Fly Casting with Laura Palmer


~ Ein Laura Palmer film~ presumably named after everyone’s favourite girl-in-a-bag -at least that’s my guess- well, caught my attention. whether it has to do with an inexplicable interest in like-minded producers what give weird titles to their stuff combined with a good dose of fly casting… i’m happily digressing just to get to this: here’s a really nice, short and sweet video of Wolfgang Heusserer demonstrating an equally nice variety of single-hand spey casts.
Circle-C, Snap-T, Jump Roll/Switch cast, standard roll cast, wiggles and probably fourteen others i missed because i was too busy watching the line being first manipulated, then flying about. all the great presentation skills a river fisher should imo, have down pat.

not a how-to tutorial, this one’s just eye candy. more than the line dancing itself, we’ll notice how effortlessly every action is done. it looks easy and that easy is a sign of someone who’s worked a lot on their skill. i hope you’ll enjoy.

Presentation Casts- DownStream Dry Fly

here’s another great presentation casting tip from Aitor Coteron.

along the lines of Jason Borger‘s downstream presentation ‘Undercut Drop’ (see diagram) and similar in concept as Jim William’s upstream ‘Pull-back-Slack‘, Aitor’s videos show us a super-easy way to get better drag-less drifts.
the common denominator casting-wise is these casts are all based on the same principles and casters of all levels can rejoice because there’s no need to learn and practice any fancy twists, curves, unreliable and wind-dependant tricky piles or wiggles either during-or-after-the-cast movements.
the bonus here is these casts are real, effective fishing casts of great value to any fisher: bread and butter stuff we can consistently rely on and not some iffy maybe-may or maybe-not presentation. in other words, the simpler the better.
everyone who knows me knows how much i love fiddly, curvy casts. outside of the fun factor, i firmly believe it make us better casters because we need to get creative and try to deal with several exterior elements like wind or body movement inconsistencies or whatever else you’d care to add but as more time goes by i try to get the same results in simpler, more easily repeatable manners and today’s videos are super-fine examples of just that kind of practical/effective reductionism.

Jason Borger ffw-undercutdrop

with either one we’ll want to:
– cast directly in line with the current. this is the key to making these casts work and means the angler needs to position themselves in the seam or just to the side of the lane to be fished prior to presenting.
in river fishing we’ll almost always have micro currents to deal with but the big nasty drag issues happen when we have to cast across conflicting currents and the most difficult part of dealing with drag is eliminated, or at least greatly reduced when the fly line and current seam are the same. it just makes sense.
– as previously mentioned, cast straight to the target and the best part about that is just about any fly angler already has that skill down pat. the only thing to keep in mind and as in any other slack line cast, we’ll need to plan the use of more line than when presenting ‘straight to the rise’.
– last somewhat denominator (but i’ll still put them in the same cast family because all rod tip mend movements are basically vertical) is all three casts require either keeping the rod tip high, where it stopped at the ‘stop’, (Jason’s Drop), or drop the rod tip (Jim’s Drop and Pull-Back) or Zeljko’s ‘Drag-Back’ after the ‘stop’ and before line touch-down.

“Very conflicting currents, like those shown here, are a killer for fishing the dry fly with an upstream presentation. Using a downstream approach (when conditions allow it) leads to incredibly long drag-free drifts. Master fly fisher Zeljko Prpic shows how to do it right.” and he sure does… enjoy !


and a variant with the very same ‘in-the-seam’ presentation as above but using a reach mend, rather handy when getting into the seam is difficult to wade to or off of the bank.
one last thing, the video says dry fly but this’ll work just as well with whatever fly you have tied on, wet, nymph or dry.

ps- Jason’s blog Fish, Flies and Water is currently under reconstruction but be sure to check it out regularly if you don’t want to miss out on the good stuff and, if you’re not familiar with Aitor’s blog One More Last Cast, you should be…

Fly Casting- Santa’s Underpowered Curve

if like most people you’ve always wondered what Santa Carlos (Azpilicueta) looks like when he’s fly casting here you go.SantaCarlos' Underpowered 180° Curve

often referred to as a good upstream presentation cast, the Underpowered Curve goes directly to the bottom of my list of actual casts to use. even if the final line layout seems really good from a theoretical point of view we’re throwing a whole lot of line directly over the fish whilst false casting and at final presentation and we’re left with an enormous, even ridiculous amount of slack to attempt to tighten up if we didn’t put off the fish and managed to get a strike. if we don’t get a strike, the whole leader and all that line will pass over the fish on its way back downstream before we can pick up and cast again and if that doesn’t put off the fish then its a really dumb fish not worthy of being caught !
accuracy wise, its also probably the most difficult cast to get just right in any repeatable manner even in ‘ideal’ conditions. any kind of wind severely compromises its success. in a sense, its one to keep in your bag of tricks as a last-resort presentation. at best.

none of that sounds very good, right ? but here’s the but and the however: just as with the underpowered Controlling Casting Stroke Force (please read or reread as both articles are directly connected), the Underpowered Curve is a more than excellent manner to learn to use the correct amount of force in your other casts. just as with the overhead version: “practising to cast lines that don’t turn over completely and ‘relearning’ to add a little more force, just what’s necessary to get the job done as we go along. this is an additive method. we start with ‘not enough’ and add-on little by little until it’s’just right’.  it’s quite easy to control because adding-on seems to correspond better to human nature than subtracting; we tend to ‘want more’ as opposed to ‘want less’ is equally valid and productive and might even be considered as the next step, or part II of the overhead drill as it’s trickier.
we need to adopt a slower casting rhythm while casting off to the side in a lower plane all the while keeping line, leader and fluff from hitting the ground. on the delivery cast, the underpowered bit needs to be controlled very precisely. although we can’t push strings or in this case fly lines and this will get the physics geeks tsk-tssssking, it helps to think of it as if we where pushing the rod leg only. (i know, that might be a weird way to visualise the motion but it works for me and hopefully for you too)

as in the gif, don’t forget to ‘kill the cast’ by immediately lowering the rod tip to prevent loop unrolling. be sure to try the exact same cast with and without lowering the rod tip to see how it greatly affects line layout/turnover.
lastly, similar to the overhead drill, the Underpowered Curve also teaches an important aspect that’s rarely brought up; varying the casting force between the back cast and the front cast (or vice-versa). a typical but non-conclusive example of this casting force variance would be when fishing with a strong tail wind. we’ll need  to have a higher line speed on the BC going into the wind, requiring more force and a greater casting arc and less speed, force and arc on the FC where the wind will help push it out.

since practicing without any kind of target is generally pointless, as with the overhead drill, place little targets or reindeer here and there in front of you and place the unrolled loop over them.
even if it’s just a few minutes, do yourself the favour of including both drills every time you’re out practicing. these are seemingly strange and quirky things to do but they really pay off. i guarantee.
whether or not you decide to don the Santa suit is up to you but keep in mind that it would make the occasion that much more special.

video graciously provided by Carlos Azpilicueta. thanks buddy !

post note- i’ve always wondered what the person strolling by in the background of the gif was thinking as they saw this…

Fly Casting Practice- Controlling Casting Stroke Force

experience tells me that apart from improper wrist control, the second most common difficulty many fly casters struggle with is force application throughout the stroke and to be more precise, they use too much force. way too much.

there are several ways to create tailing loops and they all have to do with the rod tip rising after dipping below the standard straight or slightly convex tip path in one manner or another but i’m firmly convinced as well as many of my instructor colleagues that the main cause is improper; too early or too much force application and often both are combined.
leaving aside for the moment that rod rotation (where most of the force is applied and the rod tip is going its fastest) should be done at the end of the stroke, today’s casting drill tip is about force quantity and to understand the point of the topic i’ll ask you to consider these two questions:
1) how many times have you seen a fellow angler drive their fly into the water surface (when that wasn’t the intended presentation) or make tailing loops or have the fly kick back or hook to one angle or another before landing ?
2) how many times have you seen a fellow angler cast a pile at the end of the line when they wanted a straight presentation ?
i’ll be very generous with no. 2 and give it an approximate 10%. even if that approximation is just a roundabout figure its quite obvious that there’s an overall higher tendency leaning towards the ‘more than necessary/too much’.

now, there are two methods to adjust how much force is being used:
– the first is the standard ‘do your normal cast’ and try to apply less force until its all nice and smooth with super control.
this a subtractive method. it may work and there’s nothing wrong with it but its a hard way as its much more difficult to ‘hold back’ and ‘unlearn’ an engrained movement, specially when its something we’ve been doing for a long time.
– the other method consists of doing the exact opposite, practising to cast lines that don’t turn over completely and ‘relearning’ to add a little more force, just what’s necessary to get the job done as we go along.
this is an additive method. one that’s quite easy to control because adding-on seems to correspond better to human nature than subtracting; we tend to ‘want more’ as opposed to ‘want less’ and its a method that works very well for people of all levels in all the various types of fly casting whether it be close/middle/long range, stream to sea, little to big flies and single or double handed.

since years ago i had been working on an almost exactly the same presentation cast -the Dunkeld Dump– (named after the city in Scotland where i first demonstrated this cast to a group of fellow casting geeks) and of course using it a lot for river fishing but it was only last year that i realised what a gem this was as a practice routine on its own when friend, colleague and super-caster Aitor Coteron wrote this article that set off so many lightbulbs: To straighten or not to straighten. That is the question.

here’s a slightly different full-on angle of this drill from one of last year’s casting-geek meets in Spain.

to conclude, just as mentioned in the link, i highly recommend doing this exercise at every practise session, preferably at the beginning.
to add some variety and improve one’s force control while still working on accuracy, a great thing to do is place cones, tennis balls or whatever at different distances, even in a zig-zag formation and place the piles on the targets in sequence. dump and enjoy !


Fly Casting- The next Level ?

as the Advanced Fly Casting Demonstration title alludes to, is this advanced casting or not ? well, yes and no. let’s start with the no.

the no-casters will be quick to point out that all this fiddly-fancy rod waving is completely unnecessary; its just ‘trick casting’ to impress the peanut gallery which would probably scare off fish anyhow.
fine. assuming that the angler has decent control of their rod/line/leader/fly combo and can place the fly to the intended target with reasonable regularity, then that’s probably good enough for them. after all, a good chocolate cake doesn’t really need a scoop of ice cream or sauce to make the cake any better does it ?

well, i’m the kind that likes good ice cream and good sauce on good chocolate cake. they enhance the experience, offer a variety of tastes with the overall result of having a more complete dessert. ditto for fly casting.
now, i know very well that all this extra fiddly-fancy rod waving in itself isn’t going to lead to any more landed fish and to be honest, i’ll refrain from doing all this excessive stuff when actually fishing but !, its all going to make me a more efficient caster if i know how to do it at practice time plus, its a lot of fun and fun makes casting sessions a lot more productive than doing simple, basic movements over and over again.
but why ? casting as Klaus displays in the video needs a highly developed sense of spacial and temporal awareness and the ability to act/move very precisely on several planes in sequence with different rhythms and speeds all the while controlling varying degrees of slack in the line. in real-world situations, these capabilities allow the caster to improvise in real time, a little plus considering all the continually changing variables that happen when we fish.
this is hard-core multi-dimensional traverse wave casting and one that needs visualisation before and during the casts to not mess up ! very much akin to Zen-like activities, in a sense, movement needs to happen before thought or maybe more precisely, movements need to happen based on pre-visualisation and not a more ‘traditional’ step-by-step as-it-happens method. i don’t know if that makes sense but i can’t find a better way to describe it with words.

so, is this Advanced Fly Casting ? you bet ! but when/if acquired, we can consider it a hidden skill set that pops up when needed most, when situations get tricky and we still want to stay in the game while pleasing one’s self and not the peanut gallery. whether we chose or not to get to this level is a personal choice and most definitely non-necessary. at worst its eye candy but its a lovely candy that won’t make us fat like the ice cream, sauce and cake… enjoy !

Fly Casting- Pussy Galore and thoughts on Presentation Cast Accuracy

just the other day, a student asked me a very interesting question (and the kind i love to hear !):
“How can we be dead-on accurate when doing slack-line presentation casts ?”
well, the simple answer is we can’t, or at least not with any predictable consistency the competent caster might have when using straight-line presentations.

to further the simple answer, the reason we can’t be as consistent is that a line with slack in it isn’t under tension and therefore the caster isn’t completely in control of it no matter how experienced she/he might be.
the conundrum of this situation is:
– at all times we want to be as accurate as possible. if we can’t place the fly in a manner that will entice a fish we’re simply not fishing and if we do manage to hook up its just a matter of luck, not one based on our skills.
– including slack in our presentations, although not always necessary, is a fantastic way to catch a lot more fish. it’s that dead-drift thing with ummm, a turbo. sort of.
– any kind of wind from any direction severely compromises the outcome of any slack line presentation. the line/leader/fly gets pushed or pulled from the intended target.
– those are just a few examples but the sum of them mean we’re working in an unfavourable situation even if we have faith in our abilities.

however ! as bleak and hopeless as some of that may sound its really not hopeless at all, it just takes a little determination and maybe a lot of practice.
here’s an example filmed at least five years ago starring Pussy Galore !
a little info before the film.
– the idea here was to present the fluff in front of her cute little nose, upstream of the trout as it where.
– second goal was to try to entice her by using a ridiculously long, superfluous length of line to attempt this. once stretched out straight, the fluff might have fallen a bit short of the yellow ring in the background, that’s about twice the length from my feet to PG. i would never fish this way with so much slack mainly because its unproductive and pointless but the idea was to push the limits and see how much line control i could still manage even at this short range.

– out of nine casts, six where ‘probable’ takes (had that been a feeding fish and not some over-exherted cat that had been chasing fluff for the last hour), the others fell short or behind her head.

i used to do this kind of exercise all the time, basically every day. i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t get anywhere near six ‘probables’ today because i haven’t practiced this in a long time and that leads to the last part of the simple answer which connects to a saying i like to mindlessly repeat: practice doesn’t make perfect but it makes better, and this better and not perfection is the goal with real-fishing-situation presentation casts.
all we can do is assess the casting/fishing situation of the moment the best we can, adapt to it and put the fluff in front of PG’s cute little nose because we’ve worked a lot on our ca(s)ts while nevertheless accepting that the chances of success are reduced. besides, it makes the catch that much more worthwhile and memorable when i works.

fun and games

a little bent-over from my recent trip last June in Malaysia.  following our casting demos where a whole slew of casting games to keep the attendees entertained while waiting out the thunderstorm.
this one’s rules where easy: feet behind the first plate, curve the line around the blue basket and place the yarn leader tip on the plate to the right in three tries.
just as in real-life fishing, nobody told me i had stand up. we do what we have to to try to get the job done…


image via Juan Wei and SportFishin.Asia