I see it all the time. I mean being ill-prepared for your upcoming trip abroad, specially regarding the proper casting skills to match the challenge ahead. I myself have been guilty of it more times than I would like to admit. Frustration —highly aggravated by a depleted bank account— awaits ahead.
So training your casting regularly —starting way before the adventure of your dreams begins— is a must. I did it so before one of the trips of my lifetime; to New Zealand. Time proved that it wasn’t enough though: nothing like the sight of an active big brown to pull my casting apart, sometimes up to the point of looking like a beginner. Then I remembered that sound advice by Gary Borger, something along these lines: Treat every fish, even small ones, as if they were trophies. That will prepare you for the time when the trophy fish appears.
It is very true that casting is just one of the ample array of skills that a successful angler must possess. But take into account that being assisted by a competent guide means that you have the advantage of being safe from doing the wrong thing when it comes to:
- Planning a suitable strategy for the day
- Deciding the tactics to employ
- Spotting the fish
- Analyzing the best position to cast from
- Choosing the right fly
And after your guide has done all that work for you the only thing that is actually in your hands —and only in your hands— is to present the fly correctly, preferably on your first cast.
So now, apart from resuming the casting practice, I thought it was time to reread my previous notes about some common mistakes and pitfalls, in order to keep them in my subconscious mind when on the water… and time of adding some more ideas that have been coming to my head during this past season. Here they are:
- Check your surroundings, specially up and behind you before starting to cast. Trees don’t need more decoration, they are beautiful as such. Rod tip repairs are a nuisance also.
- Oval casts are great for heavy nymphs… but also for casting any kind of fly in narrow and forested streams. Snagging a branch behind you at head height instead of five meters above helps in keeping your fly box well stuffed.
- Take fly drag as a given, and cast accordingly. Always.
- Having the previous point in mind, don’t expect to fix with your line already on the water what you didn’t devise while it was still in the air.
- Learn to discern hidden drag. Many times the difference between a bad and a good drift is really minute.
- Check that ever shortening tippet or leader; every change of fly changes the drifting characteristics of your leader as well. Take it into account when thinking of drag. Don’t be lazy.
- Before changing the fly, change position, casting tactics, leader/tippet… or all of them.
- When in doubt, pull! It could be a fish, even The Fish. This is pretty evident with nymphs and streamers (I keep some painful memories about that), but even that dry fly which suddenly gets out of sight —apparently sucked in by a small swirl in the current— could be the telltale of a different story.
I know that I will come back to these notes regularly. I am young, I will learn.