Having fly fished - SIGHT FISHING in particular - many crystal clear waters like the tropical saltwater, lakes, rivers, small streams or the Baltic sea I have often spooked the fish by not making precisely the first cast count. The second cast often offered much less of a change to get linked to the fish. With the third cast I only caught very few fish in sight fishing.
Fish are not just stupid creatures. They learn fast how to avoid getting linked to our line. The more casts you bump down on their heads, the more fish will turn down their "chance of taking the fly" - mood! In this it doesn't matter, if it's a feeding-mood or just a sort of taking-our-fly-out-of-curiosity (which by the way happens most often, I think) -mood. Simply many casts spook most of the fish directly.
Sight fishing usually means presenting our fly in clear water - offering a relatively high visabilty. That means not only can we spot the fish but the fish can also spot our leader, fly line (or it's shadow) or even ourselves.
Those fly fishermen sight fishing a lot usually know about the importance to make the first cast count. But how is it when fly fishing in less clear water? Let's call it "blind casting" the fish. I'd like to offer you my experience on this.
First of all it's fair to summarize - the lower water visability will be, the more casts you can make without spooking the fish. But (and this is a pretty big fat butt) we still can spook the fish with every single cast. This doesn't happen often? Yes, it does - way more often than (I think) we want to really know it!?
Now I could write down a large book full with my experience of having spooked the fish in muddy water situations. It took me 20 years to really learn that not only can fish easily locate/realize the tiniest flies even in extremely muddy water but also they can be spooked pretty easily. Don't be afraid - I am not going to offer you such a book now.
In the end it's pretty simple:
When you arrive at the water - start SLOWLY. STUDY the water first. Prepare best for your FIRST cast. And now make it (the first cast) count. Yes, it's this strategy, which has safed the very most of may fishing days and even fishing trips!
If you have no clue where the fish might be, cover the water with just some casts and then give the fish some time to get a rest. Then start again with only some casts. Believe me it's not in the time you make your fly moving thru the water but in offering the fish one clean presentation - no matter which water you may fish. This strategy has worked best for me all around the planet!
Fair to remember it to have been a hard way of learning this strategy. I give it away (for free) now. ;)
By the way - what is YOUR best fly fishing strategy?
Oh, and please let me offer one more important point in order to make the first cast the best one of the day to those of you not fly fishing 300 days a year, like Paul and I do. Most fly fishermen start out the fishing day with their worst casts from what I've seen over the years. This is related to not having fished for a while! So make sure you perform some casts in order to get back online with nice smooth presentations BEFORE you start out in your hot spot.
Great fly fishing week to all of you!
All my best
At the moment we are teaching fly fishing for Atlantic salmon on the Skjern river in Denmark. I'd like to offer some pictures as usual...