At last! A long and deep pool of gin clear water! After a very long, sweaty hike upstream, where the river looked much more suitable for whitewater sports than for fishing, this was a really relieving view. I started scanning the water in the tail slowly progressing upstream. Nothing. I was close to the head of the pool when I saw the fish: a big brown trout patrolling the slow water in the far bank, lazily taking bites from the full of debris surface
With all that defeaning chirping from the cicadas around it wasn’t hard to choose a fly pattern. At its head, the pool was narrow and with a fast tongue of current in the middle. In its search the fish was following a rather inconsistent upstream-downstream-upstream path; always beyond the strip of faster water, of course. I had to wait for the trout to be looking away from me to make a cast. Some good casts were useless, as the fish changed direction unexpectedly. And when things were right in that regard, drag resulted in just a number of disdainful looks. A reach cast wasn’t enough to counteract the big difference in speed between the two pieces of water and I couldn’t wade more upstream of my current position. Not an easy challenge.
Finally, the trout decided to search farther downstream. Following it I got to a place where the problematic current was slower and, by presenting my fly downstream instead of across, I had a much better angle to make a successful reach cast. Soon after the brown was posing for the picture above.
When everything was finished I reflected on how many times the thrill of the moment doesn’t allow us to think clearly. Why didn’t I use a bucket cast in the first place? Placing a good amount of slack line in a heap just beyond the fast water tongue of the pool would have resulted in the longest drag-free drift possible. Simply I had not remembered it. I tend to be too affected by the sight of big fish.
I have been regularly shooting slow motion videos of fly casting for the last ten years or so, and many of my filming sessions show some unexpected things that make me think and learn, and even change some of my previous views. Reality trumps fly casting models every time.
The following video is the result of one of last week’s filming session. At first sight, the appearance of two loops on the very same back cast was puzzling. Then I noticed how my leader was momentarily caught by the grass; how that short pull affected the rod tip; how, as a result, a small wave was formed in the line (a tiny tailing loop in fact) and how all those ingredients resulted in that weird loop configuration.
Did you notice that I love to study fly lines in slow motion? 😎
The first point in that piece has brought me some mildly embarrassing memories:
A couple of years ago I gave a Spey casting course to two anglers that were preparing a salmon fishing trip abroad and wanted to up their game with the double handed rod. I knew one of them from a previous course; he fly fished for trout and salmon. About fifteen minutes into the lesson I noticed that something wasn’t going properly judging by the face expression of the second student.
—Just one question —I said—, do you fly fish for trout?
—Yes —he replied—, but I use spinning tackle.
So I had been talking to him about loops —and all that stuff exclusively related to fly fishing with a fly line— without checking first if he knew the terminology… which he, obviously, didn’t!
That above is a common question in fly fishing forums. So common that, in fact, it is the title of a thread I read recently. And the most usual reply to that question goes along these lines: “Most fish are taken within 35 feet.”
But, what happens when the fish are active 20+ meters away? Do you pack all gear and get back home?
In the occasion shown by the following video there were some nice brown trout rising in the middle of the river. By the way, if you share the popular view that you can’t hook fish on a dry fly at such a distance… well, just think twice. I caught quite a few browns that were rising just upstream of that bridge; the best one weighed 1 kg (McLean dixit), and a similar one came off the hook while I tried to prevent it to go downstream of the bridge, rubbing the line against one of the pillars.
It is always a pleasure to see my mate Prpa in action:
“… the classical pile cast where the upward trajectory on the last forward cast is very extreme, allowing for the line to fall to the surface in a pile. Be careful to avoid a tailing loop. You will need to back off on your force, open your loop, and angle your backcast down as much as possible.”
That above is a quote from a document I have been reading recently. Well, it is pretty easy to check the validity of that statement in practice.
Fourteen meters of line and leader from the reel to the fluff. No adjustments in force, narrow loop, back cast angled up… and still no tailing loop.
As usual, no tailing loop if you accelerate your casting stroke properly.