Aprender de los errores




Lejos de ser un ejercicio de auto flagelación estas reflexiones se basan en que hay buenos motivos para pensar que se aprende más de los errores que de los éxitos. Mediada la temporada, y con algún importante viaje de pesca a la vista, es el momento de reflexionar sobre algunos fallos para evitarlos en el futuro.

Este artículo previo se quedó corto, lo que sigue a continuación es su secuela:

  • Lanzando ninfas hay que estar bien atento a lo que tenemos encima de la cabeza. Cualquier tipo de vegetación que no plantearía problemas pescando a mosca seca puede ser mortal con moscas pesadas. Inercia lo llaman.
  • Comprueba regularmente el terminal en busca de posibles nudos o picadas. De hecho conviene chequear también las partes más gruesas del bajo: en alguna ocasión he tenido roturas en un tramo del 0,15 en vez de en el 0,10 más abajo —tengo un recuerdo reciente de ello. La vagancia no compensa. 😞
  • No seas remolón a la hora de cambiar/modificar el bajo/terminal si las condiciones lo requieren. Muchas veces transformar una deriva mala en una buena es cuestión de pequeños ajustes en el material. La falta de motivación tras un largo periodo sin tocar un pez conduce a la pereza, y esta última se come la motivación. Parafraseando a Picasso: Cuando llegue la inspiración prefiero que me coja trabajando.
  • Cambiar de lugar en el escenario de pesca llevando la mosca en la mano y algo de línea y bajo colgando de la puntera de la caña pensando en ahorrar tiempo no es una buena idea. La verdad es que se suele perder tiempo en enganches y líos. ¡Debería tatuarme esta máxima en la mano de la caña!
  • Aprende a calcular cuánto puedes tirar hasta romper el terminal. Después de una sesión de lanzado puedes anudar uno de tus bajos de pescar a una rama, un banco del parque o cualquier otro “pez” que haya disponible; luego tira empleando diferentes ángulos con la caña. Si tienes un terminal del 0,17 o más grueso ten cuidado al tirar con el talón de la caña vertical no sea que rompas la puntera. Las sesiones fotográficas interminables seguro que matan peces destinados a ser devueltos, pero bastantes de ellos probablemente ya estaban “muertos” antes de llegar a la sacadera debido a “peleas” interminables.
  • Al entrenar lanzado mira siempre tu lance trasero. Un vadeo algo profundo, ninfas pesadas, bajos largos, terminales finos, lances moderados o largos… por separado o combinados, son proclives a resultar en lances traseros desastrosos, y un lance delantero podrá ser tan bueno como su correspondiente trasero pero no mucho más.

No sé si a ti te convencerá pero yo suelo volver a esta lista con frecuencia. A base de releerla igual aprendo finalmente. 😓😀

When a good loop isn’t enough

A nice and tight loop is normally considered the tell-tale sign of good casting control. However, in spey casting that is only part of the story.
Let’s take a look at the following example:

I was satisfied with the loops I was seeing, but subsequent analysis of the video shown a gross error that normally happens inadvertently: a slipping anchor.
Why is this bad?
– It detracts energy from the forward cast —but that is a problem only if your aim is maximum distance, not with an 18 m cast like this one.
– It may send the fly against the vegetation behind you and hook a branch, ruining the cast. It is a nuisance but without further consequences.
– If you are fishing a vegetation-free bank with a shingle-beach behind you things could get worse if you don’t care about your slipping anchor: your fly hits a stone and the hook looses its point… now you are subject to Murphy’s law.

Now the important thing is how to avoid it in practice. The reason for that failed anchor in the video above is a too inclined-up sweep; that leads to a too high apex of the V-loop, which amounts to a big angle between the water surface and the fly leg. The usual result is a fly traveling backward instead of rising up from the water to start its forward trip.

Sweep lower and back and, if the anchor is properly placed and long enough, it will work fine.

As an example let’s see a couple of casts at the same distance and with the same gear, but with a proper anchoring angle:

Get Prepared!



Not from NZ but from Old Europe


I see it all the time. I mean being ill-prepared for your upcoming trip abroad, specially regarding the proper casting technique to match the challenge ahead. And I have been guilty of it more times than I would like to admit. Frustration —highly aggravated by a depleted bank account— awaits ahead.

So train your casting regularly, starting way before the trip of your dreams begins. Mine is less than a month away. To New Zealand. Probably one of the trips of my lifetime, so I am training as much as I can, not as much as I’d like though.

Anyway it is very true that casting is just one of the array of skills that a successful angler must posses. So, apart from the casting practice, I thought it was time to reread my own notes about some common mistakes and pitfalls, in order to keep them in my subconscious mind when on the water… then adding some more that have been coming to my head after the season was over. 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.
  • Oval casts are great for heavy nymphs… but also for casting any kind of fly in confined spaces. They help in keeping your fly box well stuffed: it is always better to snag a branch at head height than five meters above you.
  • Take fly drag as a given, and act accordingly. Always.
  • Having that point above in mind, don’t expect to fix with your line already on the water what you didn’t devise while it still was in the air.
  • The ever shortening tippet: every change of fly changes the drifting characteristics of your leader. Take it into account as well when thinking of drag. And don’t be lazy.
  • Learn to discern hidden drag. Many times the difference between a bad and a good drift is really minute.
  •  Change position, casting tactics or both before changing fly.
  • 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 of that), but even the disappearance of that dry fly, apparently sucked in by a small swirl, could be the telltale of a different story.

The Never Learning Story


Watch your backcast when training. A little bit of wading, heavy nymphs, long leaders, thin tippets, moderately or plainly long casts… on their own or combined, are a recipe for backcasts disasters

A new season is over and, again, it comes the time to reflect on successes… but mainly on mistakes. It isn’t about being prone to self-flagellation but about not succumbing to the same pitfalls next year.

So consider the following as a variation on the same theme started one year ago, and the list goes on like this:

14.  When nymphing always check for things above you. Overhanging structure that doesn’t pose any problem to casting dries could be deadly for weighted flies. Inertia they call it.

15. Check regularly your tippet for nicks or knots. In fact check the thicker parts of the leader as well: at times we have breakages in the 5X instead of the 7X further down. And I have a very very recent memory of that. Lazyness doesn’t pay off. 😞

16. Don’t be lazy in changing leader/tippet if conditions ask for it. Many times turning a bad drift into a good one is about tweaking your setup. Lack of motivation after a long period of slow fishing leads to lazyness, and the latter will never improve motivation. Paraphrasing Picasso: When inspiration comes I prefer it to find me working.

17. Moving to a new casting position with fly in hand and some line and leader hanging from the rod tip thinking of saving time isn’t a good idea. You will waste it instead. I should tattoo this one in my casting hand!

18. Learn how much you can pull before breaking your tippet. Afer a casting session on the lawn you can tie one of your fishing leaders to a branch, a park bench or any other “fish” you have available. Then pull using different rod angles. If you have a 4X tippet and pull with the rod butt upright be careful lest you break the rod tip. Never ending photo sessions surely kill fish, but some of them were already dead before coming to the net due to a never ending “fight”.

19. Watch your backcast when training. A little bit of wading, heavy nymphs, long leaders, thin tippets, moderately or plainly long casts… on their own or combined, are a recipe for backcasts disasters.

I don’t know about you but I will get back to this list frequently. As my good friend and mentor Prpa likes to tell me: You are young, you will learn. 😓😀

For a sequel go here.

Reflections of a False Beginner

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Maybe it is a problem of lack of recruitment, or that every new angler is focused from the start in fishing nymphs without a fly line -most probably both- but over here it is a fact that most of those interested in casting instruction have already been fly fishing for a number of years. They just hadn’t cared about polishing their casting skills. They are what we call “false beginners”.

It is known that deeply ingrained bad casting form is very hard to uproot. It is far easier to get quick, good results with those who start their fly fishing careers taking some casting classes.

Being a self-taught angler puts you in a similar scenario. I know it from experience. Seeing myself repeating the same frustrating mistakes over and over again forced a decision: I won’t forget about those bad habits as soon as I leave the water, only to face them again the next day; I will take my time remembering those bad moves, will reflect on them, and will start an unlearning program.

The season is over, so it looks like a good time to put down a list of those bad moves I have been guilty of perpetrating over the years. Some are already eradicated; others still bring swearing to my mouth from time to time.

  1. All anglers know that fish seem to have a strange predilection for the opposite bank… Just be aware that your own bank is the opposite one of someone else, and may hold as much fish as that in front. So do look purposefully before entering the water; a big wake running away will remind you of this if you don’t.
  2. Trout always look upstream, the problem is that upstream doesn’t always mean upriver. Analyze the current’s real direction before making your first cast.
  3. Cast to specific targets. Always. Even when just fishing the water.
  4. When your fly drifts over the target, study the curved configuration of the line on the water. That is the radiography of dragging disease.
  5. Think of fly drag before thinking of fly change.
  6. Always check every knot after changing a fly.
  7. Never lose sight of the drift of your fly. If you need to fix something in your tackle remove your fly from the water. Lack of focus equals missed fish. Maybe The Fish.
  8. If you are tired and feel unmotivated stop fishing. Take a break. A nap. Have a beer or two. Whatever. Lack of focus equals missed fish. Maybe The Fish.
  9. Slack line is a must for a drag-free drift, but make sure that it doesn’t compromise your ability to strike effectively.
  10. If you shift from a short rod to a long one, keep in mind that the same arm motion when striking will probably be too much for your thin tippet.
  11. If after days of fishing #22 emergers on a 7X tippet you change to a big streamer on a stout leader, remember that they invented the strip strike to put it to use. Unless you want to miss the trout of your lifetime, of course, (based on, very recent, actual events).
  12. When playing a fish stand with your feet touching each other. I managed to break the tip of a new rod when a trout changed its mind, deciding that running downstream through a perfect channel between my legs was much more relaxing than fighting the current.
  13. Last but not least: During a feeding frenzy… Don’t eat! 😃

UPDATE: A sequel after season 2016 is finished, and another one