Fly Fishing- The No Casters

By Aitor Coterón

follows is an article i’ve always found interesting. written a few years back,  Aitor’s opinions reflect the condition in Spain but we’ll find that it still applies just about anywhere.

” Charles Ritz defined time ago three basic types of fly anglers: conscious casters, non-conscious casters and non-interested casters. Had Mr. Ritz been still alive he could discover by himself that he had missed another kind: those that not only say that perfecting your fly casting is useless, but make every effort to discredit and insult those who believe and do just the opposite. The number of these individuals is really small -as small, by the way, as the number of anglers really interested in fly casting but they are determined to try to destroy what they don’t like. Their arguments are basically two:

Firstly, that good fly casting technique, including a good repertoire of presentation casts, is not only completely useless for getting good fishing results, more than that, the best casters are, without exception, very poor anglers -don’t worry Paul, I won’t tell anybody 🙂

More than 30 years ago, in Spain there were just a handful of anglers fishing with fly-rod and fly-line. At that time, fly fishing was synonymous of coq de Leon wet flies and a bubble float. And that was the kind of fishing that my grandpa and his fishing buddy taught to me. However I knew that there was another technique; I don’t remember when or where I had discovered it, probably on an old issue of “Field & Stream” that I inexplicably found (as my father wasn’t a fisherman) in my father’s library. That technique fascinated me, so I was talking to my grandpa about it day in day out. It was then that I discovered that he even had a fibreglass fly rod and a fly reel (some gift, I suppose), so I was delighted expecting that I was just about to discover a new world. But it turned out that the discovery should wait some more years yet: my grandfather did his best to dissuade me of trying to learn the “new” technique, and his discouragement and the lack of information ended up frustrating my expectations.

“Fly fishing is good for American rivers, it doesn’t work on our streams”, that was my grandfather’s version of the present motto “fly casting is unnecessary”. Traditionalism rejecting new ideas is no wonder though, of course, it doesn’t prevent that fly fishing was as universally effective as fly casting is one (not the only one) of the pillars of fishing with fly rod and line.

Secondly, the anti-casting crusade repeats (as an incontrovertible proof of his first point and assuming that those who win fishing championships are better anglers than everybody else) that competition fly fishers don’t give a damn about fly casting. It’s no wonder that when you are Czech nymphing, fly casting technique is no use -even fly fishing gear is a hindrance: there are more suitable kinds of tackle for fishing more effectively a nymph under the rod tip- but when using other fishing techniques fly casting is essential. Those competitors than don’t rely exclusively on Czech nymphing are aware of the fact that presentation and good casting are intimately related and, when fishing still waters from the bank, the ability to cast far can be a determining factor.

Last week a Spanish competitor, Jonathan Torralbo, won second place in the Fly Fishing World Championship held in Portugal (congratulations for him). Jonathan is a good distance caster and eager to improve, so recently he has been perfecting his technique with Alejandro, the master of Spanish distance casting.

So, competition fly fishers don’t give a damn about fly casting? It seems that -as the Spanish saying goes- some people are more papists than the Pope himself.
Of course, everybody is free of sustaining those arguments against the fly casting practice, but nobody is entitled to defend his points calumniating and twisting his opponent’s arguments. That attitude gets outside the field of fly fishing debate and gets into the area of psychology.


26 thoughts on “Fly Fishing- The No Casters

  1. intersting point indeed,but not entirely correct in many respects me think. Casting affisciados often overpowered the importance of ‘proper’ casting reaching at the domeign of the good presentation which is the thing what matters. Even the great GEM Skues had a funny anecdotes in his books about casting nerds going beyong what is practical in fly fishing. As regrad of insults and discreditation – it comes and goes from both direction – casters to not-believers-in-casting and vise versa. I think that the roots of this debate comes from the popularity of the upstream dry fly purist Halford and the way the weightless dry fly could be fished – with the help of a fly line. But when you have to fish with weighted nymphs/streamers the need of a fly line is debatable and sometimes even not desirable. So to put it short – there is no need and its not good to fish the nymph in the manner of a 100 years old dry fly purist, a la upstream dry fly fishing. Skues being an gentleman and extreamly tolerant person even wrote as a dedication of one of his books – “to my friend the dry fly man” even when the followers of the dry fly cult at the time werent that tolerable to him promoting fishing the nymph but even he was fishing the nymph a la dry fly manner.

  2. but ‘proper’ casting is all about good presentation, Alex !

    it’s a well known fact that you prefer lobbing heavy flies instead of casting them with a fly line but i wouldn’t believe you for a second if you told me that you didn’t work on improving your lobbing techniques. see ? whether you like it or not you’re still practicing your casting/presentation skills.
    please remember that lobbing nymphs or even dries near the rod tip for trout and grayling is only a very small part of the vast world of fly fishing…
    how would you present a fly to a bonefish, pike, trout or whatever 20 meters away without casting the fly line ?

    btw, what century are you living in ? 😛

  3. now you are at the fair point Marc! Fly line casting is needed when you fish specific situations/fish. But in the world of clsassic fly fishing – I mean when we are after river trout the fly line is far too often an obstacle – I know a Italian guy who uses a long 5m+ leader even for fishing dry fly which leads me to belive that the leader is the most important piece of tackle in FF 🙂 BTW I only rarely fish the czech nymph method for wild brown trout, there are better ways Marc. And I dont interprete casting as = presentation , casting is only one part of the bigger whole of what presentation is. I think Lefty wrote it in Presentations and I agree:)

    • Lefty ?! no wonder you’re so confused ! :mrgreen:
      i don’t agree with anything that Kreh has to say…

      a leader is just the continuation of a fly line with similar specific mass distribution, which explains it’s different diameters and lengths. 😉

  4. you are wrong about Lefty Marc, he is a wise man, he was aware of czech nymph, french nymph, no fly line fly fishing many years before the fly fishing competitions…and he is a no nonsence promoter of the sport:)

  5. Quite a thought provoking read that Marc!

    I’ve met all of the above mentioned individuals; the casting for casting sake individual, the one that discredits every cast etc. I suppose from a coaching point of view, we have to deal with a lot of individuals who might or might not see the benefit of learning a new techniques or casts. Ultimately what we’re trying to do is enhance their skills with the tools that they have. Much as a skilled sculptor can turn a rough piece of marble into a classic work of art, a tyro can change it into a misshapened lump of rock.

    I think it’s as much about education as it is about teaching the (whichever) cast. In the past 12 months I’ve taught several anglers a whole host of Spey casts with double handed rods. I got the usual, that’s flashy! Why do you need to do that! That’s not necessary! Which all just went to demonstrate their fear of learning/failure. Who knows what hangups people have today.

    However, taking them to an uncomfortable position on a local river and pointing out some feeding fish, I asked them to make a cast. They couldn’t because there was no back cast area! After demonstrating some spey casts and covering the fish, the attitude soon changed.

    I suppose really, what you need is different tools in your toolbox to cater for different situations. Those that don’t have sufficient tools tend then to miss out on opportunities

  6. i cant comment what Lefty wrote about casting because usually I skip all the casting related pages in the books 🙂 BTW Dobble handed rods and fly lines sounds go well me think, unfortunatly i dont fish local trout waters that call for a DH rod, if i appear on the local trout river with a DH rod someone /esp. a purist type of person/ could have a heart atack from the shock:)

  7. I think non-believers will burn in hell (the third circle, the lower ones being for lurists, baitfishers, dynamite/trawlers, and non-fishers respectively).
    after all, fishes are only a sometimes annoyingly distracting excuse for casting.

  8. yep, gay nymphers are guided by God Himself, they are His hands on the fly fishing Earth , they are fly fishing Saints , dry fly purists and straight line throwers in non real fly fishing situations shall not be accepted to burn even in Hell!!!


  9. WoW Alex ! that reminded me of the good old days of the BBBB club ! 😎

    with that kind of tolerance and outforwardness maybe the frenchie would like to join our club.

  10. only my look is french Marc, yep, i miss the glory days of the early BBBB years of the worlds best fly fishing thread in sexyloops, not to mention the famous No4 rule of our Club visionary Leader!!!

  11. Enjoyed the piece, Marc.
    I’ll just say that there are times when a specialized cast, nothing fancy, because it could be for a fish only 15 feet away, but to make the leader / line land properly to get a drag-free drift – if in fact that is what is called for – is necessary. This requires knowledge of casting including assessment of the current between the rod tip and target zone, and what happens to the fly when / after it hits the water. I once guided a man who was a very good caster. That was it. He could lay the line out 50, 60, 70 feet, but on the big river we were fishing, he could not make a slack line cast that allowed the fly to drift drag-free for more than a few feet. I demonstrated several techniques to get a 20 to 40 foot drift and he still could not do it. He was in the mode of “good casting.” Good casting does not necessarily mean good fishing. But I do believe practicing casting and learning specialized and alternative methods of presenting the fly is important, because there is no question, better casters, in the long term, catch more fish. But good casting can be for naught if they lack knowledge of how to properly present the fly.

    • really glad you liked it Don and thanks ever so much for your comment.
      needless to say, i couldn’t agree more.
      here’s a little quote from Joan Wulff i’ve always liked that goes along perfectly with your view.

      “If you don’t know where the fish lie, but can cast to cover the water with finesse, you are likely to catch fish. If you know where they lie but can neither reach them nor present the fly naturally, you are not even in the game.”

  12. Let me put it this I’d rather work on, and have as good a casting technique, as I can possibly achieve in any given fishing situation. I believe it adds to improve my overall flyfishing technique and confidence (an important factor in flyfishing) whilst on the water. Now maybe on a small technical stream, presentation is more than important than prodigious distances, but get out into the salt and the whole ball game changes.

    Distance, coping with the wind, the ability to cast long and accurate side casts in the mangroves and many other factors become very important in the salt. In fact I would go as far to say that probably the most important investment, before venturing out on a saltwater adventure, is to improve your casting. I have seen a number of would be saltwater flyfisherman have a bit of a torrid time casting when exposed to the salt for the first time. I am unreservedly, and unashamedly, in the “Yes” camp when it comes to flycasting as part of the overall flyfishing experience. The “No” boys don’t know all the fun they are missing 🙂

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