The mark of a good fly caster is the ability to adapt to the situation at hand. There is no one ‘perfect’ casting style for the infinite situations one could encounter on the water. Therefore, it is helpful to learn more than one casting style in order to be as versatile as possible.
One such style is simply dropping the plane of the cast to the side on both the forward and back casts, thus casting in a more ‘sidearm’ manner. All casting fundamentals remain the same (smooth acceleration, coming to an abrupt stop, with a straight line path of the rod tip), the only difference being the rod is canted further out to the side.
Casting ‘sidearm’ can be extremely useful on the flats, and is a great tool to have in your bag when the situation arises. There are several benefits to casting off of a more ‘sidearm’ plane, particularly when fishing for bonefish, three of which we’ve listed below.
- Softer Presentations. When fishing for spooky bonefish, the ability to land the fly as delicately as possible can make all the difference. By casting off of a more horizontal plane (i.e. sidearm), the energy of your loop is able to unroll horizontally above the surface of the water, as opposed to driving the fly directly into the water as it unrolls as if casting directly over the top.
- Less Rod ‘Flash.’ If you’ve fished for bonefish long enough, you’ve probably noticed while fishing to especially wary bonefish that sometimes even the movement of your rod can spook fish. By casting off of a more horizontal plane, you’re able to reduce your silhouette visible to the fish, thus decreasing your chances of spooking fish.
- Better in the Wind. It’s no secret, but adjusting your stroke to a more sidearm plane is a great to deal with strong head wind. There’s less wind at the surface of the water than there is 9 feet above you and changing your rod angle is a great way to compensate.
The next time you’re practicing your cast (and we hope that you are), try changing planes.. It might come in handy!