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.

brainwashem’ young- two Things, a backyard and what fly casting practice should be:

Fun !

“What a bad parent I am, not actually teaching him to cast. He tells me he knows that already, so I just leave the rod propped up by the back door and leave him to it. I must say I’m impressed with how his haul is coming along.” poppa Stu Hastie

i wish all bad parents where this bad…

one of the more important aspects in sharing our passion is to know when to back off and let them go nuts on their own and simply enjoy the moment. our egos might not always agree but they’ll often learn a lot more this way.
from an instructor/observational/behavioral point of view, of special interest here is when the younger brother ‘becomes the fish’. Thing 1 immediately becomes more focused and calm and delivers the fly exactly where he wants it to go while directing all his attention towards his fishbrother.
my guess is it’s our predator instinct that takes over even when it’s not a prey, something that was very obvious and consistent when i practiced casting with Pussy Galore.

we’d already seen the exploits of Thing 1 and Thing 3, here they are for the first time on video. enjoy  !

Small Stream Tactics podcast for Flugfiskeradion

a while ago Jesper Hultqvist of Sweden’s Flugfiskeradion (Fly Fishing Radio) invited me to do a podcast for his site and when asked what topic i would consider, small stream tactics came to mind first as this has been a somewhat obsession of mine in the last ten or so years. the podcast explains the whys and hows pretty well so i won’t dwell too much here.
of course i had prepared notes before the interview and of course i forgot to use them… so, even if it is mentioned at the end i’ll restate here why this type of fly fishing is so close to my heart: Intimacy 
intimacy by necessity but also by choice. these confined environments force us to think and act on a much smaller scale than what we might be used to. every movement has it’s consequence so every movement needs planning. it’s exhausting but it’s a wonderful exhaustion.

  <— Click Here !

yes, the introduction is in swedish but don’t let that scare you off ! it all switches over to english in about 30 seconds.
54 minutes long, you can either listen to it directly on the site or download the MP3 and listen wherever you want. (i highly recommend doing this at work !)
i do hope you enjoy this and hopefully if you’re not already a small stream fan you’ll get inspired to go fish these lovely, magical little waters so full of unexpected treasures.

tractor casting

one day i came home and there was this tractor parked on the lawn in front of the house something like four meters from the window behind my desk.
always one to take advantage of the little unexpected casting opportunities life brings, i quickly grabbed the practice rod in a “you never know when this particular skill might come in handy !” mood and climbed up on the filthy thing and started playing with my puss.

getting in a quasireal situational context is very important when practicing casts. with that in mind, i was standing on a rock facing ‘upstream’ and casting to Pussy Galore hiding behind the blade to the left. (just behind the yellow fluff that’s just above the ground and about to land), and the idea was to get the fluff to ‘drift’ to her lair, letting the grass current deliver the fluff while the rest of the line was upstream and hopefully out of view of the furry fish. mostly adapted to very close-up fishing, i’ve caught many a fish in the tiny, enclosed by vegetation Pyrenean feeder streams with this presentation.

this cast is a Snap-Back Curve that basically creates a or more precisely, ɾ uʍop-ǝpısdn uɐ when seen from above.
the vertical snap doesn’t show in the image because the rod tip was brought down earlier in the sequence, however what’s interesting is we can see the horizontal, ‘sharp-edged, squared-off sideways U’ path of the rod tip needed to separate the two legs of line to get the ∩ shaped layout. not very clear even though it’s fluorescent red Amnesia, the curved around leader can be seen coming from the viewers direction going towards the fluff.

the same line configuration is often performed by casting an Under-Powered Curve: a side cast followed by greatly under-powering the forward cast so that the loop doesn’t straighten out, also resulting in an inverted U or J shape. the UPC is fun to do but it’s a little tricky to get right and any kind of accuracy with any kind of consistency, specially if there’s any wind usually falls into the realm of wishful thinking.
compared to the Snap-Back Curve its not really a ‘meat & potatoes’ cast, isn’t sexy and it doesn’t involve tractors. i’ll pass.

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.