Fly Fishing Traditions

Fly Fishing Traditions Blog and Website
"It's about Life & Fly Fishing"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What the heck are Redds anyway?

I think it's probably a good idea to attempt to clear up what are redds and what is really going on in our rivers with the salmon, steelhead and trout. What should we be looking out for and what should we be aware of? Let's talk about what we should be looking out for and how best to approach the river when fishing.
What can we do to help educate the general fly fishing populous?
What is a redd?
  • When we think of redds we usually think, "salmon redd".

  • A salmon redd is a depression created by the upstroke of the female salmon's body and tail, sucking up the river bottom gravel and using the river current to drift it downstream.
  • The female salmon digs a number of redds, depositing a few hundred eggs in each during the one or two days she is spawning.

  • Each redd is located immediately upstream from the last to allow the current to deposit drifting gravel on top of and covering the previous redd.

  • Redds are very obvious in the stream, visible by clean exposed white gravel. Salmon spawn between 2000 and 6000 eggs, depending upon species. Different sized gravel is used as redd locations by each species.

  • Steelhead and rainbow trout often use the salmon redds to spawn in the spring.

When Wading the River

  • Concentrate angling activity in areas of the river where spawning salmon, steelhead and trout may be less prevalent.

  • Avoid areas of shallow water where you observe concentrations of spawning salmon and their redds (gravel “nests”). Salmon redds are generally between 1-2 square meters in size and may be recognized by the appearance of clean looking gravel which is loose and soft underfoot, as opposed to firmer and darker gravel nearby. Steelhead and trout will often use the same areas as the salmon to spawn.

  • When newly formed, redds will appear to be a depression with a mound of gravel on the downstream side. Eggs will be buried in the mound of gravel and for several meters downstream.

  • Walking on the redds may kill buried eggs, so please avoid them entirely.

Fact or Fiction

Does wading in and around the redds impact egg mortality?
Fact - A study done in Montana (published 1993 edition of Trout Unlimited)on the effects of wading around on trout spawning nests, indicated that just one step on a nest of eggs could immediately cause up to 47% mortality on the eggs. As the eggs that were smashed decay, the spores from the decaying eggs colonize on the good eggs and kill them as well. This is like having a rotten apple in the barrel where eventually all of the apples in the barrel will also rot.

Are boats are harmful to redds.
Fact - Fishermen who drag their anchor at times to slow a drifting boat will destroy any egg nest the anchor is dragged through. Engaging in such activities is like planting a vegetable garden and then walking on and driving tractors all over the planted ground.
Fact - The passage of drift boats, rafts and canoes, even sliding over the redds, is unlikely to be harmful.

It's OK to wade out in the river on the ridges in the Redd areas.
Fiction - If you attempt wading into an area where the redds are located, walking on top the ridges can damage sensitive eggs. Walking on the top of the redds compresses the gravel and cuts off availability of enough oxygen . This could unwittingly kill thousands of eggs.

What can we do about it?
As anglers we can educate friends and family, we can work on ways to educate anglers we meet on the stream when fishing. With kind words and not an attitude.
We see on catch basin drains where it says something to the effect of "Warning, Drains To Fish Habitats." Why not put signs at trail heads or on the local maps to warn of potential damage, something like “Sensitive Habitat Areas – Salmon Redds” or whatever, to start getting the point across.

It would be a good idea to make up a few laminated sheets and stick them on small sign posts at popular get on locations describing the sensitive locations on that particular river.

How about putting together an informational pamphlet?
How about having a talk at local fly fishing clubs?
I believe it will take a grass roots effort to make a difference.
Any one interested in helping out or have any other ideas?


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

River Right? River Left? Right Shoulder? Left Shoulder?

When starting to learn how to spey cast, one of the most confusing and in the end most important things to understand, is to figure out what spey cast you should be using and why. The why is very important. It is necessary to recognize that your decision as to what cast to use is based upon and tied to;

(a) Which side of the river you are fishing from

(b) Which shoulder you are throwing the cast over

(c) Which way the wind is blowing

River Right  

River Right is the "Right" side of the river that you are standing in when looking in a downstream direction. So simply put, if you are standing in a river facing the center of the river and the water is flowing from your left to your right. You are on the right side of the river, "River Right". Pretty simple.

(1) Looking Downstream
(2) Standing of the right side
(3) "River Right"

River Left

River Left is the "Left" side of the river that you are standing in when looking in a downstream direction. So simply put, if you are standing in a river facing the center of the river and the water is flowing from your right to your left. You are on the left side of the river, "River Left".  Also pretty simple.

(1) Looking Downstream
(2) Standing of the Left side
(3) "River Left"

Right and Left Shouldered Casts

Wind direction plays into your decision as to which shoulder you wish to cast over. There is a "Spey-Speak" for this.

For a right handed caster your right shoulder would be your "Strong" shoulder. Your left shoulder would be referred to as your "Off" shoulder.

For a right handed caster a spey cast thrown over your "Right" shoulder can also be referred to as your "On-Hand" or "Strong Shoulder or "Natural Shoulder"

For a right handed caster, a spey cast thrown over your "Left" shoulder can be referred to as your "Off-Hand" or "Cack-Hand". A cast thrown over your off shoulder is referred to as "Cack-Handed". This is also often referred to as your "Reverse" side.

Believe me this will all make sense eventually.

Wind Direction

Wind direction plays into your decision as to which shoulder you wish to cast over. Why? You don't want to be wearing the fly you are throwing as an earring. This is what could happen.

  • You are standing in the river and the wind is blowing hard upstream.
  • You choose to throw a cast over your downstream shoulder.
  • You circle up to make your cast and come to your set position and make your forward cast
  • The wind blows your line and fly upstream as it unfurls.
  • You now are wearing an "Intruder" earring.
  • Ouch!
To avoid this you need to throw a cast over your upstream shoulder when you have an upstream wind. That way the wind is blowing the line and fly upstream and away from you when it unfurls.

Right Choice = Fly hopefully in fish's mouth

Wrong Choice = New Earring! and "Ouch"!

In the next Spey Blog Post I  will explain the various spey casts and when to use them when considering; 

(1) Which side of the river you are standing on and 

(2) Which way the wind is blowing.

It all matters and it all makes sense when you put it all together.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stop and Block Spey Technique

When we are in the process of perfecting the modern spey casting stoke, we often find ourselves using our top hand way too much. Especially when first getting started. This can be attributed to the many years of single handed casting where the technique is all with our dominant hand. The dominant hand is now our top hand when spey casting. It wants to cast.

How you utilize your top and bottom hand to create an efficient lever is a hard thing to grasp. Andrew Toft has shot a video which explains his "Stop and Block" technique. It is the "Fulcrum Principle" where the top hand is the pivot and "stop" mechanism and the bottom hand pulls back and provides a" block". This combination and sequence is what makes a spey line fly. Little top hand movement but a very specific top hand stop sequence to stop the rod to release the tip.

It's the old "Monty Python" thing  where the "Trebuchet" throws the cow over the wall. If the fulcrum point was moving the lever fails and the cow throwers gets the cow dung all over them. Cow and other assorted barnyard animals get thrown over wall. No fulcrum, no Cow!


Friday, March 21, 2014

List of Basic Spey Casts

When considering which of many spey casts to utilize there are some basic things to take note of:

  • Which side of the river you are casting from, "River Right" or "River Left"
  • Which way is the wind blowing
Here is a list of the basic Spey Casts and when they should be considered and utilized;

This list of casts is for a "Right Handed" caster. Everything would be just the opposite if you are a "Left Handed" caster.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Skagit Casting - Defined and Simplified with Scott Howell

This excellent video by Scott Howell demonstrates the Skagit Casting Method. He also explains the difference between "Modern Spey Casting" and "Skagit Casting".

I have posted different videos showing different styles of spey casting so that it may be easier to understand their differences. Take your time and watch this video a number of times. Spool up a running line, a Skagit head, and a tip, take it out to the river or the lawn and give it a try. It may change your perspective a bit. It may also become one of your favorite methods.

Scott Howell is the focus of the DVD "Skagit Master II" This is a must see for any steelhead fisherman. I great look at a master in action.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spey Casting Glossary of Terms

When getting on board with Spey Casting there is a new vocabulary that constantly has you asking "What the heck are they talking about". 

You can read and study this glossary to better understand the jargon for the principles of spey casting. 

180  Degree Rule - The fly, the leader, the "D" loop and the casting plane are in alignment at 180 degrees of the forward cast and the target.

Anchor - The fly, the leader and the front tip of the line being secured on the water surface, provides the tension or resistance needed to form the "D" loop and provide loading for the forward cast.

Anchor Point - The location point of the anchor. As a general rule, this location is slightly forward and a rod's length to the side the cast is being formed.

Casting Arc - The angle of the rod butt in relationship to the start and finish of the stroke.

Casting Stroke - The length the rod butt travels from the start of the straight-line path to the stop.

Center River - A directional term that refers to a point mid river, adjacent to the caster's position

Circle Cast - A two directional cast the positions the fly to the upstream side of the caster and utilizes an oval to reposition the line, Used for an upstream wind.

"Circle Up" - The "circle-up assists in forming the back loop and transits the rod into the "Key" position for the forward cast. The rod drives back opposite to the forward stroke, curves upward to the start formation of either the "D" loop or the "V" loop shape, arriving at the "Key" position.

Constant Tension Method - A curved path movement that loads the rod through continuous motion during the movements of the cast all the way through to the stop. An example is the "Skagit Casting" method.

Creep - Creep is bad. The movement of the rod not under pressure. This commonly happens at the start of the forward stroke reducing the length of the rod-loading move.

Crescent Lift - A lifting move that uses a curving rise of the rod.

Crossed-tail Loop - A casting fault. A forward loop where the upper leg collides sideways into the lower leg. This is a result of misaligned anchor point that is not aligned to the path of the forward past. No 180 degree rule applied.

Forward Cast - The forward stroke from the "Key" Position through the final forward delivery.

"D" Loop - A rounded back loop of line that forms behind the rod tip with the aid of the anchor and is the load for the forward cast.

Dangle - The point at which the fly or is at the end or completion of the swing. Also the amount of line, tip leader etc. that remains outside of the tip top of the rod prior to commencing a spey cast.

Double Spey Cast - A two directional cast the positions the fly to the downstream side of the caster; used for a downstream wind.

Downstream Wind - The wind in a downstream direction, traveling in the same direction as the river current.

Drift - The intentional movement of the rod in the sane direction that the line is traveling after the stop. This rod re-positioning increases the length of the casting stroke following the cast.

Excessive Lift - A casting fault. A lift motion that is too great resulting in an anchor placement too far from the caster's position.

Grass Leader - A leader that consists of a series of blood knots that will be entrapped in the grass barbules, forming the grip for Spey Casting on the grass. The blood knots are tied about 3 - 5 inches apart. The tag ends are clipped about 3/8" to 1/2' long. The leader is approximately 10'- 12' long.

Grip - To hold and provide resistance from the anchor placement on the water surface.

Head - The body section of a line including the front taper, the belly and the back or rear taper.

Insufficient Lift - A casting fault. A lift motion that fails to lift the fly clear of the water surface and set to the desired anchor point.

"Key" Position - The rod position at which the forward stroke or the forward straight line cast begins.

Left Bank or River Left - The left side of the river when facing downstream.

Level line drop - A casting fault. The line setting down at the anchor point falls parallel or flat to the water surface. The entire line contacts the water and creates too much line stick or excessive drag.

Lift - A vertical rod movement the re-positions the line.

Line Drag - A casting fault - A level dragging motion of the rod that provides no lift of the line nor an energized loop.

Line Stick - The resistance from the amount of line nested on the water surface during the forward stroke.

Loading move - The bending of the rod under power.

Overhead Cast - A straight-line cast that has an aerial back loop and front loop. It is a basic, simple and efficient cast.

Piled Anchor - A casting fault. The line piling into the anchor point due to the belly of the line contacting the water surface prior to the leader.

Perry Poke Cast - A line position move that is added during the formation of the cast. This move can be adapted to any cast to enhance the cast performance.

Pushing over the top - A casting fault. An excessive use of the top had that disrupts the shared work between the upper and lower hands. A rotation of the top wrist will often appear. This is a circular push of the top hand that kicks the rod tip downward at the end of the stroke, resulting in a loss of power, rounded forward loops and a slight tail at the end of the cast.

Right Bank or River Right - The right side of the river bank when facing downstream.

Rolling the Shoulder - A casting fault. A circular rotation of the shoulder during the casting stroke that results in a loss of power and inefficient round forward loops.

Rhythm - The pace and speed of a single movement or line-positioning move during the cast.

Shooting Line - A small diameter running line that is attached behind the body of a shooting head. For example - Rip Slickshooter or Airflo Ridge, or Airflo Miracle Braid.

Shotgun Lift - A vertical lift that provides a smooth lineal lift.

Single Spey Cast - A two directional cast that positions the fly to the upstream side of the caster; used for an upstream wind.

Skagit Casting - A sustained anchor style of casting, which uses a continuous motion throughout the sweep, turn up to the "key" position and then the forward stroke. This is often referred to as the "Ed Ward" style.

Snake Roll Cast -    A two directional cast that positions the fly to the downstream side of the caster; used for an downstream wind.

Snap "T" Cast - A two directional cast that positions the fly to the upstream side of the caster; used for an upstream wind.

Snap "Z" Cast -  A two directional cast that positions the fly to the upstream side of the caster; used for an upstream wind.

Soft "D" - A casting fault - An undersized back loop and/or one that lacks the energy for the length of line given.

Spiral Cast - A two directional cast that positions the fly to the upstream or downstream side of the caster. The rotation of the lifting oval may be rotated in either direction to adjust for wind.

Stance - The position of the caster in relation to how the feet are positioned

"Stop" - The movement of the rod butt momentarily stops forcing the rod tip to turnover, transferring the energy of the bent rod to the line, forming the forward loop.

Straight -line method - The movement of the rod that tracks a straight path, directs a straight momentum and ends with the rod unloading.

Straight-line path - A course the rod tip tracks during the stroke that is in alignment on a common plane from the "Key" position to the target.

Switch Cast - A single directional cast that has a dynamic "D" back loop and a forward loop that rolls out above the water surface.

Tailing loop - A casting fault. When the rod tip drops below and ends above the straight-line path, the upper leg collides with the lower leg of the unrolling loop. the rod tip tracks a concave path during the stroke.

Tempo - The pace of the overall cast, from start to finish.

Timing - The length of time each movement requires, arranged within the scope of the entire cast.

Tracking - A casting fault. The dropping of the rod tip low behind the caster when forming the back loop. This results in the "D" loop dropping too low behind the caster and contacting the water surface, causing excessive line stick.

Upstream Wind - The wind traveling in an upstream direction, opposite to the direction of the current flow.

Underhand Cast - A casting technique developed by Goran Anderson. This cast is best accomplished with shooting head from 24 to 46 feet. It relies on a string pull of the bottom hand.

"V" Loop - a wedge shaped "V" back loop of line formed behind the rod tip that, with the aid of the anchor, is the load for the forward cast. The most efficient back loop.

Working line - The line that extends beyond the rod tip during the formation of the cast.

This Glossary of Terms came from studying the book Two Handed Fly Casting - Spey Casting Techniques, by "Al Buhr"

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Use of the Bottom Hand and the Underhand Spey Casting Technique

This is a video clip of Goran Anderson showing us the "Underhand Cast". The cast uses almost entirely the bottom hand. The top hand has very little drift. It is one on the distinct styles of spey casting. This is good to practice using a long belly line like an Airflo Delta or a Rio Short Head Spey line.

With this and most of the different styles of casting you need to train yourself to eliminate a dominant top hand. Single handed casters rely on the dominant hand to orchestrate a cast. When starting two handed casting we are ingrained to use our dominate hand, for a right handed caster this would be the right hand. Using the top hand for power is BAD! We have used our right hand for most of our fishing career and it's hard to stop using it. The upper hand, needs to be the fulcrum, or the pivot. The lower hand is in the drivers seat. The pull with lower hand also pulls against the load created by the back loop and the line anchored to the waters surface. Loading the rod in this manner is technically a Class 1 lever, the strongest. The top hand job is to stop the rod which will "Flip the Tip" and off the cast will fly. Figure how to apply this power correctly and you are on your way.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Dec Hogan II Spey Rods

I fish with and recommend Echo Fly Rods. I like their action and ease of casting especially using the "Ed Ward" Skagit style of casing using Skagit Short heads or when using Dec's style with medium and longer bellied lines like an Airflo Delta.

Echo has come out with Echo's new line of Dec Hogan II Spey Rods. These are great working rods with a price that won't break the bank. Here's a video of Dec Hogan discussing the development and attributes of the new Echo II Rods. The Dec Hogan II Spey Rods have also developed a rod with a 6.5 line designation, which puts it right between a 6 and a 7 weight.

Also as a bonus watch Dec's casting style which I believe people should experience and see if it works for you.

His casting style does not have a lot of wasted motion and is pretty darn effective. Its easy going and gets the job done. His casting technique is a combination of old and new styles adapted to maximize the performance of today's modern spey rods and progressive tapered fly lines. It is a sensible style that experienced Spey fishers seem to eventually evolve to.

Here's the details of the Dec Hogan II Spey Rods from Rajeff Sports
Your first thought might be Why? But rest assured, the soul of the original medium-fast action DH series was not lost. The advancements in casting techniques and modern fly lines just inspired us to update and redesign this popular lineup. Dubbed the DH II, they provide a slightly crisper action, enhanced tip recovery, wider grain window, and a scary-wicked color scheme. More distance with ease sums up our whole thought process with the DH II series. Bonus: Only since the evolution of modern spey lines has it been possible to build a true tweener rod, thus the 6.5 line designation. The gap between 6- and 7-weight two-handed rods has always left anglers searching for either a bigger six or smaller seven. Search no more, the 6.5 will definitely become the lower 48 meat-and-potatoes Summer Steelhead stick.
DEC HOGAN II Rods feature:
  • Four-piece travel design
  • Premium grade cork with composite accents at each end
  • Carbon fiber reel seat with anodized aluminum components
  • Night smoke gloss blank
  • Dark gray wraps with metallic trim
  • Black ceramic stripper guides
  • Black snake guides and tip top
  • Dark gray cordura covered rod tube and cloth rod bag
  • ECHO lifetime warranty

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spey Fishing in Northern California - What's the Deal?

For those of us who live and fish in the Central Valley or in Northern California, what's the big deal with Spey Rods?

Well, for one thing we have steelhead in our systems. Steelhead often mean swinging flies, either steelhead softhackles, traditional steelhead patterns, streamers and such. They best way to do so is with a spey rod. A new buzz is "Trout Spey", using smaller and lighter spey rods when fishing for trout. I do it and it's fun. It may not be the most effective method, but the pull of a fish when it takes a fly on the swing sure beats staring at an indicator all day long. I find myself drawn to swinging flies. If you like to swing soft hackles, you'd like to learn how to fish with a Spey Rod.

A spey rod is meant for swinging flies in the downstream quadrant. Across, across and down, quartering down. It allows an angler to easily boom out long casts with moderate effort. The only problem is that to do so you find yourself entering in a different fly fishing world. A world of new lines, shooting heads, weighted tips, different flies and probably the biggest a new challenge to learn how to cast the darn things.

Its a new vocabulary to learn and understand.

An Airflo Spedicator Integrated Line
  • Skagit Heads
  • Scandi Heads
  • Polyleaders
  • Versileaders
  • Running lines
  • MOW tips
  • Hang Down
  • Switch Rod
  • River Right
  • River Left
  • T-8, T-11, T-14
  • Cheaters
Then there's the actual casts;

  • Double Spey
  • Single Spey
  • Snap T
  • Snap Z
  • Circle Cast
  • Snake Roll
  • Perry Poke
April Vokey

There's different Styles of Spey Casting. They all have a place and they have applications for different sizes or lengths of rods and the different fishing conditions you may find yourself facing. Big, Broad, wide rivers with lots of room to backcast, tight slotted rivers with brush at your back, you need different tools and techniques in your tool box.

Double Spey Skagit Style

  • Underhand
  • Modern
  • Skagit
  • Traditional
Ready to run away yet? Spey Fishing is indeed a new world, but it is fun and very rewarding once you commit to the journey. There is something about the pace of working your way down a run, casting repeatedly and teasing your flies across the current. Is there anyone home? It's strangely meditative. Although the best fly fishers are constantly changing the way there flies work the current, slower, faster deeper. You need to be mindful of where your flies are working, not just mindlessly repeating the same cast and presentation all day long. It's a contemplative game. It's a challenge and I believe it is worth the time and effort spent.

I'll explore these topics in future posts and introduce you into this new and fascinating world of Spey Fishing. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why Do I Use A Switch Rod?

There a people out there that might ask, "Why the heck would I want to buy a switch rod"? That's a good question. 

I'm going to answer this question from the perspective of fishing my home river, the Lower Yuba. I personally use a switch rod a lot. I use either a 5 weight, 10'9" switch rod or a 6 weight, 11'0" rod a lot. For this discussion the make and model doesn't really matter.

Why are these shorter two handed rods called  "Switch Rods"? The term switch rod comes from the idea that the rod can be cast either one handed or you can "switch" to two hands. From my experience which is with 5 and 6 weight switch rods they can be cast with one hand but if you were to do so all day long you could have wrist and forearm troubles. They really are meant to be cast with two handed techniques. It sort of goes like, pick it up and roll cast it out with one hand to change direction and position the line and then "switch" to two hands to make the final presentation cast. This is my normal routine anyway. My presentation cast is almost always two handed.

Answer Part 1 - A Switch Rod is a Multi-Purpose Tool.

The Lower Yuba is the type of river that you can use many tactics and techniques on the same day in different parts of the river.

  • You may be going deep with indicator and shot
  • You may be decide to use tight line nymphing methods.
  • You may high stick using either of the above methods
  • You may swing streamers and steelhead type soft hackles
  • You may match the hatch using dries, emergers or nymphs
  • You may dredge the slots and deeper holes.
  • You may swing smaller trouty soft hackles.
  • You may fish egg patterns or Troutbeads behind the salmon 
  • Out of a boat you may pound the banks with hopper patterns
You can do all of these things with a switch rod. Can you do them with a single handed rod, Yes of course. But you can choose to do them with a switch rod and in a lot of cases casting further and easier. With the longer length you can manage your drift and mend at a longer distance.

Answer Part 2 - The Switch Rod can become a Fishing System.

You can look at a Switch Rod as a "Fishing System". What do I mean by that? Well, you can rig your rod to use many techniques and utilize many tactics if you organize your "system" properly.

How do I create a "Switch Rod System"? 

Switch Rod and Reel - You start by buying your switch rod and select a reel that balances with it correctly. That means that the reel needs to hold enough backing, 125 -150 yds, plus your fly line. We'll get to more of this in a minute. As a general rule the reel for a switch rod should be about 2 line sizes over a single handed rod. For an example for a 5 weight switch rod you would match it with a 7-8 sized single handed reel.

Two Spools - You want to purchase at least one extra spool to match your reel. Why? Your system will be comprised of two line systems. One spool will have an integrated full length line and the other will have a running line. 

Spool #1 - With an Integrated Floating Line

Your first spool will have; 

(A) 125-150 yards of backing
(B) An integrated line of choice. Sound pretty familiar? Pretty much the same as a single handed rod. The difference is that the line of choice will have more grain weight that the one you would use for a single handed rod. For instance if you were to use an line that is sized for a single handed rod like the Rio Indicator Line you would over- line the rod by 2 to 3 line weights, more grain weight. Not to try to be confusing, but some lines like any of the "Switch" lines are sized to size of your rod. For example a 6 weight switch rod would match up with a 6 weight Rio Switch Line.

Some of the lines available for a switch rod are; 
  • Rio Switch Line
  • Rio Switch Chuckar
  • Rio Outbound Short
  • Airflo Speydicator
  • Airflo Delta Spey
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail in this article as to the differences in these lines, that will come another day.

(C) Optional Rigging - Add a Light MOW Tip for running your flies right on the bottom when tight lining or swinging (See Discussion on MOW Tips below)

(D) A leader
  • A Versileader or Ployleader - The Rio "Versileaders" or the Airflo "Polyleaders" are specialty leaders that have sink rates from floating to 7 inches per second (ips,) . These are leader systems that vary in composition from 6 to 15 feet. The construction of these leaders involves using a level core of mono filament and then applying a supple taper coating in a wide variety of densities. These light tips help eliminate the hinge effect when transferring energy from the fly line to the leader.
  • Light MOW tips
  • A tapered Leader
  • A straight piece of monofilament or fluorocarbon

Summary - The main thing to understand is that on this spool you will select an integrated line that is approximately 100 to 120 feet long. The line of choice will be used for, overhead casting situations similar to fishing with a single handed rod, Where you need a delicate delivery for soft hackles or dry flies, where you need the ability to mend and control the drift of the flies, where you want to use conventional tight lining nymphing tactics and want the tip to get down in lower flows (Verileaders or Polyeaders), or where you want to indicator nymph. You will use your line of choice a lot during almost any time of the year.

Note: I have a 3rd extra spool which I load with a line like the Airflo Speydicator or the Rio Switch Chuckar for using with big Thingamabobbers when going deep and when fishing with Troutbeads or generally any time I'm throwing a lot of shot. 

Spool #2 - With a Running Line, Shooting Head of Choice and a Tip

What the heck is a running line any way? A running line is a line that is attached to the backing, it is approximately 100 feet long, it is approximately .037" to .040" in diameter for its whole length ( a thinner diameter level line). It typically has a loop on the end that is used to attach "Shooting Heads". 

You need to choose the length, profile and grain weight of the shooting head carefully as it must "balance" with your switch rod. The Shooting Heads are a vital part of the "Fishing System". This system is mainly to be utilized for swinging below the surface, anywhere from a foot to the bottom. It will be used exclusively for downstream and across presentations.

So the Spool #2 is rigged something like this,

(A) Backing - 125-150 yards of backing

(B) Running Line - A level running line like a;

  • Rio Powerflex
  • Rio Slickshooter
  • Rio Gripshooter
  • Airflo Ridge Running Line). 
All good running lines, all just a little different. 

(C) Shooting Head - A Shooting Head, (Oh, Oh, this is where it gets interesting)

Shooting Heads - One thing that must be explained is that the grain weight of the shooting head you select must balance with the rod. This can be determined by charts provided by the manufacturer of the rod or typically on their website. Shooting heads are sold based on their "grain weight" not rod size. For instance my 6 weight Switch Rod balances nicely with a 390 grain Skagit Shooting Head. It will perform well within a range of grain weights. In my case somewhere between about 360 grain to 420 grain.

Being vary general, the Skagit and Scandi heads are used in different water conditions and with different sizes of flies.
  • Matra: Skagit Shooting Heads - "Winter, Big Water & Big Flies"
  • Matra: Scandi Shooting Heads -"Spring and Summer, Smaller Water, Smaller flies"

Shooting Head Options

Skagit Shooting Heads
  • Airflo Skagit Compact Heads - 23' to 27' long for throwing big flies and heavier sink tips
  • Rio Skagit Max - About 23' in length - they perform similar to the Airflo Skagit Compact Heads
Scandi Shooting Heads
  • Airflo Scandi Compact Heads - 28' to 34' long for throwing medium to smaller flies and lighter sink tips
  • Rio Scandi - 28' to 40' the perform similar to the Airflo Scandi Compacts.
Specialty Shooting Heads
  • Airflo Rage - 27' to 32' long. This line fishes like a Skagit Compact but is designed to fish as a straight floater. Great for windy conditions where you need to drive your cast into and through the wind. Similar use to the Skagit Compact
  • Airflo Skagit Switch - 18' to 20' long - This shooting head was designed for switch rods. These lines were designed for the fast action switch rods and they load fast and easily.

With that said I'd recommend carrying a Skagit Head and a Scandi head. The choice is sort of up to you. Staying basic you can't really go wrong with the Compact Skagit and Scandi Heads to get started.

(D) Tips

Tips for Skagit Heads - When using any of the Skagit Heads you will be using a "Tip". Some of the options for tips when using Skagit Shooting heads are; 
  • Solid lengths of tungsten. These can be can be purchased or made yourself using lengths of T-8, T-11, and T-14 line. Note:  A one foot length of T-11 weighs 11 grains. One foot of T-14 weighs 14 grains.
  • MOW tips - MOW tips are sold by RIO. They are basically 10 feet long and they combine different lenghts of floating and sinking sections to allow for more consistent fishing and casting performance while fishing sinking sections of various lengths. The come in Light (T-8), Medium (T-11) and Heavy (T-14). Personally I love them. 
  • As a general note, the smaller the rod weight the lighter the tips are to match it.
Tips for Scandi Heads - When Using Scandi Heads you will sometimes be using:
  •  A "Tip", like the Rio "Versileaders" or the Airflo "Polyleaders" and sink rates from floating to 7 inches per second (ips,) . These are leader systems that vary in composition from 6 to 15 feet. The construction of these leaders involves using a level core of mono filament and then applying a supple taper coating in a wide variety of densities. These light tips help eliminate the hinge effect when transferring energy from the fly line to the leader.
(E) Leaders
  • Tapered Leaders
  • Level sections of monofilament or fluorocarbon.

You will be using your running line and heads when you are fishing the downstream quadrant. This system can be teamed up with nymphs, trouty soft hackles egg patterns, streamers,conventional steelhead patterns, soft hackled steelhead patterns, leeches, and so forth. Great for doing the "Swing Thing".

The System

This "Switch Rod System" gives you the options to employ lots of tactics and cover lots of different water types. Do they work as well as a single handed rod for casting delicate dries and nymph? No! Do they cast as well as a two handed spey rod? No! They just do a little bit of everything pretty darn well. For a river like the Lower Yuba that comes in pretty handy.

Is the Entry Into the Spey World Confusing?

When you first open the door to fishing with a two handed rod it opens into a very broad and for most people a confusing world. I attended a switch rod clinic a number of years ago and the first thing that happened was the instructor opening up a small suitcase type of thing and dumped a pile of lines, heads, tips, etc. onto a table. I said to myself, "I'm not ready for this!". Running Lines, Integrated Lines, Skagit Heads, Scandi heads, Versileaders, T-8, T-11, T-14, Customized heads, my head was swimming immediately. What the heck is a Skagit Head? The instructor just said "forgetaboutit". Unfortunately you can't just put your head in the sand. You have to figure this stuff out, you have to learn how the stuff matches up. What lines match up with which rod? Grain weights? What's this about?

I'm going to attempt to demystify some of this world through a number of posts which will cover:

  • Switch Rods
  • Spey Rods
  • Reels to match the rods
  • Running Lines
  • Integrated lines
  • Shooting Heads, Skagit and Scandi and variations of each
  • Tungston heads
  • Versileaders
  • MOW tips
  • Leaders
  • Flies
Unfortunately this is just all the gear! What to do with it is another story. How do you cast the darn things? Who do we listen to? There are different styles of casting that tend to match your line configuration, type and size of water you are fishing, the size of flies.

There are styles of casting two handed rods. The expression being tossed around these days is "Modern Speycasting". These are classified as;
  • Modern Speycasting - This style utilizes shorter head lines, using a more compact style using both hands or with a dominant bottom hand. This is the style is best described as the style employed by Simon Gawesworth. Simon tends to use medium to long integrated lines, with fast, flat rod movements with positive stops to develop and maintain a "V-Loop", (and elongated D'Loop), with a long casting stroke with upper arm extension. His technique develops line speed by using his upper and lower hand equally, 50/50. This style is a good choice for rivers that have open areas for an enlongated "D-loop". With that said it can be used with variations on most any river.
  • Skagit Speycasting - This style can be described as using short shooting heads that are cast with effortless power by utilizing a sustained anchor This is often referred to as the "Ed Ward" style which uses a "Continuous Loading" throughout the cast, Similar to a "Belgian Cast" when single hand casting. The stroke never stops from pickup, swing or sweep, turn up, forward stroke. The rule of thumb for this style is that the hang-down (line out of the tip) should be where the line belly plus the tip (cheater, weighted head, or MOW tip etc) is in the range of 3 to 3 1/2 times the length of the rod. Another characteristic of the Skagit Casting is that the D-loop is form off the shoulder and does not conform to the 180 degree rule. It's  more of a 120 degree rule. (My interpretation). This style is a great for streams that have close cover and obstructions directly behind you, willows, brush and trees.
  • Underhand Style - This style can be used with integrated lines and with shooting heads and features the a dominant bottom hand. This casting style uses the 180 degree rule to place the D-Loop, and at the forward stop features a dominant pull with the bottom hand leading immediately afterwards to a stop of the rod. We're talking a hit the brick wall stop which results in a release of the rod tip to the target.
Three styles, all of which have their place. It's good to learn them all. Try them all and see which works for you.

Ready to give up? Hang in there and we'll slowly work our way through it.

I'll start with Switch and Spey rods in the first post in this series. Stay tuned and we all may learn together and in the end become accomplished spey fishers.


Lefty Krehs Loop Knot

A LOOP KNOT is one of the most useful knots in fishing. A loop in the line allows the lure or fly to be more active during the retrieve. Anglers have used loops in monofilament and wire for decades, but most loop knots have some disadvantages. First, the tag end of most loop knots protrudes either outward or forward. This stub, even if very short, will tangle a thick tippet and often catch grass in the water, spoiling the retrieve. Second, most loop knots are not as strong as the line they are tied with and cannot be adjusted to loop size. Finally, many loop knots can be tied only in fluorocarbon or monofilament and not in braided wire.

The Non-Slip Loop overcomes most of these disadvantages. It doesn't snag. The tag end protrudes toward the fly, lure, or hook, reducing the chance of snagging grass during the retrieve. It is strong. When tied correctly, it will test near or at full-line strength in all kinds of weights — 150-pound-test monofilament or 8X tippet. It is versatile. You can use it to make a simple loop or a loop to attach the lure, fly, or bare hook. You can build the loop to any desired size. And best of all, it is perhaps the most effective knot for tying a loop in braided wire, especially the modern multi-strand wire.

The knot may appear to be difficult to tie, but it is rather easy. You make an Overhand Knot, insert the tag end through the hook eye, bring the tag end back through the Overhand Knot, and make a number of turns with the tag end before inserting the tag end a final time through the Overhand Knot. Now let's do it step-by-step.

Step 1: To attach a hook, lure, or fly, make an Overhand Knot in the line before you insert it through the hook eye.

Step 2: Pass the tag end back through the Overhand Knot the same way it came out of the knot.

Step 3: Large loops can cause problems, so it is best to make smaller loops. You can adjust the size of the loop as follows. After making step 2, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch together the Overhand Loop and the line passing through it. By drawing on the main line, you can then reduce the Overhand Loop. Continue pinching the two lines and pull on the tag end. This action moves the now-smaller Overhand Knot down until it touches the hook eye, further reducing the loop's size.

Step 4: Start making turns with the tag end around the main line. It is the number of turns that determines the knot's strength. For lines testing 8X to 6-pound-test, make seven turns; for 8- to 12-pound-test, make five turns; for 15- to 40-pound-test, four turns; and for line heavier than that, make only two turns. For thin, flexible modern multi strand plastic-coated braided wire lines, make three turns. For the older plastic-coated braided wire, two turns are enough. The key to tying a strong Non-Slip Loop is to make the required turns with the tag end around the main line before you finish the knot.

Step 5: To ensure maximum strength, pull on the main line, the tag end, and the lure or hook to firmly close the knot.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The March Brown Mayfly

March Brown

Scientific Names: Rhithrogena morrisoni, R. hageni

Common Names: March brown, western March brown

NYMPH SIZE: 8-12 mm (5/16 to 1/2 in)

NYMPH COLOR: Dark brown, sometimes olive-brown

DUN SIZE: 8-15 mm (5/16 to 5/8 in)

DUN COLOR: Wing: mottled brown and tan. Body: brown on top, tan below.

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Nymph: gills overlap under the abdomen; flattened appearance; three-tailed; head is wider than the abdomen. Dun has two tails.

March Brown Maddness

The spring time here in the Sierra Foothills and specifically on the Lower Yuba River is the time to get out on the lawn and start sharpening your dry fly strokes and presentations. It’s the time for the March Brown’s to make their presence felt. If you like the appeal of fishing dries to feeding fish, then the time of April and May is around the corner. March Browns are one of my most remembered and glorified hatches on the Lower Yuba River. Funny how that is, how as time goes on you forget the hours spent with refusal after refusal and remember the successes.

Even though the bugs often hatch in godawful weather and us fly fishers have spent many a March afternoon shivering, fishing a run as droplets of cold rain run down the sleeve of our casting arms, we would do it again tomorrow. We’d rather be there suffering and attempting to catch fish. As the month of March begins to wind down the hatches of Blue Wing Olives, "Baetis" and Skwala Stones, “Perlodidae," have been going on steadily since February a new player shows up. As late March and April arrives the days will typically start warming and the water temperatures will also go up which triggers the March Brown mayfly to start hatching. They can hatch in just about any weather. This is the "Rithrogenia Morrisoni" hatch. This large mayfly is typically an afternoon hatch and once it starts happening you can almost set your watch from it.

It seems though that for the past couple of years the March Brown hatch has not occurred with the intensity of past years on our Lower Yuba River. Whether this has to do with the changing structure of the river or from high water conditions channeling and rolling the river’s cobbled bottom I’m not sure. I am planning on observing this hatch closely this year will share the results. Any one else have any thoughts on this?

Where They Live

As members of the clinger group of mayflies (family Heptageniidae), March Brown nymphs live in riffles and fast, rocky runs. Nymphs are so well adapted to their habitat that they are seldom found in the drift until emergence time. As the nymphs near maturity, they migrate to slower (but not slow) water, usually within a hundred yards above or below a riffle.

Hatches usually start in the early afternoon. Just prior to the hatch, nymphs are often found drifting in the current, so it makes sense to present a nymph pattern near the bottom beginning a couple of hours before the hatch. As the nymphs hatch, they often drift a long distance before reaching the surface, so you find drifting nymphs anywhere from just below a riffle to runs that are well below them.

The Hatch

The March Brown hatch that takes place on the Lower Yuba River can be a complex hatch with BWO’s and PMD’s coming off and then the March Brown’s showing up to the dance, crashing the party.

On most days the BWO’s and PMD’s have been hatching for an hour or more and the trout’s attention can quickly turn to the larger March Brown’s. As trout switch their focus to the March Brown duns and you see surface rises, switch to a dry fly. This where having binoculars to scan the surface and see which bugs the fish are taking can really pay off. The March Brown duns usually emerge on the surface. As the early stages of the hatch begin to take place, larger and more dominate trout will actively take naturals on the surface.

Sometimes, however, emergence happens underwater as the dun floats to the surface. In this case a "flymph" or down-wing wet fly works best. As the hatch progresses the larger of the trout will often disappear below the surface film and begin feeding on the struggling emergers. Smaller more aggressive trout will still feed on top on naturals stranded in the film. During the peak of the emergence, March Brown’s can be littered across the water.

When fishing dries on the surface, being successful with the March Brown hatch requires an imitation that floats drag free and must pass a close inspection by the trout. Timing of the presentation is critical because the feeding trout won’t break their rhythm very often. For those unwilling or find it difficult to present a drag free drift to feeding fish, the chances of action during the hatch are increased dramatically with a soft hackle swing. Swinging soft hackle imitations under the first few inches of the surface film can provide anglers with some exciting, wet fly fishing. Activity of the hatch can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half.

Once a daily appearance of March Browns becomes consistent, as mentioned earlier, you can set your watch to the time of their emergence. On most days the hatch will begin sometime between 1:30 p.m and 2:00 p.m. Positioning yourself on a section of river that is consistently producing a prolific emergence each day can provide an angler with some exciting match the hatch fishing.

I can't wait to retire my Switch rod, shot, indicators and such for a while and break out my 5 weight.


March Brown research from and Rick Hafele at

Photos of March Brown's also from

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Casting Grip

When starting to learn to fly cast the first cast that is taught is an overhead cast, we all try to move the flyline back and forth along a straight path as effortlessly as possible. But before you start casting you’ve got to pick up a fly rod and hold it. How do we hold it? Holding a fly rod in your hand is referred to as the “Grip”. So we should be asking, how do we grip it. As we develop our own casting style it will have a lot do with how we stand and hold the rod and which grip we use.

Why do different fly fishers grip the rod differently? Why have different grips developed over time? One obvious reason is that hand sizes vary, but beyond that, more advanced anglers change their grips in order for their fly rod to perform different tasks. For example, someone who fishes mostly small streams with short, delicate casts is likely to prefer a grip that enhances sensitivity and increased feel of the rod tip. Yet a fly fisher who fishes heavy rods and lines might look for a grip that provides the strength to force a bend into a stiff rod.

When deciding on what grip works best for you there is a decision to be made between sensitivity and strength. The comfort of a grip is also important, but seems to care of itself, people seldom continue to cast with a grip that feels uncomfortable.

Thumb on Top Grip

The Thumb on Top Grip is recommended for beginning students because it provides the best balance of strength and sensitivity throughout a broad range of casting distances. It is the one that I use all the time and typically recommend.

The thumb on top grip is very similar to how you would grip a screw driver.

What happens when you cast with a thumb on top grip? When starting the cast with the tip pointed at the water or the ground when practicing, a thumb-on top grip will typically be rotated upward during the back cast to provide thumb support behind the forward cast.  A word of caution, you need to be careful of not getting “wristy” with this grip.

Some people however turn their hands outward during the back cast and may make the forward cast with the reel out to the side.  This further complicates the notion of this grip, because the hand position during the cast is then different from the one taught to start the movements. Thus, those who rotate their hands outward may grasp the rod with the thumb on top, but make the forward cast with the thumb off to the side.  This would be considered to be a variation once you start the forward cast. Not all bad, just a variation.

Some people like to use the thumb as a directional guide on the forward cast. This is where the expression “point your thumb towards your target” comes from.

The Extended Fore Finger Grip

Another grip that sometimes is useful is the Extended Fore Finger grip. For example, if a caster is applying excessive force, changing to the Extended Fore Finger Grip will work for a more sensitive feel of the rod.

Although extending the forefinger is generally regarded in casting literature as a weak grip, some very well known casters use versions of it to throw impressively long casts with trout-weight rods.  Yet most of these casters, if not all, switch to a stronger grip when using heavier, stiffer rods.  Advocates of the extended-forefinger grip claim another advantage, that of eliminating excessive ‘wristiness’ in students.

The Extended Fore Finger Grip is not as robust or comfortable as the thumb on top grip. The Extended Finger on top is often used by many fly fishers when using lighter equipment on small streams and rivers. The proponents of this grip feel that it provides them with a better pivot point for accurate presentations.

The V Grip or Palm Out Grip

The V grip entails placing the thumb to the side of the rod handle. As a result the handle dissects the space between the thumb and the index finger. It is said by some expert fly casters that this grip provides “the most complete overall level of control.

There is some disagreement as to which is the strongest grip.  One grip may bring stronger muscles into play, whereas another provides more rigid support from the hand.

What Kind of Pressure with the Grip

Some people cast with variations of these distinctive grips.  Yet with any grip, it is possible to hold the rod too tightly.  One guideline for checking this is to think of holding the rod as if holding a bird in the hand, tightly enough to keep it from escaping, but not so tight as to squeeze it.


Try these three grips and see what feel right for you. Get out on the lawn and practice and then you should be able to make the best choice.

FFT Techniques - Nymphing - Fishing a Drop-Off with a Downstream Presentation

When wading on the Lower Yuba, and for that matter almost any freestone river in the Western United States you will sometimes encounter drop offs at the base of the riffles. I'm going to go over the tactics for nymphing these drop-offs with a downstream presentation from a location just upstream of the drop-off. This method works when you find yourself fishing the drop-off from the inside and you are standing in relatively shallow water.
Next time you’re out fishing try this;
 Rigg up with a large thingamabobber at about 1 1/4 times the depth of the water in the the run directly below the drop-off.
 Use enough weight to get the flies down but not hanging up constantly.
 Place yourself in a position that is about 15 feet or so above the drop-off.
 This method is for fishing the drop-off with a downstream presentation and you will be in direct contact with your flies for most of the drift.
 If a fish takes, your indicator will shoot away from you and then you will feel the take.
A variation of this method can be effective when caddis and mayflies are hatching out of the riffles.
So Here’s How to Do It.
(1) Place your cast above the drop-off about 6 to 8 feet above the drop-off, targeting the drop-off spot that is the closest to your position.

(2) The cast needs to be a straight line cast and the flies, shot, and indicator should land in a straight line.

(3) When the flies land they will drop and tumble down the face of the drop-off if you have enough shot on. If you are not hanging up from time to time you need to add more shot.

(4) Follow the indicator with your rod tip down the drop and once they have floated about 7 or eight feet throw a big upstream mend directly above the indicator and feed down a ways into the run.

(5) Pick up and re-cast to the next line 1 to 1 1/2 feet further out.

(6) Continue to work the water out as far as is reasonable.

(7) When using this technique 1/2 to 2/3 of the drift will be tight lined and the remainder will be dead drifted. That is the goal.

Try this method and you’ll have success!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

FFT Techniques - Nymphing a Run or a Riffle Corner

I'm doing a series of articles talking about useful techniques for fishing the Lower Yuba River and really for anywhere your fishing passions take you. This one is about nymphing a run or a riffle corner.
On the Lower Yuba River you will find many runs that are prime targets for holding fish. These are portions of the river that flow with an even depth from 4 to 8 feet deep. You will also encounter riffle corners at the base of a riffle. This is a v-shaped slot that if you’re looking up stream you will see the soft spot right at the top of the vee. This spot and the soft water downstream of it are one of the prime spots for fish to hold and feed as the nymphs get pushed down the riffles and into these soft side waters. This is especially true if there have been hatches in the days prior.
The first rule when fishing a run or a riffle corner is not to step into the water, before you have “cleared it”. You must fish the runs and riffle corners from the bank or you’ll likely be stepping on fish. You what to use the “Borger Shotgun Method” and thoroughly cover the water before you step into it.
So, let’s go through how to do it
(1) First off you want to envision lines running parallel to the current running downstream about 1 to 1 1/2 foot apart.
(2) These are the lines you’ll be running your flies and indicator through.
(3) Set your indicator to roughly 1 1/4 times the depth of the water you’ll be fishing and make sure you have enough shot on. More than you think.
(4) Feed out line directly below you the distance that you want to cast upstream.
(5) Once the line is out, point your rod tip at the indicator downstream.
(6) Set up your footing so you are facing partially upstream.
(7) With a smooth deliberate motion, pick the line up and follow through upstream and point your thumb at the target area.
(8) The flies, shot and indicator hit the water up stream and your ready to start fishing.
(9) Raise your rod tip as the indicator and flies start downstream (High Stick) keeping most of the line off the water.
(10) As the indicator floats downstream, and then floats just past you position, mend the line upstream of the indicator and then lower the rod tip as they move downstream.
(11) Once they are at the end of the drift let the indicator and flies swing directly below you and then do it all over again but place your cast 1 to 1 1/2 feet further out (on the next line).
You repeat this until you’ve reached all the water in front of you where you think might hold fish. Once you’ve fishing 15 feet or so out from the bank you can carefully and stealth fully start wading in to enable placing your casts further out. Most of the water close to you can be fished with a fixed amount of line. As you fish further out you will need to keep mending, possibly stack mending and using good line management techniques to keep your rigg dead drifting correctly.
This is the basic nymphing technique that you can employ wherever you roam. Once you add mending skills and line handling skills you will have all the basics down and you will have then be a successful nympher!

Teaching and Learning To Fly Cast

How do we teach someone to cast a fly. How do we learn to cast a fly? That’s not a simple question.

I’ve been doing fly fishing techniques clinics, educational guiding as well as doing fly casting workshops. At the casting workshops it seems like there is always one person attending a workshop who asks questions like, "How long should I pause?” or “How long should my stroke be? " It seems they are asking for an absolute answer. The answer should be it's not an absolute because it depends on how much line you are carrying. You really need to watch each student cast and determine the best course of action. Should we go back to the beginning and build the cast from the beginning. In a lot of cases the answer is yes. You need to start with good form.

Most casting flaws tie to the lack of basic good form and bio-mechanics. In most cases there just isn’t one definite answer to solve a problem. In fly casting many factors dictate the end result. A fly casting instructor must be able to identify problems with the form and mechanics of the cast and explain how to solve them. This isn't easy.

Fly Casting instructors’ perspectives are very similar to golf instructors. A golf instructor will often say to a student, "We've got to rebuild your stroke from the beginning."  With fly casting it's often the same, we need to rebuild the mechanics of the stoke.

In golf, most of the “how to” information comes from pros who unquestionably play well.  However these pros seldom agree on such basics as grip, stance, and ball position.Our fly fishing world is very similar.  Professional fly casting instructors have different styles and forms but they all seem to have a teaching method to get the job done. Their end results are almost exactly the same, but their routes to getting there may have differences. They all teach solid bio mechanics.

Obviously most professional fly fishing instructors, however convoluted their path to becoming a teacher, have gained a lot of experience and have had lots of successes, first with fishing and then in teaching. The doing, fishing, came first.

In relation to us non professional fly casting teachers, I’m certain that the majority first learned to cast a fly and to fish, and then later attempted to analyze and communicate their acquired skills. That’s my path for sure. I learned to fly cast and catch fish. A do it yourself, bang away at it kind of thing. Over time I sort of figured it out by doing not by analysis of good form. Things are changing!

In retrospect, I think that one of the most beneficial things someone could do, fly casting instructors and students alike, is to study good fly casting form and understand the bio mechanics of what constitutes good form. Learn the essentials required to execute a good cast and then practice these essentials. Having an instructor that can communicate these essentials in a way that makes them understandable can make all the difference. As fly casting instructors we need to work on being good communicators. As students we must become good listeners. We both should study the FFF's recommended "Five Essentials to a Good Cast". That will assure that we get started down the right road.

So in summary, become a student of the sport, seek knowledge, learn what constitutes good form and make it your own. As an instructor inspire your students to new heights.

Good Luck and Tight Loops.

By the way, here's a link to the "5 Essentials"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fly Casting - The Endless Persuit

I've recently started getting more involved with teaching fly casting. I'm organizing fly casting workshops for our local fly fishing club, the Gold Country Fly Fishers. For myself it's been a personal pursuit for my whole life of fly fishing up to this time. I don't mean the teaching, I'm talking about figuring out how to become a better fly caster myself.

You know what, teaching makes you a better fly caster. I've found myself spending many hours practicing myself to prepare myself to teach a group and there are new discoveries and light bulbs going off all the time. I mean when everyone talks about stopping the rod, where the heck are you supposed to stop it? How firm? You sort of know the answers intuitively from fishing for so many years but how do you get it out of your intuition and break it down into spoken words and explain it? These are things that you just have to get right in your head before you start trying to teach it and explain it to someone else.

I'm going to document my journey as a fly casting instructor here on this blog and hopefully my journey will be beneficial to anyone else who has a yearning to teach fly casting or anyone that is learning to cast a fly. I'll be preparing to take the test to become a FFF Certified Casting Instructor while I'm at it. Do I really care if I'm certified, not really. Life for me has always been proof is in doing. I'm just going to head that direction and see where it takes me.

I'll be posting stories about the how to become a better fly casting instructor as well as the how to's. I'll share casting drills and ways to practice out on your lawn or ball field. I'll get technical when I need and keep it light when I can.  Hopefully we'll all get better being fly casting instructors and fly casters alike.

Enjoy the ride!