• The only sound to break the metallic silence was the air shimmering and whispering, en route to the sea or some other oblivion.
     ~Cormac M. Yelping With Cormac

Fly Casting REV Challenge: #4

May 15, 2015

Good Casting Form: Don’t Throw It!

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This week we follow up on Episode #3 by clarifying an important aspect of good casting form: keeping the elbow down and resisting the urge to “throw” the flyline. At it’s core, fly casting is basically unrolling the fly line. We aren’t throwing it. However, raising the elbow up triggers that throwing instinct—it’s how we throw a baseball, after all—and prevents us from performing good casting mechanics because it’s very difficult to go straight back and straight forward when you raise your elbow.

In this video we demonstrate what good casting bio-mechanics look like, versus the poor mechanics of raising the elbow and trying to throw the fly line. And, we do it into the wind for good measure!

There is a fundamental principal at work here: only performing the movements that create a fly cast will produce a fly cast. If you perform some other movement—like throwing—you are expecting the impossible: that a good cast will come from a motion that has nothing to do with casting. It’s like going on the flat and performing the motions of flipping an omelet and hoping we miraculously get a fly cast.

However, a fly casting motion will always produce a fly cast. When we fail to make the cast, very often that is because we have ceased fly casting and performed another movement. Go back to fly casting, and all of a sudden we can again make the cast. It’s not magic, it’s not mysterious. It’s physics, and it’s reproducible. 2+2 always equals 4.

HOMEWORK: Practice keeping your elbow low. Make every casting stroke a photocopy of the previous one, especially the final, presentation cast! Nothing changes on the final cast.

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DIY Bonefishing: My First Bonefish

May 15, 2015

I saw 3 or 4 swimming straight at me. It was almost surreal.  I did exactly as you had described in the book and without a hitch dropped the tan Crazy Charlie about 2 feet in front of the lead fish.  I watched astonished as he just kept coming with intent and then tipped…

 

Loved this story over on diybonefishing.com. It realistically depicts the challenge (and rewards) of catching the Grey Ghost of the flats on fly by yourself. It also demonstrates why some instruction—in this case Rod’s very useful book—is better than trying to figure the whole thing out from scratch.

Bonefish are pretty much 180 degrees from the species most anglers target on fly. Everything, from the presentation to the hook-set is wildly different from what we’re used to. I see it every day I guide. If you cast past the fish and pull the fly towards them: game over. If you “trout set”: game over. If you roll-cast and rip the water: game over. If you use tippet with the letter X anywhere in it: game over. Walk the flats and blind cast: game over.

Rod’s book contains the fundamentals of targeting bonefish on the fly and helps clarify all these issues. After that, it’s just up to you get out there and do it!

If you haven’t already subscribed to Rod Hamilton’s blog on that site, you should. Weekly stories, fishing reports and tips to get you fired up (and more prepared) for that next flats fishing venture.

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Fly Casting REV Challenge: #3

April 27, 2015

Common Casting Mistakes vs. Good Casting Form

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This week let’s look at common faults in fly casting, particularly the motion of the cast itself.

There’s a basic principle here. You can’t get a good cast from a poor casting stroke, nor vice versa. Good movement produces good casting. So, if there’s a problem with your cast, there’s a problem with the movement that produced it.

Here’s a demonstration of some common casting mistakes that produce inefficient casts and then a demonstration of effective casting form.

Tune in next week for Episode 4 where we discuss the bio-mechanics of how to produce good casting form, and therefore effective casts.

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You Should Read More: FishingPoet: “West to Water”

April 18, 2015

Here, I am slow motion. Layers of break-neck life peeling away. I know it’s the wide-open expanse of frontier plainsong. Forever rolling and howling as the speedometer pushes 85 and The Grateful Dead wander their highway through Althea in Nassau. I am small here.

If you haven’t yet, you should head over to FishingPoet and read the rest. I usually try to stick to salty subjects here on FlatsWalker, but some stuff is simply so good you’ve got to make allowances. Besides, it certainly falls under the heading of “Spilled Ink”.

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Fly Casting REVup Challenge: #2

April 15, 2015

Fly Casting Basics: Straight Back, Straight Forward

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Let’s focus on the DIRECTION of our casting stroke. For this weeks REVup Challenge, try to work on casting straight back, and straight forward, rather than around a curve.

Head guide of Fish Bones Fly Fishing in the Cayman Islands analyzes the difference between the standard “loopy” overhead, 10-to-2 casting stroke and a slightly “side arm” stroke.

The classic overhead casting stroke tends to throw the flyline down on the backcast and forward cast, forming a large, inefficient loop.

By contrast, a slightly side arm immediately directs the fly line straight back, and then straight forward, parallel to the water surface. This produces a stealthier cast (for spooky bonefish) by turning the fly over parallel to the water, rather than kicking down at the end of the fly cast and splashing down. A straight line will also get more distance in the wind, because a tighter loop is more aerodynamic.

This is because focusing on “side arm” encourages the caster to keep his elbow down, rather than raising it on every backcast. Keeping the elbow low is a critical element to good flycasting, as it helps us track the rod-tip (and fly line) along a straight path.

Subscribe and get weekly Casting REVups to help tune your cast for summertime or your next fishing trip.

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Fly Casting REVup Challenge #1

April 05, 2015

Fly casting is: a slow, gradual acceleration to a sudden speed-up-and-stop.
~ Lefty Kreh

 

 

Join the REVolution. REVup your casting and REView the fundamentals. This is the first in a challenge to myself: one casting video a week (52 for the year) focusing on the fundamentals of casting a fly rod. We’ll look at basic casting principles, mechanics, common faults and even mobility issues. These will be drawn in part from the plethora of casting woes I witness as I daily guide anglers to tailing bonefish on the saltwater flats of Grand Cayman Island. Over the years I’ve had to learn how to quickly diagnose an angler’s cast, ignoring most of the issues but focusing on the biggest problem so we can go fishing. This forum will allow me to elaborate on some of the problems upstream and downstream of the major issues like wrist-ing, raising the elbow and failing to stop the rod.

We all wish we could be better casters. Let’s take the challenge and work on it.

Tight lines,
WindKnot the Angler

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Myth & Truth: Bonefish, Sunscreen & Slime

March 17, 2015
Bonefish with infection from too much slime removed.

An infection brewing from too much slime (mucous) removed. BTT photo.

Two fish displayed evidence of bacterial infection following handling, and both fish were exposed to the zinc sunscreen treatment. Based on these results, anglers should consider avoiding handling of fish with sunscreen-coated hands, as well as with UV gloves.

FlyLife Magazine just published an interesting article outlining a couple interesting experiments done at Bahamas’ Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) wetlab where they tested the effects of sunscreen tinted baits on bonefish feeding behaviour and whether sunscreen (conventional or zinc-based), sun gloves or clean wet hands are better for handling fish.

The results are interesting (and you can read the full account at the link above), but the basics are this:

  1. Sunscreen doesn’t deter or attract bonefish to bait. They are primarily sight feeders, so a refusal is probably because of something off in a presentation, or the fly pattern itself. Don’t blame the sunscreen.
  2. Although conventional sunscreen removed the most slime, zinc-based sunscreen seemed to cause the most damage to the bonefish.
  3. Clean, wet hands are the best for handling fish… so remove those sun gloves first.

I personally love the work Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are doing, and if you care at all about these species, so should you. Give em a click. Read. Join.

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