Good casts feel good, but good presentations catch fish and today Alaska West guide, Greg Houska, is coming at us with a great writeup on how saving the less-than-perfect cast can help you catch more fish in the long run.
Turning ‘Bad’ Casts into Great Presentations
Not every cast is perfect, and you should never expect them all to be. We say it all the time, and the fact remains, “A fly in the air catches no fish.” An important step of improving one’s angling abilities is optimizing each cast to make it as efficient as possible, thus keeping the fly in the water as much as possible. One way to do this is by saving those ‘bad’ casts we all make, and turning them into casts that are still presentable to fish.
I began this process a few years back on the Gunnison River in Western Colorado when I began fishing foam hopper patterns from a boat. Trying to sneak a cast under an undercut bank often led to ‘hang-ups’ on the shore. After a while I started to realize that many of these ‘hang-ups’ could be given a small strip, mend, or simply a few seconds and they would end up falling into the water (usually within a few inches of where the ideal cast would have landed). However, by immediately trying to re-cast from a ‘hang-up’ I found myself losing a lot more flies, or even worse, missing a prime pocket of water. Now fast forward to the Kanektok River here in wester Alaska, where mousing and stripping sculpins for trout requires weaving a cast through gaps in snags or branches. The concept stays the same.
Another ‘savable bad cast’ scenario that guides are all too familiar with lies in the realm of swinging flies. Many anglers spend too much time stripping line in after a shorter-than-intended cast, or a cast that does anything but lay out beautifully. Remember, if the fly is in the water, you’ve got a shot, so if you can save your swing with a little line management, fish it out!
When working through a run, most of us want to hit the far bank cast after cast, hoping to cover as much water as possible. Chances are, you’re not that consistent (neither am I) and short casts happen. My suggestion for facing the inevitable short cast is to mend it to desired depth, and swing it through like normal without stepping because, let’s face it, short casts catch fish. After an occasional short swing hopefully you return to your normal casting stroke and continue working your run with your regular effectiveness.
In summary, we all make ‘bad’ casts from time to time and:
- Trying to turn a bad cast into an efficient presentation will improve your angling abilities and probably your daily catch.
- You can save casts that get ‘hung up’ on the bank or in branches, often turning them into the best presentation possible.
- Effective mending can save more casts than most realize.
- Short casts can still swing effectively.. Fish them out!
With all that said, some casts require too much time and effort to transform into an effective swing or drift. If the amount of time required to salvage a cast is equivalent to picking it up and chucking it back out there, it’s probably best to strip in and make another. Use your discrepancy.