The world's best flyfishing site.

'And I'm left handed'
The Pupil

setting up
what is...?
what fish?
why fly fish?
how we invented...
overhead cast
overhead faults
roll cast
roll cast faults
shooting line
putting it together
after the lesson
back to index

Putting it all together

When we are actually fishing we often search the water using the fly. We do this by casting out and retrieving the fly back. Retrieving the line as in the last stage, is an effective means of doing so and is called 'stripping the fly'.

You could pull the fly all the way to the rod tip, but this is not a good situation to start a forward cast. In order to bend the rod it is important to have sufficient weight of line outside the rod tip.

So what we actually do is we pull the line until there is about 8 yards of flyline outside the tip ring, and then retrieve the rest of the distance by lifting the rod tip back until you are in the starting position for the roll cast. Then we roll cast the line out onto the water, and follow up with an overhead cast, shooting the spare line out again.

Once you can do this you can go fishing!

I'd like to draw your attention to a problem. Often you will find that a fish follows your fly in all the way and almost to your feet. You set up the roll cast and pause slightly to allow the tip of line to 'stick' to the water and then at this point, the fish suddenly finds his prey has stopped and he decides to eat it.

So how the hell do you set the hook? You can't strike backwards because of all the slack line in the D-loop. You can't walk backwards to take out this slack as there just isn't that sort of time. There is only one way to hook this fish. I have asked thousands of beginners this question. I have had the correct answer from about three of them. It's actually gotten to the stage where I don't expect the answer, and when I do get it I'm speechless. Karen left me speechless... and instantly.

The correct and only way to hook these fish is to immediately execute the roll cast. The momentum of the line travelling forwards will set the hook. I catch about one third of my fish this way. If you can learn to do it you will catch 50% more fish. Think about that! The short pause to allow the line time to anchor is critical incidentally, for not only is it necessary for the roll cast, but it also gives the fish time to open and close it's mouth!

Once you have successfully put this sequence together, you can aim your roll cast a little higher and instead of allowing the line to land on the water, pull it back immediately into an overhead cast.

Karen: Why would you do this?
Paul: To avoid surface disturbance and because it's quicker.

Many anglers will also false cast a few times in order to shoot a little bit more flyline outside the rod before the final delivery. One false cast is fine; it can allow you to shoot some extra line out (to start with, try this only after the stop on the forward cast). You will not cast further by making more than one false cast. The more false casting you do, the less time your flies are in the water, the more energy you waste and the more likely you are to scare the fish away.

The only time you can put lots of false casting to good effect is when drying floating flies.

Return to whence you came