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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Casting Around the Clock

It’s time to add some presentation casts to your arsenal. The three casts that are the basis of good presentations are the "Wiggle Cast", the "Reach Cast" and the combination of the two, the "Wiggle Reach Cast". We can use these presentation casts to start “Fishing around the Clock”. This is a descriptive term for the ability to present the fly from any angle to a fish in moving water.

Right now on the Lower Yuba River we are starting to get decent hatches of PMD’s. Most of the time you’ll be presenting PMD duns and emergers on water that is at least somewhat smooth. This requires delicate rods, light lines and long leaders. A 5 weight is a good all around choice. Extend your leader to 12 to 15 feet long which includes tippet at least 2 to 4 feet long. Use delicate tippets like 5x. Use a "Duncan Loop" or an "Open Mono Loop Knot" to attach your flies. I like throwing "Double Dries, using a dun pattern and trailing an emerger about 18" or 20" behind. If the fish are really spooky I clip off the trailer.

You will need to present your flies without alarming your prey. You don’t want the fish to scatter from your line, leader and fly sailing over their heads and smacking down onto the water in their cone of vision. To be successful you must put the fly right onto the trout’s feeding lane without alarming them. How do we solve this problem? This is where putting "Fishing around the Clock" really pays off.

The Clock

Think of your position in relation to the trout you are stalking as a position around the clock with the trout in the center (See Illustration Above). You will be somewhere around the outside of the circle at a moderate casting range. Not too close, not too far. There is probably a best place to make your presentation. Your position is critical. The type of presentation cast you will need to make will differ from what position around the clock you are stationed.

Presenting from Downstream

If you‘re in the downward third of the clock 4:00, 5:00, 7:00 & 8 o’clock, you will be making your cast to the trout up and across stream. This will require an slight upstream, “Reach Cast” or more advanced casts, the “Positive or Negative Curve Cast”. We'll get to the Curve Casts at a later time. Using either of these casts will enable the trout to see the fly first, with the leader just seconds after it has decided to take your fly. This is the plan anyway. A word of caution, the downstream position is the hardest to accomplish a delicate presentation over selectively rising trout.

If you’re positioned in the 6 o’clock position this is even harder. You will need to present the fly in such a way that the leader attached to the fly doesn’t land right on the trout's head. As described above, it’s like throwing a small rock on the trout’s head, no good. You need to use a big “Reach Mend” to have the leader angling towards the bank which will enable the fly to be presented first.

Presenting From Directly Across

When you find yourself in a position to present your fly from directly across from the trout, this would be from the 3:00 or the 9:00 position you will want to add the “Reach Cast”. Aim your cast directly at the place you want the fly to land, ideally two to four feet upstream from the trout. As the straight line cast is delivered and starts to unfold towards the target, tip the rod over in the upstream direction and "reach" upstream. This is really an “Aerial Reach Mend”. When the fly lands, follow the drift with the rod tip.  This will keep the fly from dragging and the fly will enter the trout’s window ahead of the leader and line.

Presenting From Upstream

When presenting your fly to trout feeding on mayfly duns and emergers, probably the best position to take on smooth water conditions, is at an angle upstream from the trout. This would be from 1:00, 2:00, 10:00 and 11 o’clock. It definitely works best when you’re off to the side a bit. This is where the “Wiggle Cast” really excels. Aim about two to four feet upstream from the feeding fish. As you deliver the cast wiggle or wobble the rod tip back and forth horizontally as the line lays out. This will result in the line landing on the water in a series of serpentine curves. As the fly floats downstream toward the trout, the curves will feed out for a frag free drift.

Once you've mastered the "Wiggle Cast" you can add the "Reach Wiggle" which is doing both. This works especially well if you have heavier currents between you and the targeted trout. To execute the Reach Wiggle Cast you deliver the forward cast as normal, as the forward cast is furling out toward the target, tip the rod upstream for the reach mend and at the same time add the horizontal wobbles of the tip to add wiggles to the line. This may take a little time to get down, but it is worth the practice.

If the trout refuses the fly on either of these presentation casts, tip your rod toward the side or the bank after it has passed the trout. Let the current swing the fly well away from the trout before you pick up to cast again.

Presenting From Directly Upstream

When presenting the fly from directly upstream from the 12:00 position you typically only get one chance. If the fly is refused the leader and then the line follows and you can’t lift them off the water without spooking the run. You really want to avoid this presentation if possible. If you can't move more to the side and this is your only play, you can use the wiggle cast from this position.

The “Puddle Cast” is more accurate then the Wiggle cast and you may want to try it. The “Puddle Cast” is executed by throwing a high inclining cast on the forward stroke and then immediately dropping the rod tip. This will result in killing the forward momentum of the forward cast and cause it to puddle down to the water in a series of “S” shaped curves. Again if possible, it is best used from the 12:30 to 1:00 or the 11:00 to 11:30 position and only from the 12:00 position if absolutely necessary.

Learn the different presentation casts are when and where to use them and you’ll soon be catching those difficult trout.

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.