Casting Planes for fishing

Casting Planes for fishing

Paul Arden | Monday, 24 February 2020

A good question came up on the Board about casting planes principally for saltwater fly fishing and taking shots. I suppose like many people I heard that with heavy flies one should use the Belgian or Oval Cast for such conditions. It was actually while fishing for Barra with Graeme Williams of Insight Flyfishing, in Darwin, that I discovered the problems with this approach.

For this style of fishing we were taking tight shots deep into mangroves, through “slots” of vegetation that demanded that the fly travel directly over a vertical loop - mostly. The problem with the Belgian Cast (horizontal backcast/ vertical forward cast) is that it’s very difficult to finish the backcast with the fly perfectly alighted to the forward cast.

I remember giving the rod to Graeme and saying you show me what you do. Using pickup and lay downs to stabilise the loop at the beginning of the cast, a high and vertical over the rod tip backcast, and “giving the line” with the rod and the line hand just as the loop made its final turnover, Graeme had no problems throwing through gaps in mangroves and deeper into the mangroves than I had actually thought possible!

[Graeme is quite the master by the way, Ronan and I had met him in Tassie on our trip there and he had invited us up to fish with him. To my knowledge he pioneered fly fishing for Saratoga. I’m not sure how much guiding he still does but if you ever get the chance to fish with him then I can thoroughly recommend the experience.]

My tropical SW flyfishing experience is somewhat limited. I’ve fished for Tarpon in Florida, Redfish in Texas a few times and Louisiana, spent a bunch of time fishing both East and West Coast of Australia, a trip to the Maldives for bonefish. As some of you will know, it’s my plan to buy a sailing boat in about 5 years and spend fifteen years doing just this sort of fishing, living it, breathing it, day in day out. I’m really looking forward to that part of my life.

Making accurate tight shots is something I have spent a lot of time doing however and it’s what I do here in the jungle. Here you must use a vertical rod plane for most shots. Any deviation causes the fly to hook and that’s a real problem particularly with the speed of the shots we need here. The only times I use a tilted casting plane is to intentionally throw a curve cast around a set of babies to reach the adult.

Gary made a very interesting post in the same thread where he recommends using a more horizontal casting plane in order that the fly lands more gently, which I found very interesting indeed. That makes a lot of sense to me for spooky fish. I’m sure that there will also be a case for using a “collapsed” cast with Permit too. With such a cast it would be possible to use a lighter fly and still reach the bottom where the Permit are feeding.

When fishing at close range for any species I have always used the side cast. Casting the rod vertically puts it straight into the fish’s window of vision, tilting the casting plane close to the horizontal keeps the rod and line closer to the water and is necessary under such conditions. 

You can read that thread here: 


Hope you have a great week - we are very busy selling rods at the moment and I’m busy keeping the supply chain organised. 

Cheers, Paul