This short article recently appeared in Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine as part of the " Get out of Jail" series - Paul.
One of the things we haven't covered in this series is how to nail fish quickly. I've been lucky enough to fish New Zealand extensively; I'm practically a Kiwi now and I'm looking forward to showing Charles this amazing country. However one of the things he will need is a Quick Draw cast.
You see, there is the small window of opportunity between spotting a fish and casting to it; the fish in New Zealand are notorious for their ability to bugger off before you've had a chance to creep up behind them. And it's not just because they're spooky but they tend to just wander all over the place. Even in rivers, where they shouldn't. Often I've watched fish move from an easy location to a hard one and for no good reason at all. Of course it works both ways and if you wait long enough he might come back again.
One of the most important rules is that the spotting position is almost never the casting position. We've covered a lot of casts in this series, to cope with those “challenging” positions, but if you have a choice pick the easiest! My personal preference, assuming circumstances allow it, is to approach from behind and left of a fish lying to the left of the current and vice versa for the right. This allows me to stick most of the line across slack water and just curve – or hook – the leader and fly in front of the fish. Learning to do this – preferably combining it with a slight puddle (low backcast) – would be a smart move for any river angler.
Many anglers new to this style of combat fishing fail right from the start. I've literally spent all day, or even several days, looking for a fish and then go from finding it to hooking it in a matter of seconds. It's better not to hesitate anyway, as soon as you start to think about it, it falls apart!
As I approach the casting position, keeping low, I'll flick the flies onto the water behind me, so that as I move forward I can slip the rest of the leader and some line out the tip ring. For this to work you'll need a small knot and/or some flexible cement. I use a two and a half turn needle knot and trim it close.
The thing not to do is false cast pulling line off the reel as you do; waving the rod around your head is the last thing you'll want to be doing and since you can only pull off about a yard at a time, the best way by far is to get the line off the reel before you make the cast. Some people forget that bit.
So this is the situation, you're lining up behind the fish, the flies and some flyline is on the downstream dangle – be careful not to hook up with rocks or week, and remember to roll cast downstream while on the approach upstream if you've something heavy which will snag the bottom; no one said this was supposed to be easy – and you're pulling line off the reel. The best situation would be to do this before you arrive so then you can coil it beside your feet the right way up. That does make sense; you just have to read it twice.
This is a big fish by the way.
Now this is where you can express yourself in an artistic way; snake roll cast the line over the tip to get the change of angle (a tension cast would probably clomp you on the head) and then sidecast the line into delivery.
Much of this fishing is a one-shot wonder and you don't get a second chance, Charles. Which is why you'll love it!