I have noticed lately that my 3 wt. likes to track not straight. (notice I am placing the blame on the rod and not my extraordinary casting ability.... )
For reference, I can punch a heavier line and longer rod (my 9'-- 5 or 6 or even 8 wts.) into a tight 2 to 3 foot wide opening into standing dead wood from 30 or 40 feet away. With my 3 wt., The cast doesn't punch and unroll straight-- It is analog to a slice in one's golf swing..... kind of unrolls in an inside to outside path.
The rod is 7'6" and is (of course) a 3 wt. I can get it to the distance, but not a straight unrolling of the line.
I'm guessing a straight loop at 40 feet is possibly too much to ask of a short(er) 3 wt. rod.???
What's the weather conditions?
The slightest breeze will take that light line off course.
What kind of fly are you casting?
With a #14 foam fly I often have a cast that ends up with the leader at almost a 90º angle (looks like the letter L) when the line lands on the water. I credit that condition to a vagrant puff of wind I often don't even feel where I'm standing. The line is heavy enough to land straight, but the wind catches the fly as the loop rolls over.
I use a 7' 3wt and have never actually measured casting distance, but I can easily get into the running line on a wf line, so I'm guessing it's over 40'.
Normally, I'd agree with you, but you haven't seen my impeccable cast. In fact they don't call me Tony "the Hack Job" Hacksterson for nothing, you know....
I also agree that the 3 wt. isn't the tool of choice if pin-point accuracy at 40+ feet is a regularity-- fortunately it is not a common distance. There is just a nice little pocket that looks really fishy back there and I wanted to explore- and happened to be fishing my 3 wt. at the time.
By the way: went back with a 5 wt. another day and reached it without issue. Guess what? No bites in my fishy looking pocket either.
And Mike: I know what you mean about breezes and flies with the lighter rod... It was a 14 BH nymph. As to the measuring my distance-- I am just basing off of my mark at 30' on the fly line that I put on all of my lines. I make the mark because that is what is typically considered the working line length.
Looks like I'm gonna have to concede that I am just not a good enough caster to get my 3 wt. into that pocket. Oh well.
I would be curious as to others that fish 3 wts. with some consistency experiences with the tracking and accuracy of their casts. (we all make casts that look fantastic-- right by that particular hold or tree or whatever-- unfortunately, we were aiming for the other hold several feet away).... LOL.
"Punching" 3 wts. doesn't work for me; maybe a little snap just before the stop, but that's about it. You really have to let the rod do the work. I find this to be true; particularly as you go to lighter wt. rods. A stiff, fast action 5 or 6 wt. can be punched; although it's not ideal for me.
I've listened a lot to everyone who has said "let the rod do the work", and in every case, I've found that they're right.
I also like a slower action rod in the lighter weights. For a 7'6" 3 wt. I'm usually either fishing a glass blank (Diamondglass) or a slower carbon blank (like Sage's ZXL).
If the wind is not throwing your line off target on you, then I think you should be able to get a 40' cast to do what you've described in your original post.
But, following on from what Cliff said, you'll need good casting form to get accuracy at a distance with the lighter wt. rods.
What fly line are you using? 7'6" 3w's lack power at 40'. It's a small stream rod. But it might like a TT taper line and be good at that distance once in a while. I've said it before, some rods like certain lines and a dog rod can become a gem with the right line. They are NOT created equal.
Plus, what rod is it? Fast taper, medium or full flex.
The rod is a Cabelas Three Forks-- pretty soft. I don't know that I'd call it a full flex, but it is probably a little closer to full flex than the literature's claim of moderate action.....
The line is what I assume to be Cabelas entry level line (the prestige perhaps????) WF-- Bought as a combo because I couldn't pass up a good deal (out the door with the complete Three Forks combo and a complete Cahill combo for under $90.00-- the 3 forks gets used and I gave the Cahill to a friend who is learning to fly fish.)
All in all, I'm not overly concerned with the 'issue'-- If I'm putting into that tight of cover, a 3 wt. really isn't the rod for the job-- no keeping a 4 pounder out of the submerged logs with a 3 wt.
It does put nymphs and smaller dries over the weeds nicely-- It has its place in my 'needs', just not a do all rod (obviously).
Once the weeds get too thick (which is happening too quickly here), the 3 wt. goes to the closet to not be seen again until Oct. or Nov.
I have some tight water nearby that it shines in-- sunnies and stocker rainbows....
I noticed the "punching" term, too. When I was using my girlfriend's 7'6" 3 weight Redington CT, the line would go off track at distances over 30 feet. I was yanking my forward haul very hard. Once I relaxed that motion, my longer casts were back on track.
If you are double hauling, back off a bit. Relax the forward haul some, and don't push the rod too hard. Give that a try.
Two things: to achieve a "punch" you're going to need a tight loop, period. Get that right, and then work on poking that tighter loop (which also will most likely have increased line speed) where you need it.
Another matter to consider is your fly, particularly its specific combination of weight and aerodynamics. A 3wt isn't ideal for flies with much weight or bulk, due to the reduced power of a light line to turn a fly over. However, a fly with the right combo of weight and size could help.
For example, last friday I was fishing my 3wt and throwing a variety of flies, many of which are thought of as being too large for a 3wt. A brass eyed size 6 clouser was tough to cast far due to its weight and a tendency to drop on the back cast, and a size 6 popper with a cupped face was tough to cast over 30' due to poor aerodynamics. However, I was quite pleased with how well a size 6 bendback cast. It had just the right combination of weight and profile to cast REALLY well on such a light rod, which is nice considering it was about 2" long.
The bendback was similar to these, except tied on a size 6 34011 hook, without lead on the shank, and with prism eyes instead of doll eyes-
I'm not an expert caster, but I do have the same exact Cabela's combo. So, take whatever I say with a grain of salt.
I can cast this rig 40 ft, but I can't recall ever catching a fish at that distance with it. It took me some time to get comfortable with this rod, but once I learned to let the rod do 90% of the work I started to really enjoy fishing with it. Also, almost all the streams I fish are about 20 ft wide at their widest, so most of my casts tend to be under 20 ft.
I have just learned to double haul this year with any consistency, but I was single hauling on the forward cast most of last year, and this can help straighten out my casts with this little rod. But I can't haul very hard; mostly it's just a wrist haul. I use this trick a lot when I fish my 3 wt. from my tube, but it works just as well when I'm on my feet.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark