‘…On a good day I can cast ‘x’ number of yards, on a bad day I struggle to hit ‘z’ yards.’
Where ‘x’ is a lot and ‘z’ is not that many!
Rudy Van Duinjhoven in Wexford
Sometimes your preparation for a fishing session is meticulous to the point of obsession. It makes you feel good, and in control. You have prepared well, with a nice range of flies, lines, tippet, gear and you have done some planning around weather wind and tides. You’re focused, and on the drive down you feel calm and look forward to some hours of saltwater fly-fishing, the anticipation builds nicely as it’s your first time out in 10 days. It couldn’t be better.
Then somewhere between the third and tenth cast of your fishing you decide you want to go home. The cast is dumping and crashing, tailing loops are of phenomenal quality and distance well....at its worst you want to turn the rod into a javelin aimed at the vile heart of the cruel sea, go stomping and muttering back to the car, kick the rabbit you saw on the way down the path, and at the top of lane stop the car and bite and punch the steering wheel whilst growling like a mad dog. The following words perversely go through your mind 'With good casting technique you can place the fly where you want it, effortlessly and with precision and grace,...' they dont do anything to improve your mood.
The loneliness of the long distance fly caster (or not) as the case may be!
If you are already a capable caster in terms of both distance and presentation, in most saltwater conditions, then you can usually weather these storms and pour some oil on the issues. But if you are new to the sea or indeed flycasting then its more of a problem. Without the experience or indeed a number of 'negative casting' experiences how can we learn to deal with the above? Or more importantly can we recognise the early signs of a bad day and find a middle ground, not X or Z but Y perhaps?
I think the important thing to remember is that it happens to everyone, and it happens less often than you might think. When it happens to me I tend to stop fishing very quickly. And for a while, I sit and watch someone else casting or simply watch the birds go by. I know that I probably wont cast to 'x' this time out but when I try again I make short accurate casts with small flies - if it works out then fine, I might make the move to further and bigger but only slowly, and sometimes I have to retreat! This is where 'y' exists - I am flyfishing within my limits and still enjoying it.
Rather than persisting with the agony of a poor casting day it pays to take time out and to think about turning it around. You can do this by using many techniques but my favourite is to start again after a while and push little by little until you move from casting mode to fishing mode and once again you begin to think and feel this might be ok - there might be a fish behind that rock over there - pull through the cast, stop, yes, not perfect but ok......coming around now.....was that a follow?
some tips to use when things are not working out from a casting point of view
- Only put the amount of line you want to cast in your line tray
- dont put the biggest fly in the box on first
- dont try to cast to the horizon with your first casts
- if you are using heavy sinking lines or big flies - open you loops and slow down
- try to determine where and how the fish are feeding
- if they are blitzing on baitfish then presentation or distance wont be a problem
- if they are visible then they must be reasonably close - but wary!
- at night fish are very close - very!
- a current can often carry your fly to the fish!
- overlining your rod by one can often bring back that 'feeling'
- take you time and relax