ‘chuck portion’ of that old grizzled moniker – is really meant to be a ‘WARNING’ and not a description.

    So, from that point forward, I monitor, those casts – when casting big and/or heavy flies – which contain OOPS (Objects Of Projectile Stupidity) in the loops. At the first inkling of trouble, I engage the ‘chuck-the-cast-drop’ as soon as the OOPS sensor fires.

    I also give an audible, “OOPS!” when this happens. It’s done more as a conditioning response – for me – than a warning for anyone around. But it does have a similar effect as ‘FORE!’ being screamed on a golf course. It generally scares the crap out of folks in earshot … and folks begin giving me a wide berth.

    I have since found this to be a most effective tool, as well. After a couple of ‘OOPS’ incidents, I find that I enjoy fishing in a vastly more ‘people-free-zone’. Yes, the OOPS incidents are a bit rough on stream socializing. But, that’s OK, I go fishing to communicate with fish. Not so much with other humans.

    That’s what tailgates ‘n pubs are for, is it not?

    The fish don’t really seem to mind the OOPS incidents. But I’m not quite sure. I have not had much feedback yet. I plan to investigate this question thoroughly the next time I -if ever!- catch one [a fish]. I’ll try to find out why they avoid me so.

    In the meantime, ‘OOPS!’ … “; )

  4. I do it because I would rather deal with getting it out of me, my shirt or my ear than the hassle of the mess that seems to happen if I let it just go behind me. ESPECIALLY if there are some branches or weeds. In an open boat or ocean flat I might think differently.

  5. Great post Justin.
    Every N/E coast striper junkie can relate to that.
    Double haulin’ a 500 grain shooting head with a 2/0 clouser on the end can generate incredible line speed and power. Mix it up with some wind and a boiling surf you have a recipe for disaster.

    …and Les B…. The last thing out of my mouth before impact aint OOPS!

  6. It’s only funny when it happens to you! A friend of mine gave me some 3/8″ dumb-bells to tie heavy clousers. I was very, effin leary about these, but he said he wasn’t scared to cast them. So, I made up the clousers first cast my back cast went about 40 ft, I remember getting a little burn on my fingers when I stopped the back line to prepare for the haul forward. First time that ever happened. I heard that special sound as the fly dunked into the water behind me. Okie dokie, here goes and gave a sharp pull down and cast forward. I can still remember hearing a deep wurring noise from behind and ducked my head as best I could when WUMP, the lead eyes hit me in the back of the head. AAARG, man that hurt! Three things, it was a good thing I was wearing a heavy wool beannie or I could have given my self a concussion. Second, good thing I ducked my head or I might have taken out my brain stem. Finally, If I hear the fly hitting the water like that, I just let it fall and pick it up like I’m supposed to. Tom, my friend laughed and said he meant he wasn’t scared to cast it with a casting rod. Yeah, right….

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