Why Aren’t We Talking More About Angler Positioning?

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Why aren’t we talking about Angler Positioning? Photo By: Louis Cahill

Countless fly fishing articles have been written about matching the hatch, setting up your rig correctly for the water your fishing, and how to cast tight loops.

It’s very true these are all areas in your fly fishing game you should always have covered, but what about angler positioning? Why aren’t we talking more about how important angler positioning is for fly fishing success. Have you ever wondered why there are trout fishermen out there that can’t cast forty feet, yet when they’re on the water fishing, they literally mop up every fish like a vacuum. There’s a simple reason for this folks. Great fisherman, that suck at fly casting, usually figure out really quick how important angler positioning is for ensuring they get presentations that produce hookups.

Listen up all you competition casters out there. I’m happy you can reach the far end of the casting pond with your fly. It’s not easy shooting fifteen feet of backing out the end of your fly rod. That’s impressive, but if that’s how you choose to spend your time trout fishing, you’re probably going to catch few fish. Oh, and remember that guy that you just laughed off the casting pond with his pathetic forty foot cast? He’s going to out fish you nine times out of ten, because he’s figured out, presentation trumps distance casting.

Forgive me if I came across a little tart there. Sometimes it’s helpful for driving the point home with my target audience. The fact is, I consistently find fly fishermen of all skill levels struggling with angler positioning. Most have problems determining where they should position themselves when they first approach a stretch of water. The problem lies with them not first thinking about where they need to be standing, so they can make their best cast and presentation. Instead, they’re thinking, “I”m not going to waist my time wading upstream, if I can reach that spot with my fly where I”m standing right here”. This usually doesn’t pan out very well for them. Two scenarios usually play out with this fishing approach. The first scenario has the angler landing the fly short, right on top of the pod of fish, very often resulting in alerting or spooking the fish. The second scenario, the angler does manage to get the fly where it needs to be, but because they’ve chosen to stand in the wrong spot, they have conflicting currents that compromises their drag free drift. In both cases, anglers that ignore the importance of angler position, remain fish-less.

Below are 3 tips for better angler positioning.

1. Examine your fishing spot and determine where the best stretch of water, or honey hole is located.

Once you’ve figured out where the honey hole is, and where the trout should be stationed, you should position yourself perpendicularly across from it. Sometimes slightly downstream of perpendicular is best. Doing this, you’ll be able to present your flies upstream of the fish, and you’ll be in good position for line management, resulting in and a drag-free drift through the entire stretch of prime water.

2. Try to position yourself when possible in the same current speed you’ll be fishing.

Conflicting currents of different speeds can jeopardize your presentation and drift. I see anglers all the time standing in fast water casting upstream into slower water. With the majority of their fly line landing in faster water than the leader and fly, it ends up putting drag on the fly shortly after their drift begins. They basically lose their natural drift before they reach the productive water. By moving upstream a few steps where the water flows are more consistent, they’ll end up getting a much longer drag-free drift.

3. Ask the Question, Am I confident I can get a good presentation from where I’m standing?

I know this sounds simple but it’s an issue I see all the time. It pays to be honest with ourselves on the water. Let’s face it, sometimes we’re only going to get one or two casts before that big educated trout catches on we’re trying to catch him. So get into position where you know you can make the first cast count right off the bat, and you’ll be giving yourself the best odds at hooking up with that trophy. It can be as simple as taking a step or two out from the bank to give you enough room to make the cast.

A client reaps the rewards for paying attention to angler positioning. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
 
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19 thoughts on “Why Aren’t We Talking More About Angler Positioning?

  1. “Listen up all you competition casters out there. I’m happy you can reach the far end of the casting pond with your fly. It’s not easy shooting fifteen feet of backing out the end of your fly rod. That’s impressive, but if that’s how you choose to spend your time trout fishing, you’re probably going to catch few fish. Oh, and remember that guy that you just laughed off the casting pond with his pathetic forty foot cast? He’s going to out fish you nine times out of ten, because he’s figured out, presentation trumps distance casting.”

    This! X2!

  2. Id rather a fattie brown bending my rod any day than a beautiful loop landing 70 ft away……rivers in GA just arent that big. It 10 times more important to be able to roll cast and whatever other funky casts that are needed to be made to keep your flies out of the trees. Save the long casts for 8wts and flats.

  3. Kent,
    I appreciate all the mentoring you have provided to me on this topic. It really paid off on the last trip with you at NCF.
    Jeff Loftin of Rocking L Fly Fishing also works with me on this when I fish up on the South Holston River. Thanks to his coaching – I had a hook-up with a 30+ inch hen – I didn’t land her, but what a memory. I was shaking so bad afterwards, I had to sit on the bank for a few minutes. Talk about a rush!!!

    • Carolyne,

      Whats up girl!!? Man, I would have loved to see you holding a 30″ beast. Thanks for chiming in on the subject. You fished awesome last time we hit the water. Looks like I’m going to have to get in touch with your guide on the Soho.

      Kent

  4. I wade for tailing redfish in the marshes around Savannah. Positioning yourself to make the first cast count is the most important element in finding success. Moving in such a way to intercept the moving fish, getting yourself within a comfortable casting range, and having the proper angle to the fish is all important. It allows multiple casts to the same fish at times.
    Thank you for highlighting this important topic.

    • Capt. Robert,

      Maybe you should have wrote that post. You covered it very elequently. It’s great yo hear from a saltwater angler. Before anyone starts, saltwater does require long accurate casts at times. Good to hear from you man.

      Kent

  5. Great topic!! See the water, find the angle and make the cast. The right position or angle on the water will ultimately allow you make that not so perfect cast. From now on I’ll make the statement, “I’m just positioning myself” when I make a bad cast. As if I ever would do such a thing. I’m still waiting for the day Ryan breaks out the video from our first redfish trip to FLA. I pile casted into the middle of a school of about 200 reds (I thought there we only a couple) and it looked like someone dropped a refrigerator from a helicopter into the flat calm water. Will never live that down, but I did catch a sea trout with that cast 🙂

  6. Hey Kent

    So how did this article show up a week ago on the NGTO site? Must be some insiders ha! Thanks as usual for all your great tips, advice, and colorful stories guys!

    Wayne

      • oh yea I’m not going anywhere, I did get in a little hot water once, mixing you up w/another young guide on that site w/a similar biz name. Did you happen to see that? I felt bad and imediately deleted my post and apologized.

  7. Amen brother! I fish small PA creeks almost exclusively, at least near home. On the Pocono creeks I fish as well as Valley Creek (near/in Valley Forge National Park) the wild fish are spooky as hell. I put Valley’s wild browns up against any in the country in that regard. Plus, it’s tight quarters and shallow, clear water. So it’s ALL ABOUT THE ANGLE. Before I learned to effectively play them and really take care in my approach I caught virtually nothing.

    • Tyler,

      It sounds very much luke one of my home sprung creek wild trout water. Positioning isn’t just for casting, its also important for landing fish and staying under the radar. Many overlook that. Glad you liked the post. Sounds like you’re a talented fly fisherman. Thanks for comment and following the blog.

      Kent

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