The Practical Fly Fisher
272 pages
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272 pages
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Description

Sprinkled in between the fly dressings and tying lessons—and alongside his own personal anecdotes—longtime fishing guide Doug Stewart shares insights and instructions that will add to your fishing success in this illustrated guide.  

The Practical Fly Fisher will help you become a more complete angler, a better fly tier, and a more successful fly fisher. On top of covering all aspects of fly fishing: casting, proper equipment, tying flies, reading water, the feeding habits of fish, and the proper strategy for fishing a stretch of river, included inside in the book are the secrets of Doug’s favorite patterns.

Doug Stewart, a lifelong fly fisher, is also a fly-tying instructor, guide and a fly shop owner. He has written about fly-fishing for The Oregon Sportsman and Amato Publications. Doug spent many years teaching customers how to fly fish during the thirty-two years he owned Stewart’s Fly Shop. “I think I get more out of teaching someone, out of seeing them be successful or catch their first fish, than I do out of catching my own,” Doug says.


Fly rods have undergone a slow transition since the fifteenth Century when they were as long as 18 feet made from a variety of trees, such as willow, blackthorn, and ash. Improvements in rods saw little change in the sixteenth century, although shorter rods were being experimented with. The eighteenth century saw the introduction of jointed rods that utilized wood and brass connections, which opened the door for modern day ferrule construction. At the turn of the nineteenth century, master rod crafters began to produce the six-sided split-bamboo rods, and for the next fifty-years, cane rods were the heart and soul of fly casting pleasure. In the 1940s, durable, less-expensive tubular glass rods began their reign, which lasted into the early 1970s, when production of the first graphite rods revolutionized the industry because of their lightweight, rigidity, sensitivity, and power. Many of the early graphite rods had a tendency to break, due to their thin wall diameters or ferrule construction—characteristics that contributed to fractures when the rods were bent past the critical arc when playing fish or jerked to free snag and incidental hook checks.
Today bamboo rods are making a modest comeback as new and talented rod crafters are reviving the tradition of the masters. This resurgence is occurring for several reasons. First, a well-made bamboo rod is a beautiful work of art that has delicate grains, an exquisite finish, subtle thread wraps, wooden reel seats, and polished metal ferrules and guides that all complement the intrinsic beauty of the rod. Second, they are very strong and have a resilient casting performance that can last for hundreds of years. Third, because of their slower action, they are more pleasurable to cast, deliver delicate presentations, and enable the angler to play and land fish with a higher degree of success. This final point can be easily explained in the following diagram, but keep in mind that rods can have various tapers and actions, so this is only a general theory to illustrate the concept of a rod’s weight stress at the point of impact.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORD
INTRODUCTION
PART I MASTERING THE TECHNIQUES
Equipment‑Rods, Leaders, Fly Lines and Reels
Fly Casting‑The Grip, The Basic Cast, Push and Pull Method and Cures, Mending the Line and Special Casts.
PART II METHODS FOR TYING AND FISHING WET FLIES
Historical Pioneers of Fly Fishing.
Basic Wet Fly Instructions for tying a Leadwing Coachman, Soft Hackles and Methods of Wet Fly Fishing: The Wet Fly Swing, Upstream Dead Drifting,
Downstream Long‑Lining, Subsurface Swing, Upstream Retrieve and The Cross‑Stream Strip.
Winter Steelhead Methods‑Migration, Holding Waters, Lines, Flies and Leaders
Summer Steelhead Methods‑Greased Line, Wet Fly Swing, Dead Drifting, Spotting Fish, Leaders, Water Types and High Sticking.
Tying Streamers and Steelhead Flies‑The Supervisor and Nick’s Nightmare.
PART III METHODS FOR TYING AND FISHING NYMPHS
Historical Pioneers of Fly Fishing.
Methods‑G.E.M Skues, Sawyer, Teeny, Chuck and Duck, Brooks, Leisenring Lift and Walking the Fly.
Tying Nymphs: Casual Dress, Bitch Creek, Teeny Nymph and Brooks Stone.
PART IV METHODS FOR TYING AND FISHING DRY FLIES
Historical Pioneers of Fly Fishing.
Methods‑Dapping the Fly, Recognizing Surface and Subsurface Activity.
Feeding Habits: Rises, Refusals, Selectivity, Masking Hatches, Non‑rising Fish and Setting the Hook.
Tying Dry Flies: The Professor, Green Sedge and Royal Coachman.
PART V STREAM ANATOMY, WEATHER, SENSES OF FISH AND ENTOMOLOGY
Riffles, Glides, Pocket Water and Pools
Wing, Rain, Barometer, High and Low Water, Hot Weather, Sun and Shadows.
How Fish See and Perceive Color, The Sense of Smell, The Sense of Hearing, The Sense of Taste and Feel.
Entomology: Matching Hatches, Collecting Equipment, Stream Diary and Insect
Identification.
PART VI SPECIAL METHODS
History of the Pott Fly.
Tools and the method to tie the Pott Fly.
Practical Fishing Knots.
Dropper Knots and How to Tie them.
Wading Safely.
Playing, Landing and Releasing Fish.
PART V11 FABULOUS FLIES AND FABLES
Twenty‑four Proven Patterns and Selective Stories.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Sujets

Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 18 février 2014
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780871083135
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,1000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Exrait

T HE P RACTICAL F LY F ISHER
Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Fly Fishing
T HE P RACTICAL F LY F ISHER
Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Fly Fishing
DOUG STEWART
THE PRUETT SERIES
Text and illustrations 2014 by Doug Stewart
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Stewart, Doug, 1939-.
The practical fly fisher : lessons learned from a lifetime of fly fishing / Doug Stewart.
pages cm. - (The Pruett series)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-87108-309-8 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-87108-313-5 (e-book)
ISBN 978-0-87108-314-2 (hardbound)
1. Fly fishing. 2. Flies, Artificial. I. Title.
SH456.S81 2014
799.12 4-dc23
2013041159
Design by Vicki Knapton
Published by WestWinds Press
An imprint of

P.O. Box 56118
Portland, Oregon 97238-6118
503-254-5591
www.graphicartsbooks.com
This book is dedicated to my wife, Marsha, for her tireless and
invaluable efforts in editing this work, and to all the friends
with whom I have fished and shared my knowledge and love
of fly fishing and who have shared theirs with me.
CONTENTS
F OREWORD
I NTRODUCTION
PART I: MASTERING THE TECHNIQUES
EQUIPMENT
R ODS
L EADERS
F LY L INES
R EELS
FLY CASTING
T HE G RIP
T HE B ASIC C AST
P USH AND P ULL M ETHOD
Y OUR F IRST C AST
C ASTING P ROBLEMS AND C URES
C ASTING T IPS
M ENDING THE L INE
C ONTROLLING THE L INE
F ALSE C ASTING
T HE S INGLE H AUL
F IGURE -8 R ETRIEVE
T HE F ORWARD C AST
T HE R OLL C AST
T HE D OUBLE H AUL
H OW TO M END
SPECIAL CASTS
D OWNSTREAM S-C ASTS
T UCK OR P ARACHUTE C AST
T HE R EACH C AST
T HE P OSITIVE C URVE C AST
T HE B ACKHAND C AST
T HE F INAL C AST
PART II: METHODS FOR TYING AND FISHING WET FLIES
BASIC WET FLY INSTRUCTIONS
T YING THE L EADWING C OACHMAN
SOFT HACKLES
S PIDERS
I NSTRUCTIONS FOR T YING S OFT H ACKLES
M ETHODS
STREAMERS
M ETHODS
S TEELHEAD
M ETHODS FOR S UMMER S TEELHEAD
W INTER S TEELHEAD
M ETHODS FOR W INTER S TEELHEAD
TYING STREAMERS
I NSTRUCTIONS FOR T YING THE S UPERVISOR
T YING S TEELHEAD F LIES
PART III: METHODS FOR TYING AND FISHING NYMPHS
METHODS
INSTRUCTIONS FOR TYING NYMPHS
T HE C ASUAL D RESS
T HE B ITCH C REEK
T HE T EENY N YMPH
T HE B ROOKS S TONE
PART IV: METHODS FOR TYING AND FISHING DRY FLIES
METHODS
FEEDING HABITS
R ISE T YPES
R EFUSALS
S ELECTIVE F EEDING
M ASKING THE H ATCH
N ONRISING F ISH
S ETTING THE H OOK
TYING DRY FLY WINGS
T HE P ROFESSOR
G REEN S EDGE
R OYAL C OACHMAN

PART V: STREAM ANATOMY, WEATHER, SENSES OF FISH, AND ENTOMOLOGY
READING WATER
R IFFLES
G LIDES
P OCKET W ATER
P OOLS
STREAM STRATEGIES
W IND
R AIN AND B AROMETRIC P RESSURE
H IGH AND L OW W ATER
H OT W EATHER
S UN AND S HADOWS
HOW FISH SEE
H OW F ISH P ERCEIVE C OLOR
T HE S ENSE OF S MELL
T HE S ENSE OF H EARING
T HE S ENSES OF T ASTE AND F EEL
ENTOMOLOGY
M ATCHING H ATCHES
C OLLECTING E QUIPMENT
I NSECT I DENTIFICATION
PART VI: SPECIAL METHODS
TYING THE POTT FLY
PRACTICAL FISHING KNOTS
DROPPERS
WADING SAFELY
PLAYING, LANDING, AND RELEASING FISH
PART VII: FABULOUS FLIES AND FABLES
THE MAX CANYON
THE DARK MAX
THE STEWART
KUBITZ SPECIAL
DEL COOPER
KALAMA SPECIAL
ALASKAN BUG EYE
THE ILLUSION
THE KARLUK SPECIAL
MICKEY FINN
DARK SPRUCE
THE MUSKRAT
THE SPARK PLUG
THE STEWART CADDIS
THE MUDDLER MINNOW
THE BUCKTAIL COACHMAN
MARK S BRINDLE BUGGER
DARK CADDIS
THE BLACK O LINDSAY
HUFF LAKE SHRIMP
NATION S GREEN SEDGE
CLARK S HEX POPPER
WOOLLY WORM
OCHOCO SPECIAL
B IBLIOGRAPHY
I NDEX
FOREWORD
Doug Stewart is an educator who has always been willing to share his knowledge and experiences-and this book, his fourth, does just that. It conveys Doug s vast knowledge about fly fishing, fly tying, and all of the nuances that are required to become a successful fly fisher.
I have been fortunate through the years to have been the recipient of much of Doug s expertise. In the mid-1970s, when he opened his fly shop in East Portland, he began inviting me to accompany him on trips to the Deschutes River for steelhead. I had found some good steelhead water on my own, especially in the lower part of the river around Free Bridge, but Doug opened up the Mack s Canyon area for me. He openly shared all of his favorite spots. There was a two-mile stretch of river that contained one good steelhead drift after another. I believe that until the big floods of 1996 and 1997 this could have been the most productive area for steelhead of any in North America. Doug shared not only spots to fish, but also methods for hooking steelhead, such as his theory on using two flies. He also shared fly patterns and tying methods that made me a better steelhead angler.
What will become apparent as you delve into his new book is that its purpose is to help you become a more complete angler, a better fly tier, and a more successful fly fisher. It covers all aspects of fly fishing: casting, proper equipment, tying flies, reading water, the feeding habits of fish, and the proper strategy for fishing a stretch of river. Also included in the book are traditional and historical flies along with a selection of Doug s favorite patterns. Dressings and instructions are also presented.
Sprinkled in between the fly dressings and tying lessons are Doug s personal stories and anecdotes. These are interesting and informative-each one containing an element of knowledge or instruction that will add to your fishing success. Read The Practical Fly Fisher , and you ll discover that it s a joy to learn from Doug- just like I did.
- M ARTY S HERMAN ,
Portland, Oregon
INTRODUCTION
Little is known about the early writing and technologies before the fifteenth century, but in the ensuing 500 years this all began to change with the appearance of new books and the dramatic evolution of flies and equipment. The traditional lore of any sport is highly relevant to our pursuit of success, and without the masters before us our achievements might still be in a stage of infancy. Fly fishing is no exception.
Unfortunately, many anglers today take a lot for granted. They seem to bask in the prestigious traditions of fly fishing without much regard to the evolution and achievements that have advanced the sport to where it is today. In order to revive our tradition we must take time to read and study the teachings of our talented mentors, and in doing so, we ll realize why their contributions made fly tying and fly fishing such a creative and enjoyable art.
Of all the hobbies that I ve endeavored to master, fly tying has been the most challenging and rewarding. My interest was sparked more than fifty years ago when my dad showed me how to tie one of his favorite patterns, the Professor. Although my dad was very knowledgeable about fly fishing and fly tying, he was admittedly not a very good instructor. In brief matter of fact terms he would say, Doug, I m only going to show you how to do this one time, so pay attention! I would then quickly make a sketch and practice tying the fly two or three times so I wouldn t forget it. Eventually, I learned the rudiments of fly tying, but my flies were not models of perfection. My friend Bob Wiley was a good fly fisherman and gave me some basic fly-tying instructions, and with the help of George Herter s Professional Fly Tying and Tackle Making Manual , I was able to tie respectable flies within a few years.

These early interests eventually prompted me to open a fly-fishing shop in 1976, and there I continued to expand my interests by teaching fly tying and fly fishing, and reading many related books both new and old. Eventually, I learned how to recognize and tie many patterns. I also used other sources to build a backlog of information on the history of flies. For instance, if I were in a coffee shop talking with a fellow fly fisher, I would always use a napkin to roughly sketch the fly that he used and scribble its proper name. Interestingly, Lee Wulff, one of the country s bestknown fly innovators, mentioned a similar experience when he commented, As an artist I can make a sketch that will identify any bug I want to talk about, and that has been a great help in some intense lunch-table conversations on flies and techniques.
In my fly shop, day-to-day conversations with customers led to many new patterns that I tied and added to my collection. Also, tying special or custom flies each year further added new patterns and expanded my fly-tying vocabulary. On the river, if I observed another fly fisher having better success than I was, I would ask if I could see his pattern. Most of the time, the angler not only showed me the fly, but also doled out a few patterns for me to try. In turn, I always extended the same courtesy to others, and eventually these chance meetings resulted in new friendships. Sharing patterns, ideas, and experiences are the cornerstones of becoming a successful fly fisher, and learning more about our heritage gives us more incentive to pass it on to others.
The major thrust of this book is by no means completely about my personal preference for traditional patterns. A major portion of the book offers fly-tying instructions for all levels of abilities with a specific chapter on special methods that will challenge tiers who have mastered the art. Techniques are shown for tying and fishing wet flies, nymphs, dry flies, soft hackles, spiders, streamers, and bucktails. Also, special chapters on equipment, fly casting, reading water, stream strategies, and entomology are included to improve your streamside savvy and success. In addition, special methods are featured that cover knot tying, dropper knots, wading safety and playing, and landing and releasing fish. The last chapter includes twenty-four tying sequences with interesting stories about their developments.

This book was written in part to revive some of the early traditions of fly tying by featuring many flies and fly fishers from the past. These older patterns can offer additional options to use when your favorite pattern is not productive, and you may be pleasantly surprised to discover how effective the older patterns can be. To further encourage you to learn more about our fly-fishing heritage, here is a quote from Paul Schullery s book The Elements of Fly Fishing : So, once in a while, look back from where you are fishing now. Read the old books, not just for advice but for their poetry and wisdom. Seek out the old catalogs. Talk to the old-timers. Fish with the old flies. See how it was, and you will enjoy how it is even more.
I hope that The Practical Fly Fisher will help you learn more about fly fishing and fly tying, and ultimately, make you a more confident and successful fly fisher. Also, be open to sharing your knowledge and favorite patterns with others, and remember that matching hatches with your own creations are precious times that create lasting memories.

A still life in oils of the author s fly-fishing memorabilia, painted by his mother-in-law, Virginia Turner. Photo by Viriginia Turner .
PART I
M ASTERING THE T ECHNIQUES
The man who coined the phrase, Money can t buy happiness never bought himself a really good fly rod.
-Reg Baird



EQUIPMENT
R ODS
Fly rods have undergone a slow transition since the fifteenth century when they were as long as 18 feet and made from a variety of trees, such as willow, blackthorn, and ash. Improvements in rods saw little change in the sixteenth century, although shorter rods were being experimented with. The eighteenth century saw the introduction of jointed rods that utilized wood and brass connections, which opened the door for modern day ferrule construction. At the turn of the nineteenth century, master rod crafters began to produce the six-sided split-bamboo rods, and for the next fifty years, cane rods were the heart and soul of fly casting pleasure. In the 1940s, durable, less-expensive tubular glass rods began their reign, which lasted into the early 1970s, when production of the first graphite rods revolutionized the industry because of their light weight, rigidity, sensitivity, and power. Many of the early graphite rods had a tendency to break, due to their thin wall diameters or ferrule construction-characteristics that contributed to fractures when the rods were bent past the critical arc when playing fish or jerked to free a snag and incidental hook checks.
Today bamboo rods are making a modest comeback as new and talented rod crafters are reviving the tradition of the masters. This resurgence is occurring for several reasons. First, a well-made bamboo rod is a beautiful work of art that has delicate grains, an exquisite finish, subtle thread wraps, wooden reel seats, and polished metal ferrules and guides that all complement the intrinsic beauty of the rod. Second, they are very strong and have a resilient casting performance that can last for hundreds of years. Third, because of their slower action, they are more pleasurable to cast, deliver delicate presentations, and enable the angler to play and land fish with a higher degree of success. This final point can be easily explained in the above diagram, but keep in mind that rods can have various tapers and actions, so this is only a general theory to illustrate the concept of a rod s weight stress at the point of impact.


To test this theory, begin by selecting a bamboo, glass, and graphite rod with equal lengths, line weights, and tapers. Then, attach a 7 -foot, 3-pound leader of each rod to a scale, and in turn, flex each rod to its maximum parabolic arc. This will represent the weight of a fish pulling against the rod. The readings will show that the weight stresses will differ with each rod, and that the stress on the bamboo rod will be considerably less than that of the glass and graphite, thus granting the potential for a higher catch ratio. Landing the fish, of course, depends on an angler s degree of experience and ability, but all things being equal, the novice will also realize better success with bamboo. After forty years of fishing bamboo, my experience has confirmed that, on average, I land 75 percent of the trout I hook and more than 60 percent of the steelhead, whereas with graphite and stiffer glass rods this percentage has been less.
The main drawback of bamboo is the price, which may exceed $2,000, but compared to the 1940s the price is commensurate with the rate of inflation. For example, in the 1940s, when the price of a loaf of bread was less that 10 cents, my dad bought an 8-weight Heddon rod, HDH (double-taper 5-weight line) for $45. Interestingly, one can still find and purchase some older quality bamboo rods at prices that are affordable and within the price range of graphite rods, say $200 to $400.
In the past twenty-five years, graphite fly rods have graduated into a series of generations, and with each stage, improvements have been made in designs with all types of models, weights, tapers, and actions. The manufacturers advertise that these technological advancements have improved a fly rod s performance in sensitivity, lightness, power, distance, flawless presentation, and the angler s ultimate success. These arbitrary contentions lead one to believe that the rod itself will correct or improve an angler s techniques and casting abilities, but buyer beware , it s going to cost you a lot more when you buy into these marketing ploys. Before you purchase a new graphite rod, these questions must be answered: If these facts are true, do the improvements justify the cost, and will I experience better success?
I have fished with expensive rods, and can say that it s highly debatable whether or not your abilities will be noticeably enhanced unless you are an accomplished fly caster. Even then, the newest generation of graphite rods will render only minimal improvements. For example, if you can accurately cast sixty to seventy feet, would a rod that increases your distance by five or ten feet give you a considerable advantage? On the other hand, if you re a novice, will the rod magically load up so that you can cast the line effortlessly with pinpoint accuracy?
To be honest, in some cases the space-age rods may create additional problems, since stiffer, faster action rods require quicker reflexes and are not as forgiving as slower actions. This equates into missed fish, poor hookups, and increased break offs. However, if you re willing to pay the price there are some advantages. Their light weight reduces arm fatigue, and they have the power to cast the fly into strong winds with greater leverage. They can also cast farther with more accuracy and are more sensitive to bites and subtle takes than fiberglass or bamboo. Also, I strongly feel that once a fly rod has been refined into a high performance tool, further technology is unnecessary, but the beat goes on and many of the new rods can cost $600 or more. If you consider this, and the fact that many rods are far less expensive but offer similar advantages, it may be more sensible to buy one. In most fly shops today, you can buy a reasonably priced outfit that includes a quality rod, line, and reel for less than $400, and have leftover cash to purchase additional gear. Of course there are exceptions, such as fly fishing for large saltwater tarpon or sailfish. Expensive equipment is mandatory for this type of fishing-lesser equipment simply will not hold up. So, powerful rods, machined reels that are noncorrosive, and specialized lines have to be purchased. However, for most of us fly fishing does not have to be expensive, and anyone can enjoy this pastime without buying equipment that costs an arm and a leg.
When you re ready to select a new rod, be mindful that many medium-priced rods have a high performance rating that s comparable to expensive rods, and they will easily load the rod and deliver smooth and effortless casts. Here are a few guidelines to help you purchase an affordable rod that may satisfy your specific needs.
A. Get recommendations from friends if possible, or do some research and carefully consider the salesman s suggestions.
B. Select a rod that is the right weight and length for the fish that you re after.
C. Cast to see how the rod loads and how responsive it is with your style.
D. Ask the shop owner what the warrantee is and, if you re interested in a complete outfit, don t be afraid to ask for package deals. The bottom line is if it fits your budget, casts well, and feels good, buy it!
The normal length for most trout rods today is 8 to 9 feet, but the size of the stream, the amount of near-hanging limbs, and weather conditions may require different lengths. For example, a light 7- to 7 -foot rod might be used if you re fishing a small, brushy creek, or a heavier 9 - to 10-foot rod for larger streams or lakes, or combating strong winds. The preferred choice for an all-around rod is 8 feet, since it can throw large heavily dressed bucktails, large streamers, weighted nymphs, and small wet flies (sizes 10 through 14), but this may vary with the type of rod and its action.
For casting sinking lines, I prefer rods with slow to medium actions, but for combating wind and casting for distance, I like to use fast-action graphite. Steelhead and salmon naturally require heavier lines and rods in the range of 8 to 10 feet, Spey rods from 10 to 15 feet, and switch rods from 10 to 12 feet for one- or two-hand casting. Bass fishing is effectively done with an 8- to 9-foot standard steelhead rod, and lighter and shorter 6 - to 7 -foot trout rods are more than adequate for panfish.
When using bass bugs, large poppers, and streamers 8 - to 9-foot rods are necessary, since their sizes and weights have more wind resistance. The rod that gives me the most pleasure is the slow, graceful action of a 7 - to 8 -foot, 5-weight bamboo, because it loads the rod and lays the fly out softly. The main drawback of bamboo is that extreme exposure to weather can take its toll on the finish. So to maintain the quality of your expensive or heirloom bamboo rod, use it only in fairweather conditions. Also, there are those anglers who have a penchant for testing their skills, and using 7 - to 8-foot, 1- or 2-weight rods, or the 9-foot, 3-weight ultra light rods can supply ample challenges.
Graphite rods are the preferred choice today because they are more versatile. They are stiffer and more powerful and can cast two and sometimes three different line weights. For instance, some 5-weight fast-action rods will easily handle a double taper 5- or 6-weight line and, depending on the rod manufacturer, it may be able to cast a 7-weight forward line. Select a rod that is balanced to the rod specifications and then, as mentioned previously, test cast it with your lines of choice to determine its performance. The rod should load the line with ease and shoot it through the guides effortlessly. If it takes more than four false casts to accelerate the line forward, it s too light for the rod. If the line feels heavy during the load and overpowers the rod tip, it s too heavy. Technique can also be a problem, so if in doubt, ask a pro to test it for you. More of this is covered in Casting Problems and Cures on page 39 .

To the serious angler, the fly rod is not only a personal treasure but an artistic extension of his abilities, where the pleasure of casting is just as rewarding as catching fish. This can only be fully achieved if your outfit is balanced, which means that during the cast, the rod, reel, line, leader, and fly are in total harmony. Initially, the reel and rod should be balanced and geared for the size of fish you might hook. For instance, a reel that has a strong and positive drag system and a large-arbor spool with great line capacity wouldn t be needed for most trout fishing, and a heavy rod would be overkill on smaller fish.
The line is probably the most critical part of the system because, if not matched perfectly to the rod, sloppy casts and poor presentations are the result. In most cases, the line and weight designations are located on the rod s butt section, so it can be fairly easy to choose the right line, but you must interpret the various types of labeling. For example, Cortland rods are listed as 9 8/9 (9-foot rod for an 8- or 9-weight line), while Sage rods are 490 (9-foot, 4-weight), and Orvis uses 908 (9-foot, 8-weight).
The leader must also be of the right length and taper, and the fly must be balanced to the tippet. Consequently, a size 18 fly wouldn t balance with a large tippet, such as 2X, and a size 4 fly would be too large to make good casts using a small tippet, such as 7X. In either case, the line or fly will splash the water and spook any fish in the near vicinity. If any one of these pieces is out of balance, the entire system will break down, so if you re in doubt, have an experienced fly fisher or a pro shop help you select the proper equipment.
To briefly review, when you re in the market to purchase a quality outfit, don t be lulled into the false assumption that the more expensive rods and reels will greatly enhance your proficiency in casting, ability to fight fish, or improve your ultimate success. Middle-of-the-road equipment will perform extremely well and save you hundreds of dollars to boot. A letter written by Lee Wulff in 1937 and published in the Angler s Club Bulletin confirms this when he states, These great fast fish could be subdued on reasonably priced tackle and that fishing was not reserved for those who can afford a reel that costs as much as an automobile. The reel might be an exception if you re going to use it for large fish such as steelhead, salmon, tarpon, and other types of saltwater fish.
L EADERS
Basically, the leader has three functions. First, it is a transparent extension that tapers from a heavy butt to a lighter tippet; second, it is an important link in the balance and performance of your outfit; and finally, it allows the fly to flow naturally in the current. The most important element of leader performance is its taper. To attain maximum efficiency, the fly line must transfer its power through a graduated leader to the fly. Without this transition, the leader will collapse and disrupt a smooth and effective presentation.
The leader is composed of three sections-the butt section, midsection, and the tippet. The tippet refers to the last section of material that you add to the leader and is where the fly is attached. Inevitably, after the tippet has been shortened you ll need to replace it with a new one. This occurs when you change flies or replace those that have broken off. It s also used to lengthen the store-bought leaders. Also, selecting the proper sized fly for the tippet is a critical element in the line-leader system s final balance. As mentioned previously, fly size must be balanced to the tippet. The diagram below illustrates this point.
Today, leaders are either produced as the factory knotless types or the custom hand-tied variety. The hand-tied variety has more advantages. You can build a specific leader to fit specific conditions, styles of casting, or angling techniques. Also, because they are stiffer, hand-tied leaders will turn over flies better than the softer factory-built variety. And after the initial outlay for spools of tippet (perhaps as many as eight spools), hand-tied leaders are less expensive. The disadvantages are that they require time to build, and when cast into weed beds, pieces of vegetation may adhere to the adjoining knots. With factory leaders, vegetation isn t a problem since there are no knots and purchases usually take little time, but you ll pay more for this convenience.



Fluorocarbon leaders and other lighter diameter leaders are very strong, but their abrasive strength is poor, especially if you nymph fish in freestone streams or are constantly hitting tree branches or rocks on your backcast. However, their performance is very good for dry fly and stillwater fishing.
The chart above shows only a close approximation of the hook sizes. Using the standard tippet designations-1X, 2X, and so on-to determine the right size fly is confusing, and memorizing what size fly goes with what diameter tippet seems to be the only way to make a correlation. But fortunately there is an easier way. Consider the X factor as a multiplication symbol and multiply any tippet size by three to arrive at a fly size. For example, 6X tippet times 3 equates to a size 18 fly, and 2X tippet times 3 equals a size 6 fly. Beyond the zero, you ll have to rely on the pound test recommendation for heavier tippets. However, a negative sign can be applied to satisfy this need, such as -0X, -1X, -3X, and so on.


If you are interested in building your own leaders, there are numerous formulas available. I ve tried a number of them, but the Charles Ritz formula is the one that I believe is the easiest and most reliable. The chart above shows how to build a 7 -foot leader.
To begin, divide the leader into three sections using the formula of 60 percent butt section, 20 percent midsection, and 20 percent tippet. Let s begin with a leader we might use for steelhead, one that is 7 feet long, which is 90 inches. Sixty percent of the 90 inches is 54 inches (.6 x 90=54), and 20 percent is 18 inches (.2 x 90=18). So you have a 54-inch butt section, an 18-inch midsection, and an 18-inch tippet. The butt section will have two 27-inch sections, the midsection will have two 9-inch sections, and the tippet will remain at 18 inches. Each section will need to be slightly larger than the section that follows. The steady taper helps transfer power from your rod to the fly.
Before you start to cut and connect each section, it s a good idea to measure out each section on a flat surface, and then select the diameters for each section. Next, cut each section 1 inch longer than the actual measurement, so when they re tied together, both sections will be shortened and closer to the original measurements. For a steelhead leader, use material in the diameters of .021 or .024 (20- pound), .017 (15-pound), .012 (12-pound), .010 (10-pound), and .009 (8-pound.) As we pointed out earlier, the diameters, pound test, and tippet sizes will vary so these are only approximations. Trout leaders are longer, and will usually start with a lighter butt (.018 or .019) and graduate into more sections. When they re tied together, both sections will be shortened and closer to the original measurements. Last, cut the remaining ends off at about 1/32 inch.
With the vast assortment of leaders available, it can be a mystery to find the most reliable, and many brands have varying diameters causing more confusion. The use of a leader gauge will determine their true calibration. Some are stronger or less pliable, some are true tests or over tested, while others have better abrasive strength or are light diameters and so on. Maxima leader material has always been my first choice, because it s rugged, strong, resilient in varied weather conditions, and has a good shelf life in stores. But to simplify the process of random selection, test them on your own until you find the material that works the best for you.
F LY L INES
The evolution of the modern fly line dates back to the fifteenth century when horsehair was twisted to form the line. The early part of the eighteenth century saw the emergence of silk lines, but even though they made a vast improvement over horsehair lines, they absorbed water and wore out quickly. It wasn t until 1949 that synthetic nylon was used to develop a true tapered floating line. Presently, there are so many lines on the market that it can be difficult to select one. Double-taper and weight-forward floating lines, sinking line, floating-sinking or sinking-tip, intermediate, and shooting taper all serve different purposes and have different tapers and grain weights. Level lines have no taper and are used primarily as a running line for shooting heads. Before tapered lines were perfected, level lines were used extensively, but without any taper, casting was limited to short distances. However, they re still applicable on small creeks and irrigation ditches where the line is simply flicked instead of being cast.
When you are just beginning, the double-taper dry line is usually recommended because casting and presentation are easier compared to other lines, plus, after a number of years of use, you can reverse it on your reel, use the other end, and extend the life of your purchase. Each type of line has its own labeling and respective uses, so if you know the type of fishing you are interested in, line selection is fairly basic. Normally three or four lines will suffice for most rivers and lakes. Specialized lines, however, may be required depending on the kind of fish you re after, the type of waters you ll fish, and the flows and structure of rivers. Jim Teeny fly lines fall into this category with the sinking Night Line with a clear 5-foot tip and the Xtreme Distance Series.


For larger waters where distance casts are required, weight-forward lines or shooting heads are required. Shooting heads are either factory extruded or custom spliced and are used primarily for distance casting in large rivers or estuaries. In these situations, large streamers and wet flies are usually used for steelhead, salmon, and other anadromous fish.
Sinking and intermediate lines are mostly used for fishing lakes and moderate flows, or deeper pools in rivers for plying wet flies and streamers. Sinking-tip lines may have 5 to 30 feet of sinking line connected to a floating line and can be used in all water types with a variety of flies. Other lines with special tapers are used for bass and saltwater fishing. In conclusion, remember that although quality lines cost more they will deliver high performance, durability, and flawless presentation, plus the difference in cost is minimal.
Fly-line color may seem arbitrary, but there is steady debate among anglers and scientists as to whether or not fish can see the line. My position regarding this is that fly lines employ transparent leaders, which in most situations extend from six to twelve feet from the line. Therefore, the line s shadow is immaterial and will not be seen as long as you re not lining fish. There is also the contention that a brightly colored line is needed for higher visibility. Personally, I think that during the day, all lines are plainly visible to most anglers, but to understand this better the wavelengths of colors must be considered. The warmer colors of the spectrum consist of various shades of reds, oranges, and yellows with longer wavelengths that reflect more light energy. On the cooler side of the spectrum, shades of blues and greens have shorter wavelengths that reflect less light, and tracking the fly in the evening with dark lines can be difficult. This stands to reason why most manufacturers make and most anglers use lighter-color lines. The color of a sinking line may also be important when considering a fish s vision under water, where color perception is conversely different and because water absorbs light wavelengths. Warmer colors are more visible the deeper they penetrate the water, and cooler colors fade. Since I m a little leery about alarming fish, when I fish deep, I use dark sinking lines. More of this is covered in How Fish Perceive Color, on pages 182.
R EELS
Early fishermen fashioned a notched piece of wood to wrap on some type of line and tossed bait or a feathered lure into the water. When a fish was hooked they wound the line around wood to land the fish. As crude as it looked it was undoubtedly the first fly reel. In the fifteenth century anglers tied braided horsehair line to the tip of 16- to 18-foot rods and dapped artificial flies on the water. By the eighteenth century small brass winches were attached to the rod by a clamp and referred to as clamp-foot reels. Many of the fly reels that followed were simple arbor reels made of brass, and the line was manually stripped off the drum. In the early 1900s, the advent of the multiplying reel allowed anglers to cast line directly from the spool, and a balanced crank handle and the first free-spool reel was developed at about the same time. In the nineteenth century, reels were being imported from England while in America anglers were making their own. Also, before the turn of the century, designing engineers such as Orvis, Von Hofe, and Leonard began to make single-action fly reels. Single action reels rotate the spool at a 1:1 ratio or one turn of the handle equals one turn of the spool.
Today, fly reels are much lighter in their frame construction due to graphite, aluminum, and other materials cast or shaped. Bar stock aluminum is the most popular material. Also, integrated drag systems are more sophisticated, employing the use of discs, offset disc designs, bronze bushings, sealed bearings, and stainless steel and brass gears. Other special features in demand include large arbors as well as anti-reverse designs where the spool turns and the handle does not. Reels that have frames made of high-grade anodized aluminum resist saltwater corrosion, but as a precaution they should be rinsed after use. All of these improvements are significant but have increased the cost of fly reels. As an extreme example, consider the new Hardy Zane Ti saltwater fly reel. It is made from solid bar-stock titanium, which is the strongest metal known to man and is noncorrosive in saltwater. Interestingly, it takes six days to make just one and the cost is around $9,700.
There are three types of fly reels in use today: single-action, multiplying, and automatic. The single action reel is the most popular and has a retrieve ratio of 1:1, which means one turn of the handle equals one turn of the spool. The integral parts are a simple spring and pawl with a noticeable clicking noise. The action is very smooth when the line is pulled and they work well when using lighter tippets. Also, they re reliable, the cost is reasonable, and with proper maintenance they will last for years. Most of these reels are well made and sell for less than $100.

The multiplying reel has a greater retrieve ratio than 1:1. Because of the gear system, one turn of the handle can equal two or more turns of the spool and produces faster retrieves than single action. It is used mostly for large and very fast fish, such as tarpon and has the advantage of quickly retrieving slack line. The main disadvantages are that the gearing system can have some minor glitches. Depending on the frame these reels will sell between $200 and $400.
The disc-drag reels of today are extensively used for large fish. They are more expensive than other reels, but they are very popular and consistently function very well. Their brake systems are similar to car brakes since a pad inside applies pressure to increase braking tension with just the turn of a knob. The disc drags apply smooth and positive pressure to the line to play and control a fish, and most are designed well enough to not seize up. These reels normally cost between $100 and $300, but less expensive models sell for under $100. The difference is whether the frame is die-cast or machined-the die-cast models are less costly.
The size of the fish will determine the type of reel you should use, and several things should be considered when purchasing one. Small trout, for instance, require only a pawl or click drag, and if necessary an exposed rim can be used to palm the reel for extra drag. Depending on the type of rivers you fish, large trout, say more than three pounds, may require a disc drag. As an example, the Deschutes River has a heavy current flow and even a fourteen-inch rainbow of less than two pounds can get into your backing, so a disc drag may be advisable. Larger species such as steelhead, salmon, and saltwater fish make long, powerful runs, and strong disc-drag systems and solid frames are needed to control the fish.
Backing is the final part of your reel assembly. Its purpose is to provide extra line on the spool in case a good fish strips more line out than the length of your fly line. Large trout, steelhead, salmon, and various types of ocean fish fall into this category. On small trout reels it s less critical, but some backing should be wound on to cushion the line and fill the spool. However, for larger fish backing is mandatory. Depending of the size of your reel, 100 to 300 yards of 20- or 30-pound Dacron backing may be needed, and up to 600 yards for saltwater fish; however, a relatively new backing material called gel-spun polyethylene is very strong, and because of its smaller diameter, more line can be wound on the spool. It is often used in big-game fishing and is available in bright colors. With shooting heads a level running line is also attached to backing.


Jeff Stewart releasing a fat six-pound rainbow.
In order to attach backing to the spool you want to use a knot that will not slip. I recommend the arbor knot, nail knot, or a double half-hitch. A knot I would not recommend is the Albright knot, because if it s not perfectly tied it can slip. This was noticeable when a client of mine hooked a large fall-run steelhead. After a good fight he started working the fish, but disaster struck. The fly line and backing came apart due to a poorly tied Albright knot. Unfortunately, I had a similar experience while fishing in Canada for the famous Kamloops rainbows, however, it wasn t a fly line that I lost.
It was my first introduction to backing, and took place years ago on a trophy trout lake in British Columbia near Pinaus Lake Lodge. My friend Pete and I had heard that the lake had fish of over ten pounds, and a boat was available there. After a short hike we reached the lake and started fishing. I was using my Granger Victory 8 bamboo and Sal Trout Pflueger, and was lazily casting a Tom Thumb toward the brushy shoreline. This ugly deer hair bug was supposed to suggest the brown sedges, but without any surface action I was beginning to have my doubts about the proprietor s recommendation. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a slight swirl near some sunken brambles and Pete swung the boat around. I quickly laid out a fortyfoot cast. As the fly nestled softly on the water I held my breath and twitched it. Wham! A huge Kamloops rainbow smacked the imitation and quickly tore out toward the center of the lake. Suddenly, the reel stopped screaming, the rod jerked violently, and the fish broke off. Pete looked at me and said, Why didn t you let him run? I glanced at my reel and said, Because I didn t have any line left! In a disgruntled tone he chastised me, Where the heck s your backing? I muttered sheepishly, What s backing?
FLY CASTING
There are many books that teach fly casting to beginners, and each volume s ultimate goal is to teach the basic skills of loading the rod, making accurate presentations, and in limited situations, casting for distance. The methods may vary from book to book, but each strives to teach the fundamentals in the least complicated manner. My goal is similar: to give a practical approach that allows you to learn the technique and improve in a short amount of time.
Fly casting has greatly changed from a rigid and archaic style that required the angler to maintain his upper arm and elbow close to the body in a stiff and uncomfortable position. Many anglers learned the statuesque posture and mechanical casting by placing books under their arms-if the books fell, they were doing it wrong. Unfortunately, this awkward position restricted arm movement and made changing planes and aggressive or unorthodox deliveries difficult. Where this technique was developed is uncertain, but it was likely influenced by an English style of casting, which tended to be dictated by the standards set by whatever club one belonged to.

When and where this method changed to a freer style is not clearly known, but my notion is that the wide and windy rivers of the western United States necessitated arm extension to effectively cover the water. Another factor prompting a change was the development of new and situational casts, such as roll casts, S-casts, and reach casts, which require exaggerated movement of the arm.
Successful fishing is generally not based on your ability to make extra-long casts, yet many anglers feel that it will improve their chances to hook more fish. Actually, it is a good way of ruining your chances, since the cardinal rule is to cover the close water first. In many cases, the fish are right under your feet where a short cast may be productive. Sometimes, people overtly cast too far to show off their talents and suggest that this ability is needed for angling competency, but in reality, it creates a false image for beginners. Unfortunately, such over-the-top skills are often built up at trade shows or at group gatherings where someone is trying to impress onlookers. I observed such a spectacle at a youth outdoor school. After a short time of basic casting instruction, the group leader was encouraging his students to a contest to see who could cast the farthest. When I observed them making six to eight false casts trying to achieve this absurd directive, I walked away shaking my head.
However, there are exceptions where casting for distance is important. The first is in tournament casting competition where a distance of 100 feet or more is a primary goal. If you re thinking of buying a new rod, you ll want to see and feel how it loads, and how it will perform when casting distances of 30 to 60 feet or more. Distance does have application on the water-longer casts are often required when fishing large and broad rivers for salmon, steelhead, large trout, or saltwater fish such as tarpon and bonefish. In the wide and windy streams and estuaries of Chile and Argentina, for instance, 60-foot-plus casts with double hauls (see pages 52-54) are sometimes required to reach the majestic sea trout, but they are hardly needed for less intimidating waters.
On page 20 we emphasized that your rod, reel, line, leader, and fly must be matched perfectly, and if you re new at this game, it s a good idea to have a friend or someone from a pro shop help you to get started-or else the following might happen to you.
Prior to one of my guide trips, a client tried to cut corners by purchasing an inexpensive steelhead outfit from a large retail outlet that gave him a real special deal. He tried to impress me with the fact he had not only saved $50, but also received an attractive rebate. I declined to comment until I watched him put his equipment into action. I pointed to the holding water, and he quickly waded in and with some effort began to work the line out. But after five minutes of watching him thrash the water, I said, Bill, there s something wrong with your casting. He reeled in and handed his outfit to me. After a few casts I immediately recognized that the clerk had set him up with the wrong line. Fortunately, I had an extra line and switched it to his reel. He resumed his casting and started to make respectable presentations. Suddenly, he yelled and a good fish grabbed the fly and surged downstream. Then the rod jerked to the surface and the line went limp. As he stumbled back toward me, he was looking at his reel and clutching some springs and gears in his hand. Look at this, he moaned. It just exploded! I looked at the remains of his reel and suggested that if he had purchased a better outfit this disaster would have been avoided.
T HE G RIP
Here are four standard methods of gripping your fly rod. The forefinger grip has good accuracy, but lacks the power of others. The thumb grip also generates good accuracy, but tends to overpower the line. The baseball grip generates power, but it s harder to control wrist action. The handshake grip is the grip that I recommend, because for many beginners it is the most natural and comfortable to use, and it generates as much power as the baseball grip and as much accuracy as either the thumb or forefinger grip. It also helps to prevent your backcast from going beyond one o clock.
The type of grip that you select may or may not be influenced by the shape of the handle. As mentioned before, the handshake grip is recommended, but the size and shape of your hand or pure comfort may be the determining factor, so try them all and pick the one that fits your hand the best.


F OREFINGER


B ASEBALL

T HUMB

H ANDSHAKE
Before you select a handle grip, check the surface of the cork. If it shows the presence of lots of pitting (surface holes) it s a poor quality cork, which can suggest that the rod may be an inferior product, too. Some manufacturers go to the extent of filling these depressions, but with use they usually become eroded. High quality cork as well as the hardware are expensive and can justify the extra cost of the rod.
Most fly rods come equipped with one of the four fly rod-handle styles illustrated on the next page. The cigar-shape style is usually found on shorter, lighter rods, and is better for smaller hands, because less thumb pressure is needed to manage the rod. However, the half- and full-wells grips work better with heavier rods, lines, and weighted flies. The modified Western grip is better for larger hands.
T HE B ASIC C AST
Before you begin to learn how to cast, you need to understand the fundamentals. The experience is similar to your first attempt to drive a car with a stick shift. You must depress the clutch to shift gears and gradually give the engine gas as you let the clutch out. If you let out too quickly, the car will shake or bounce along. So too in fly casting-it s all about timing. You have to properly time and synchronize your casting strokes so that the backward and forward casts travel with a fluid transition, but more of this when we discuss our first cast.


C IGAR -S HAPED

H ALF W ELLS

F ULL W ELLS

M ODIFIED W ESTERN
Breaking the wrist is the foremost problem for novice fly casters, but by using the push-and-pull method (see page 36 ), this initial stumbling block can be rectified. The fly rod, your wrist, and your forearm together become a common lever. The line is the resistance, your wrist is the fulcrum, and your arm is the effort. It is the same motion as driving a nail with a hammer except the nail is the resistance instead of the line. In either case, the effort can be wasted if you radically break your wrist on the back swing-the nail will be difficult to drive and the line will not load properly on the rod.
People who have played sports such as baseball, tennis, and golf often encounter this problem when they pick up a fly rod, since the swings in these sports require some wrist action and it s a difficult habit to break. But as soon as you control wrist action, you can concentrate more on your timing and delivery, and learning other casts that you will need.
To load the rod properly, the line should not travel through the air on a parallel plane.

The backcast should be aimed slightly above your head, and the forward cast pointed at a lower angle to the water. If you perform the basic cast with firm strokes and precise timing, your accuracy and presentation will not be affected. These casting planes will have to be altered for distance and situation-specific casts, all of which will be covered shortly.
P USH AND P ULL M ETHOD
After you ve mastered the basic cast and wrist control, you can begin building your arsenal of casts. Many casts call for wrist action, but if you don t learn to control your wrist to begin with, it will take you much longer to learn the skills. Some fly fishers do learn to cast by breaking their wrist, but their technique is usually unorthodox. Nonetheless, it can be an excellent way to present the fly-for them, that is. It s similar to baseball. Some of the greatest hitters in the professional leagues are unorthodox in their stance and swing, but they can hit the ball a country mile. Baseball s Hall of Famer Stan Musial was one of them. With proper instruction anyone can learn how to cast and become proficient, but it will depend entirely on how much time you devote to learning the skills.

P USH AND P ULL M ETHOD

Many people of the older school never had formal casting lessons and had to learn by watching others. My friend, the late Norman Anderson, fell into this category. He was a great fishing buddy, and one of the best anglers I had ever fished with. His heavyset frame and unorthodox presentation were no hindrance for him in placing a small fly into the most difficult places. Most of his casts were made with wrist action from all angles, which would have turned a purist s nose up in the air, but he caught fish. However, a point should be made that you can learn much by observing successful anglers, but don t use unorthodox casters as role models.
Y OUR F IRST C AST
Water is the ideal location for practicing your casting since water resistance facilitates line pickup, but a grassy area in your yard or a city park will suffice. Barbless flies should be used on water, and for grass attach a small piece of bright yarn, or another soft material to the end of the leader so it will lift easily off the irregular surface. Don t cast on a hard surface as it will cause undue wear on the line. Also, be sure to check out your background to avoid hooking trees, rocks, or an innocent bystander.
For your initial casts, use only one hand with a fixed amount of line extending beyond the rod, because until you ve had more experience your off hand will get in the way. Work with this setup until you perfect the critical timing of loading the rod. Once you ve mastered the basic cast, your off hand will be used for various line manipulations. (This concept is discussed in detail under Controlling the Line on page 45 .)
To begin, position yourself at a 45-degree angle. As you cast, this stance will allow you to watch the mechanics of your arm, wrist, and rod out of the corner of your eye. Your arm should be slightly away from your side, your wrist stiff, and the rod pointed down in the direction of the line. Next, strip 15 to 20 feet of line off the reel so that it lies straight out away from you. Then grip the handle, take any slack out of the line, and lift the rod firmly, pulling the line backward while moving the rod to the one o clock position without breaking your wrist. This is the backcast and is referred to as loading the rod. If you don t feel the rod pulling the weight of the line on the forward cast, it s not loaded properly.


When the line has leveled out on the backcast, pause momentarily and cast forward, snapping your wrist forward sharply (like driving a nail) to accelerate the line. As the line begins to land on the water, your arm should naturally follow through to finish the motion. This is the forward cast and should not be overpowering. If the line is loaded properly, your arm speed, wrist action, and the rod s flexing action will naturally blend these motions. This will enable the line to unfold and turn the leader and yarn/fly over smoothly and accurately.
Accuracy, distance, and effortless casts are determined by the loop in the fly line. With large open loops, the line has less wind resistance and the speed of the line is dissipated, so the loss of energy will not deliver the line with full thrust-better known as killing the cast.
To briefly review, in order to maintain tight loops, pick the line up firmly (no slack), and direct the motion back, stopping the rod vertically at one o clock. Time your forward cast so that when the line levels out behind you, you begin the forward stroke. With proper timing you ll feel the pull and weight of the line as you accelerate forward. As the tight loop rolls over, stop the rod tip as the path of the line levels out, and lower the rod to complete the cast. The coordination of these actions will culminate in a flawless presentation.
Casting accuracy can be improved if you can determine a specific location, an approximate distance, and the wind direction, and can work within all those variables. Also, moving water distorts the actual position of a rising fish, and depending on the speed and depth of the stream, the cast must be made three to six feet ahead of the rise (see page 181 ). The diagram to the left shows the relative rod angles for distance, average, and short casts, along with three important steps.
Don t be discouraged if your coordination is slow in developing. Mistakes are quite common in the beginning, because it s not easy to concentrate on three or four different actions at one time. The best way to eliminate these initial problems is to receive proper instruction from a qualified instructor, since you will get immediate feedback when you slip up. In time, you ll be able to critique yourself and begin to cast efficiently. As in any sport, practice as often as you can, because practice does make perfect!
C ASTING P ROBLEMS AND C URES
1. A delayed backcast occurs when you pause too long as you load the rod and drop the fly line below the horizontal plane and create wide, open loops on the forward cast. The delay causes the line to lose velocity, scrape the ground, break your fly off, and land on the water in piles far short of your target. The condition will worsen if there is any wind present. It can be a frustrating and expensive problem, but can be avoided with proper timing, loading the rod firmly, and starting the forward cast a split second sooner.
2. The hurried backcast occurs when the forward cast is started before the line has completely leveled out behind you. This abrupt termination of line flow will accelerate the leader to an acute arc. Consequently, a sharp cracking sound will occur, indicating that the fly has not only broken the sound barrier, but also has been snapped off. To correct this error, slow the backcast down for a split second to allow the leader and fly to level out. Pauses and speedups will come with constant practice, and when the cast finally feels good, you ll know that your timing is right. This is what fly casting is all about.
3. The lazy arm cast occurs because the line is not picked up with authority. The tendency is to think that the rod will load itself if you just lift it. Although graphite rods today are particularly strong, they still demand a quick, vigorous pull to accelerate the line. With this action, the line will jump off the surface with ease, but without a firm pull, it will fall lazily below the horizontal plane, and the cast will lose speed and dissipate. Loading the rod properly requires quick line pull to offset water tension. (See The Single Haul on page 48 .)
4. Cocking your wrist can ruin a perfectly loaded rod. Let s say that you ve loaded the rod correctly. That is, your timing is right and your arm and wrist are stiff enough to accelerate the line, but as you begin to make the forward motion, your wrist is cocked as the rod passes through twelve o clock, which means that the line will drop below the horizontal plane and create an open loop, causing loss of speed and a poor cast. It s the same as breaking the wrist on the initial backcast. To prevent this from happening, remember to keep your wrist stiff until it moves past 90 degrees, and then turn the wrist over to complete the cast.
5. Curving the cast is caused by turning your wrist inward on the forward cast, instead of a straight wrist snap, and puts an arc in the line, which defeats the line s potential energy. You can use a curve cast to direct the leader and fly around obstacles; but for a straight overhead cast, the curve creates an opencurve loop and loss of both distance and accuracy. To rectify this problem be sure your wrist and thumb are directly in line with the upper part of your forearm as you snap your wrist over.

6. Tailing loops can be caused by the wind and are often erroneously called wind knots, but they most often result from improper timing. A tailing loop occurs when the rod tip stops before the line has leveled out, causing the leader to whip or twist around itself. To cure this premature reflex, allow the line to straighten out and make a more gentle forward stroke, instead of a quick wrist snap. As with hurried casts, flies can also be snapped off.
7. The hard forward thrust occurs when the rod is cast forward and downward too fast, causing the line, fly, and even the rod tip to splash into the water. To correct this problem, stop the rod higher and make a firm but softer follow-through. This will turn the line over so that it lands gently on the water.
8. Changing casting planes is sometimes necessary but is tough if you are a beginning caster. If you are false casting to one direction but change the angle of the cast in midair to reach another arc, a curve often develops in the line and causes an inaccurate cast. This cast can be done with more experience, but until then it is best to change your body angle to cast to another location.
9. Forearm and elbow extension is imperative in loading the rod. If you limit your arm movement, you lose the necessary leverage to expand your casting range. Open loops are inevitable, and to achieve distance, wrist action on the backcast becomes necessary to try to reload the rod. This is nearly impossible, so the solution is to use the western style of casting. With your forearm and elbow slightly away from your side, lift the rod smartly from the pickup point toward a 90-degree vertical position. If you have proper timing and wrist control, this extension will allow you to make casts from all angles with accuracy.
10. Slack-line casting is commonly used to counteract water currents and to give the fly a drag-free presentation. Slack-line presentations, such as the reach, tuck, and S-casts, are examples and are illustrated on pages 55-58. However, slack line can kill an overhead cast or cause the line to lose energy that s needed for a proper presentation. Slack line can be created when lifting line off the water to cast, holding slack line in the left hand for line control, or in the air due to poor timing on the backcast or the forward release. Strict and timely line control is needed at all times to prevent breakdowns and facilitate your casting performance and pleasure.
Fly casting requires proper mechanics and a little bit of athleticism helps perform the many casts and maneuvers you have to make during a day of fishing. Don t become a statue by going stoically through the motions. Become part of the action. Bending your the knees to make a delicate cast, leaning forward and extending your arm to gain a more downstream float with a dry fly, and leaning forward on the reach cast are things you can do to help you make better presentations.
C ASTING T IPS
1. Some anglers get overly excited when they see rising fish, and in their first effort to hook one they make a poor cast. When you see a fish, it s important to take time and prepare to make a quality cast on the next rise. Get into position, strip the casting line out, get control of your emotions, and be patient (more of this on page 142 ).
2. When assembling your rod, be sure that the guides are aligned and that the rod sections are securely set in place. Also, always make sure that the leader is threaded through the guides.
3. Fly lines tend to have a memory, a tendency to coil, after prolonged use and can reduce your casting distance. To unravel this problem, take the time to strip the line off the reel and stretch it with your hands-this is also a good time to clean and dress your line.
4. Line twists can be caused by wind, large or heavily weighted flies, strike indicators, tandem flies, and sinking lines. One way to prevent twists from occurring is to use the Belgian, or circular, cast. In this cast, you don t cast in a completely straight line. Instead, use a sidearm backcast followed by an overhead forward cast.
5. The slide pickup can reduce the number of false casts you ll need to add distance. As you make this cast, let 3 to 5 feet of line slip through your fingers and through the guides on the backcast, and then make a fore cast. This way your fly will spend more time on the water and less in the air.
6. When you ve finished the day s fishing and begin packing up, don t put your rod, reel, and other equipment on your car. You might regret it when you get home and discover your $600 outfit is missing. I mention this because of personal experience.
7. On windy days you should always use protective glasses to protect your eyes. Most polarized sunglasses are shock resistant enough to protect your eyes from errant backcasts. You should wear them anyway due to their ability to cut through glare, help you spot fish, and find safe footing and avoid missteps while wading.
8. If you re nymphing with split shot and get snagged, always turn your head when you re trying to free it. If it breaks loose, the line can act like a slingshot and the lead could put an eye out. A roll cast is good way to loosen flies snagged underwater. Lift the rod to the one o clock position, pull the line tight, and send a powerful roll toward the fly.
M ENDING THE L INE
Mending the line is used to achieve a drag-free drift. It s a necessary technique that allows the fly to move naturally on or under the surface, across the current, or up- and downstream. A simple wrist roll will mend the fly at short distances, but when longer casts are made, the arm should be raised and the wrist roll opened up. This will put more slack on the water, but if the line is jerked when mending, the drift of the fly will be altered and refused by fish. Worse yet, it will pass over fishable water. This can be avoided by extending your arm forward as you mend, or you can mend slack line from your stripping guide to the reel.
Different mends are needed for certain water types. For example, when you cast the wet fly or streamer across and downstream, the mend or mends will allow the fly to drift across the current without drag. When using dry flies in riffles, pocket water, and water with surface obstructions, more mends are required to maintain a drag-free float.

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