August 31, 2010
I would like to introduce myself as a fly angler, caster and tier. I have spent the better part of 25 years with a fly rod in my hand fishing my home waters in Florida and Montana and traveling to destinations throughout the world. Fly Fisherman has given me the opportunity to contribute to and work with some incredible fly fishing luminaries on a new website and continuously evolving blog. I hope to relive some of my fly fishing experiences, as well as review gear, talk tackle and simply reflect on my passion. I encourage any questions or comments that you may have.
I find it very appropriate that for my first blog, I am going to discuss the importance of the short cast. I've always been an admirer of the dark horse or the little guy. I would consider the close shot to be the "underdog", the often forgotten flick that is overshadowed by the beautiful loop that carries the fly to the far bank of a river or to the barely discernable bonefish at 90 feet away. I regret that I fall victim to the allure of casting far. I love to watch the fly line soar, but I don't like to miss things that are at my doorstep.
Casting short is not as effortless as it may seem. It is difficult to "load" the rod with very little, if any, fly line out of the tip. The cast is a quick flick of the rod tip created by snapping the wrist and activating only the uppermost part of the rod. On visually challenging days, this cast is indispensable. When the clouds are thick, the sun glary or the water dirty, it is often extremely difficult to spot fish at a distance. Presentation is not particularly delicate, but slapping the fly down rapidly with a back handed snap or an overhand slam-dunk and landing it on the fish's dinner plate may result in an instinctive and aggressive bite.
When approaching the water, remember that fish only need enough depth to cover them up and make them feel secure. There is no need to spook nearby fish to shoot long for those holding far way. Start short and catch the steelhead that is hovering just below the lip of a riffle. Let the fly dangle right at the drop off and wait for the grab.
Lastly, learn to appreciate the value of high sticking and dabbing the fly in pocket water. Scrambling around rocks and downed trees, while poking the fly into quick, turbulent water is great fun. It is impossible to cast long in these situations. I like to keep the little bit of line I have stripped off the reel twisted in my hand figure eight style, so it does not wrap around debris and rocks. This makes it easy to crawl around and fish the eddies and white water effectively. If quarters are extremely tight, a bow and arrow cast can bring out the inner Robin Hood in all of us. Why wouldn't you?
There are many fish to be caught at short distances. Pay homage to the short shot. Get out there and catch one up close and personal.