How many times have you made the cast and missed the shot? You have either cast too far and lined the fish, or too short, too wide of the mark, or you are too accurate and landed the fly on the fish.
In my experience there are more trout fly fisherman than any other species. It could be said that trout are often forgiving and you can keep casting and changing flies provided the fly is presented as naturally possible. It is not surprising however to find that trout tactics do not work for a lot of other fish, where you only have one chance. With constantly moving fish like sailfish, marlin, redfish, permit, queenfish, saratoga, and carp you are either in the zone, having to make another cast to represent the fly, or missing the fish entirely. I have spent years with Paul fishing for snakeheady, initially a totally frustrating experience. You quickly learn that unless you can make the first shot count, there is no point even casting. This seriously does your head in, but after much practice, the snakehead appear to slow down. As Stuntman Ronan said after his snakehead experience...”you take the time to make time to make the first cast count”.
I was fishing for Blue Mahseer in the Khoa Sok National Park in Thailand. Mahseer are part of the carp family, except that they will take hoppers with gusto from the surface. Mahseer are beyond spooky, as Juan Wei from Sports Fishin' Asia says, you have to wade like a heron. If you send ripples along the pool in front of you, you will put the fish down. You have to fish where the fish are, so when you are fishing the seams and lies, this is where making the first cast count is essential, as you often only get one go.
Accuracy - Pick targets. When putting a nymph, wet fly or dry fly through a seam, putting the fly into position gives rewards. A trout is holding on a rock and feeding hard. If you can put the dry/nymph in the right place the first time, your chances are increased. Making many casts increases the chance of spooking the fish.
When practising, have a plan. Like golf to see how far they can hit a ball, men will quickly strip off more line and go for distance. By comparison short casting and accuracy is boring, and yet catching fish on a fly is more about the short game than casting distance. Learn to cast to distant targets, then to close targets, keeping the line in the air. Learn about angles. Practice fly first, fly last and fly and flyline together. Practice accuracy, being able to adjust your cast in mid air, and line management.
Making the first cast count is as much about line management as it is about accuracy. Learn how to hold line in your line hand, and release line into the cast. If you are on a skiff, learn how to manage line on the deck, and not to apply the foot brake. Constantly check the line is not wrapped around some obstacle or under your feet. Practice being able to make the cast with minimum false casts. Don’t drop the line during the cast.. be prepared to check the line, start stripping or strip strike.
Feeding the fish and angles.
Really great fly fishermen (women) don’t just cast and hope. You have to fish where the fish are, and make every cast a shot. You have to be fast, accurate and efficient. You have to understand angles, and how to feed the fly to the fish. A kitten can be tricked into chasing a ball of wool. Fish can be tricked into taking a fly if presented properly, and you allow the fish to close the gap between itself and the fly without stopping the fly.
The greatest reward is to see and read the fish, make the cast, and trick the fish into taking the fly. If after all that, you don’t hook or land the fish...salute the fish.. as it has won!