For those of you that have not seen it yet, we just started a podcast! It was great to see a conversation uniting anglers from all around the world. We had listeners from Canada to Australia, back to Scotland, across to Denmark and even people tuned in from 200 yards down the street.
One of the topics that was brought up by a listener was “have we turned into a nation of casters rather than fishers?” It really got a good debate going and I have thought about it quite a bit since. I have seen it myself from being out there on the water where anglers are constantly striving to hit the far side of the pool. For some reason we all have this notion that the fish are holding tight to the far bank, funnily enough, the anglers fishing the far side of the river think the same, aiming every cast as close as possible to your feet.
Fly lines went through a huge transformation in the last fifteen years, every possible factor being improved on to make sure you add that extra yard to every cast. But the pools and fish stayed the same. We all got so caught up in the casting that sometimes a day on the water seemed to be more about the casting than the fishing. Im not pointing fingers, I was there myself. I think that’s why I really enjoyed fly fishing, even when the fishing was not productive I could mess around with the line and see what happened when I did certain things to the rod. I have spent countless days (not hours) casting on grass, the neighbours don’t even consider me as being crazy anymore when I'm standing out there in the rain, even completed my casting qualifications to somehow validate to myself that I was a good fisherman, how naive could you get!
With my Skagit switch scandi slicer lines I thought I was the new John West! I can remember my first efforts at snap t’s, c’s and everything in between. They looked cool! Hey I could remember how good it felt when you got them right, watching that big ring peeling around me as I made the swing into my back cast, I even remember the first day I showed it to my dad on the river, he thought it was a unique way of casting, I said I saw it on youtube, that generation didn’t know youtube existed then. That was the last day of a season on a flooded out river. Fast forward to a new season and we were fishing for springers in the tail end of a quiet pool, I was doing my new cast (snap-t), my dad had finished and came up the bank to watch me fishing the rest of the pool and even record me fishing it out. I can remember us both watching that video the same night at the house and him commenting about the disturbance that the cast made, I was upset and enlightened at the same time, I had spent all winter practicing that, it looked cool, even felt cool, but when he said “I was probably scaring every fish in the pool” I could only agree, he had always preached river craft and stealth, it always paid off!
So that was it, the last sustained anchor cast I ever made whilst fishing, for some reason you have to do them when doing a casting exam! The first year I had the opportunity to fish in Gaspé (the worlds clearest salmon rivers) I also witnessed the effect these casts had on salmon. We saw another group of anglers using skagits and water Bourne casts, the only words I can think of to convey what that rip across the water was like would be to compare it to a camera fish going off underwater. Bye bye salmon.
Again getting back to that point about us turning into a nation of casters over fishermen. In my opinion being able to cast makes you a better fisherman, it gives you possibilities, lets you fish places others can’t get into, thats the places I look out for when I get a day on the water. But in order to add a bit of value to your fishing for reading this blog I want to offer this advice. We all need to drop the ego, the idea that we need to cast to the far side and it needs to look impressive to everyone else needs to be forgotten. If you can get that leader turning over and the fly fishing from the moment it touches the water then that is a good cast! If it means you reel in five yards of your cast to make that happen then please, reel in those five yards, fish comfortably and efficiently.
So what casts do I use when I go fishing? My absolute favourite is an overhead cast, nothing is as delicate and precise. When teaching clients I tell them to learn to single spey cast and snake roll cast off both their left and right sides, touch and go casts that kiss the water and the fish don’t even know you are there. If you can do these three casts from both shoulders then there are no rivers or conditions in the world you cannot fish. One final fishing cast I use more and more, especially when I am fishing sunk lines is a “corkscrew.” I first saw this at the Mortensen seminars we hosted here several Years ago. Since then I don’t think I have went a day on the water without using it. It lets you fish every inch of water and allows massive changes of direction to target the lies in different ways.