So here’s that puzzle again.
I saw a fish rising at the arrow and called Gene over to see if he could catch the trout. Gene threw a right reach cast and the fly landed upstream of the rising fish. As the fish came up for the fly, the fast water between Gene and the fish, pulled the fly away.
I then told Gene to make a cast he had never done before and on the second try, he hooked the fish. There are actually two casts that can catch the fish by producing enough slack for the fly to reach the fish. What are the two casts?
The same cast allows an angler to fish in the slot B or on the other side of the A.
I showed Gene a Puddle Cast which is often also called a pile cast (I reserve the pile cast for an entirely different cast).
In this cast you make a high forward cast with a wide
loop. Then you immediately drop the rod tip to the water to "kill" the cast. The leader will collapse in a pile or puddle of slack leader and tippet. Gene combined that with a right reach mend. That created enough slack to catch the fish.
If you need more slack, keep adding mends until you need to follow the line with the rod across your body to the left to extend the drift. That series of casts, and mends will give you the longest drift.
The puddle or pile cast is the best cast when there are conflicting and unpredictable currents such as rises in an eddy or whirlpool.
This is a graphic of the puddle cast. In the graphic, the cast is performed straight which will lay slack along the entire cast, but what we want is most of the slack at the end of the cast. Aiming the cast high over the target and dropping the rod tip piles the line up at the end, especially if you have a wide loop that does not extend fully collapses on itself.
Here is a video of the puddle cast in my terminology but called a pile cast on YouTube. To get a puddle at the the very end of the leader, direct the cast more in an upward trajectory and widen the loop. You can also slip some line as the cast unfurls to further “kill” the cast.
Here is a photo of that Gary took of Jason making a combined right reach puddle mend. Jason directs cast upward and then mended the rod to the right and down. The fly land close to the opposite bank for a drag free float.
You should note that the “puddle cast” is really a puddle mend. The fly line is mended DOWN after the cast.
In the photo above, Jason mended down and to the right.
Unlike the Puddle Mend, the Pile Cast is a true cast.
The cast is performed with a full stop and there is no mend after the stop.
The Pile cast is a Tuck cast performed with an air resistant fly and a very limp tippet
that cannot "flip" over in a tuck.
The Tuck and Pile casts use the same principle, but are not the "same" cast. In the tuck cast, the fly hits the water first and in the pile cast, the fly hits the water last.
Both casts use an overhead overpowered cast that cause the loop to "flip" over itself. The Tuck is usually used with a Weighted Nymph which drive the nymph down into the water downstream of the falling leader and line. The Pile cast is done with an air resistant Dry Fly using a very limber and longer tippet so it cannot flip the fly over. The leader tries to flip over BUT CANNOT because of the air resistant dry fly which acts like a mini parachute holding back the tippet and leader. So the fly line flips over and the leader and fly flutter down in a pile.
Same casting motion but different results.
Here is the illustration of the two casts from Jason Borger's book. The Tuck is the more solid line than flips completely over. The Pile shows the trailing distal leader and tippet with the trailing air resistant dry fly.
When one can perform both casts, there is an advantage to the pile cast over the puddle mend. Because the puddle mend is a high trajectory and depends on gravity to puddle the line/leader it is less accurate than the pile. Any wind or gust can make the puddle useless.
Secondly, I use this cast when casting over a section of fast water to a slot of feeding fish behind or ahead of a rock. On the puddle, the line closest to you falls to the water first and this means the line is being dragged downstream before the fly lands. You get a shorter and less accurate drift with the puddle.
On the pile cast, the leader lands first and before the line so you get the fly on the water before the line hits the water and pulls on the leader.
So use the pile cast when you can.
Why would you not always use the pile?
You cannot use the pile UNLESS the fly is sufficiently air resistant. A second problem is distance. I can make a puddle at a distance that is too far for me to do a pile with my level of skill.
Here is a photo of place where the pile or puddle are the only two casts that will work. The fish are feeding in seam "A" and you need to cast from the bank at "B" across that fast water. This is a different boulder than in the earlier photo. These situations occur all the time on the Madison River, and very few fly fishers can successfully fish them but now you known how it is done.