Catching a lot of fish in fly fishing isn’t much about presenting brightly polished pictures of our flies in all kind of social media nor is it about learning to hit excellent distance casts on grass.
Joan Wulff ones said:
“If you don’t know where the fish lie but can cast well enough to cover all the water with finesse, you are likely to solve the mystery and catch fish. If you know where they lie but can neither reach them or present the fly naturally, you are not even in the game.”
Obviously there is some truth in those her fine words.
Being able to cast proper distances brings in some fine advantages:
- One can cover more water and may catch a fish, that doesn‘t come any closer all day long.
- It’s fun trying to hook a fish on the beginning of retrieving a long cast.
- Sight-fishing and one may get a second chance of repositioning the fly before the fast moving fish for example runs into the boat.
- Being able to cast long one usually has an improved control on short to medium distances as well.
BUT there is also another side of being able to shoot extra long casts. A high percentage of fly fishermen I watched fishing, started right away by presenting their flies on their longest possible distances.
Instead presenting our flies on short (and only short) distances often means:
- More of a chance to see both the fish and the fly and thus making it possible to set the hook right in the perfect moment.
- Setting the hook on short distances often is easier (less damping).
- Less resistance (less line mass + less friction line-water) for the fish to overcome in order to have us feeling the take.
- Less time lag between the take and us feeling the fish on the hook. Thus a better chance to set the hook.
- Less of a risk to overline and spook many excellent fish.
- Less line speed needed to hit the target = less of a risk to bump down the line too hard.
- When sight-fishing positioning the fly and only the fly precisely to the fish gets easier.
- Less risky to stay in the line or getting tangles when a big fish hooked near the end of a long retrieve runs off. Simply less line to take care of.
- More control over one’s casting = less risk of knots in the leader.
- When streamer fishing slight drop offs less of a chance for followers, but having the fish strongly take the fly in the more shallow water. Most fish usually take the fly much more aggressive in shallow water instead of refusing it in the deeper water. So it often is worth waiting a little longer for the fish to cruise in!
Now, of course I am not trying to keep you from improving your fly casting skills. In fact it's exactly opposite. All I am pointing out is, that especially when aiming to catch the one big fish or many fish, it can be very wise to first of all fish the short range distance for a while. Before maybe offering a few long casts.
It took me 25 years to really learn that. It was one of the hardest keys to learn for me. Oh, and it was one of the most important keys to learn especially for catching the smart fish.
Hopefully I could offer you a bit of a different view when you enter any (big) water next time. Be sure many fish often move around and sooner or later may enter your short range (excellent controlled) presentations. And who knows maybe you'll hook your fish of a lifetime just in front of your feet right on the first cast. Because the first cast is always the best cast!
Great week to all of you!
All my best
Some teaching and lots of fishing during the past days...