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.

a little help from our little friends

everyone knows that flies that have already caught a few fish catch more than those that haven’t. it could be about residual pheromones or some other attack-attracting properties left over from residual fish slime or who knows what but more than anything else i believe what really attracts fish are things that have been pre-munched.
‘ Who has munched will munch again’ and ‘Once munched, twice munched’ might just be the operating words in the semi-microscopic brains of our slimy friends. maybe.
though secretive in these matters, my friend Tobbe Hedin seems to be of the same opinion and has even trained his cat to give his flies this vital ‘pre-munched Mojo’ !

and to prove that this isn’t a fabricated Cobra-Fantasy and that there’s a true munching pattern, here’s Tobbe’s logo for his TH’s Flies & Fishing For Silver site.

be sure to visit his site and check out his awesome Scandi-Style salmon tube flies.

Fly Casting- Bucket Ca(s)t

this is my special casting friend, Pussy Galore.

some people don’t like cats and for the life of me i can’t figure that one out.
they’re soft and furry, they catch mouses that might come into your house and steal your cheese. they don’t smell, they don’t bark, they act silly and are part of a select group of superior beings simply because they won’t do anything that they don’t feel like doing.

anyhow, i’m not going to try to convince anyone that they should get a cat to practice fly casting (although you obviously should… ) so i’ll just tell you about the fun that the two of us have when out around the house. bonus is that it’s not just about fun but also improving our casting and fishing skills.

PG loves this game and as soon as she sees me pick up a rod, eagerly comes trotting outside. a few purrs and squeaks later, and she’s all psyched-up for playing.
cats just can’t resist playing with fluffy things and lines and since we’re dealing with fluff and flylines, it all falls into place. see ?

alright now, so what’s so special about practicing with a cat ?
well, cats are a lot more interesting than the usual target ring or beer can.
they have personalities and whims. rings and cans are just stupid and lay there.
cats move. they go in places where no beer can would dare to.

this is very interesting for us because when Pussy goes underneath the car or on the other side of a bush or anywhere else around our little place in the woods, these areas represent what become to us stream-side, often hard to reach places to present our flies to properly. seems to me that it’s pretty rare to find good fishing spots that aren’t filled with obstacles of some sort, so the more we learn to deal with these obstacles, the better fishermen we will be.

cats try to catch the fluff both on the ground and in the air.

rings have a very hard time doing this. cats don’t.

you can even practice striking as with a fish but you’ll have to do it ‘backwards’. that is, the idea is to not let the cat catch the fluff but on the contrary, snatch it out of its paws before they start chewing on it.
they’re very fast and you have to be even faster.
funny thing is that before they can chew away at the fluff they first have to catch it with their paws, so it’s trapped between the ground and their cute little feet.
to chew it the paw needs to be lifted and if there’s tension on the line, it pops away.
cats rarely smile, and here’s one occasion where they most definitely don’t.
this is a very good way to practice striking in different manners.
the usual rod lift, but also the strip-strike, rolly-pully, scissor strike, rolls and snaps all find their usefulness here and since practice makes better, it all leads to more hook-ups when on the water.
by the way, once in a while it’s a good thing to let them ‘win’ so as not to hurt their feelings.

cats, if you look at them in the right way can actually turn into black furry trouts. just like trout (or whatever other fish), it’s best to approach and cast to them when they aren’t looking your way. so when she turns around to check out something that only cats can see, it’s a good time to practice fancy presentation casts that get the fluff to her attention without lining her.
lining a fish/cat means putting the line or leader over the cat/fish. this scares fish and is one of the best ways to put them down.
cats aren’t as easily spooked as fish but you’ll definitely see a reaction of some sort because you’ll be disturbing their ‘special moment’.
rings and cans are rather indifferent to being lined. not much to learn from them in this regard.

again, just like what we try to achieve on the water, we can do with the house fur-ball and without getting our feet wet.
cats are smaller than rings but bigger than beer cans. this means that you need to be more accurate than with rings. nobody really casts at beer cans so lets just forget i ever mentioned them in the first place…

it’s fun to try to put the leader between her ears or placing the fluff on her head. she thinks it’s a bug or something and twitches her ears. it’s funny.

so what does the cat get out of this ? hard to tell, a little exercise i guess, and that’s all good for a ten year old Puss. one thing’s for sure, she always comes back for more so i just can’t believe that there isn’t a fun element somewhere in there for her as well. after all, fluff isn’t very nutritious, not even to a whacky cat. you can be creative when it comes to the kind of fluff you use on the end of your leader. this is the special ‘high-adrenalin’ fly.

post note- this piece was written several years ago and PG has since gone to kitty heaven. i like to think she’s chasing angelfluff mouses.