I was out fishing the Susquehanna River this past weekend. I got out about 6:30 AM and so far I really like Dry flies so I started with them. For me it adds something to the catch when you see the strike on the top of the water. Anyway, I caught 3 decent size smallies in the first 45 minutes of fishing. I feel like I could have done much better, but I was constantly tangling my leader. At one point I actually had about 4 knots that formed on the end of the leader and tippett. Twice I had to cut lines and retie a piece of tippett. What might be the cause of this? I felt my casting was pretty good as far as dropping the fly onto the water smooth, but It seemed like the fly kept catching the fly line as it was unrolling. Any suggestions as to what I might be doing wrong?
You'll get plenty of suggestions from the local pros here. Let me give you a bit of amatuer commentary.
You're going to deal with a tangles for a little while - that's just part of the deal when you're starting out (you are starting out, right?).
The easiest way for me to keep away from a tangled leader is to watch my loop. If your loop is getting to tight you're likely to tangle - to my knowledge it should have a candy cane profile. When I throw a tandem rig, with multiple flies, I usually have to keep my loop a bit open to keep out of tangles.
I also like using loop to loop connections between the line and leader, and I find that it helps ME from getting tangled as much, but maybe this isn't the case for everyone.
More than likely, it is your casting as can be monitored by keeping an eye on your loops. Try giving that backcast a little more time to straighten out. I used to spend LOTS of time watching my backcast, and only when I started fishing more regularly did I develop a better sense of feel and timing, which now precludes me from having to watch it so often.
Pros - correct me if I'm wrong.
By the way, what part of the Susquehanna are you fishing? Have you caught anything other than bass there?
Burns is right. You may have too many flies on the line and it sounds very much that you are getting into wind knots. Make sure you bring the rod to the 10: AM position. The line may be dropping back and when you are bringing the line forward you may be applying too much power. Also check your wrist action. Hope this helps. S.D.
Let me start by answering you're questions. I am VERY new to FlyFishing. I have a total of about 10 hours on the water and double that in the back yard.
I was fishing the Susquehanna in NE PA, 5 miles north of Wilkes-Barre. This was my first Fly trip to the river. I only caught 5 fish in a 3 hour outing - all small mouths in the 12 - 15" range. Until this trip, I have been practicing for an hour here and there on a small lake near my house playing with the BlueGills. I have fished the Susquehanna many times before on a spinning reel. I have only ever caught Smallies, Walleye, and Suckers. Alot of people around here fish at night for the channel catties and carp. I'm not a big fan of night fishing, which is when most guys go out for them.
OK, back to my problem. I have been paying very close attention to the 10 and 2 motion, and not breaking by wrist. Despite my minimal experience, I am very good at the 25-30' cast. I was actually told by the guy I took lessons from that it looked like I had fly fished for years when I was casting in the 30' range. He didn't feel the same about my 40' cast... I was having problems with the 40-45' casts. I try not to have to cast that far, but where I was fishing, I had 2 choices to get to where the fish are, wade to my chest or cast 45'. I think I may have been trying to power the rod too much. I was really letting it load up and shooting it forward. I was using my body as well as my elbow to generate the "snap". Other than the fly hitting the line as it rolled out, it looked like it was going to be a nice cast.
You could be having several problems. You may be over powering your cast and this will cause your problem. You may be dipping the tip instead of keeping it in a relative flat plane. Remember that the fly follows the same path as the rod tip. So if you dip the rod tip during your stroke the fly will also dip down. The third thing is your don't have enough line speed and the fly is falling downward before it un-rolls. Tight loops are a good thing if you have adequate line speed.
You should be able to carry 30' of fly line in the air. You might want to pull out a measured 30' of fly line on the grass. With 30' of fly line laying on the grass and the rod is extended out and pointed at the ground, grip the fly line under your fore finger. Now take a marking pen and mark the fly line at the first guide so you can see it. Or mark it at just in front of the grip. Now when you practice you should get line out until the mark appears at the appropriate place and practice your cast. This will help you know when you have 30' of line out and make it easier to repeat your cast. With 30' of fly line and a 9' leader you are at 40'. When you can cast that well then practice shooting 5' of line and then 10' of line. You are not making a 45' to 50' cast. This stuff is simple.
There's 2 things that are likely causing your problem: either not letting the loop straighten out enough, or throwing the dreaded 'tailing loop'.
Fixes to not letting the loop straighten out enough have been covered pretty thoroughly above.
Tailing loops are a bit trickier. They are generally caused by applying too much power too early on in the casting stroke. This causes too much bend in the rod, which it recovers from DURING the casting stroke, instead of after you have stopped the stroke. The process of overly bending early, and then the quick recovery from that causes the path of the rod tip to be concave. (like Frank was referring to when talking about the straight line path of the rod tip)
To fix, accelerate gradually through the casting stroke, but accelerate all the way through it. This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it is the most basic key to a good cast. Mel Kreiger's way of teaching it is by coaching the student to say or think "whump" during the casting stroke. I find that having that in mind helps while trying to eliminate tailing loops.
Tailing loops are also the actual cause of what are generally referred to as wind knots, or those formed when a caster is using extra power to fight the wind. If its windy, and the breeze is putting some added chop onto the water, you can get closer to the fish without spooking them. This is the simplest way to eliminate "wind knots"/tailing loops.
When I went out this past weekend, 3 hours saturday, and 3 hours sunday, I had much better luck after incorporating some of these tips. I do not believe my problem was related to not allowing the line to straighten before starting the opposite motion. What I do believe I was doing is trying to put too much power behind my cast. On Saturday, I tested myself. I was really smooth on the 30' casts. I had no issues with tangles. When I let out about 10 more feet of line I found myself trying to really muscle the line and that's when I started catching the line with the leader and ended up getting knots in my leader. I forced myself to continue to use that much line, but focused on a much smoother acceleration in my backcast as well as my forward cast. I found myself getting a puddle of line on the water here and there when I slowed it too much, but overall I thing I was getting a better cast and wasn't seeing the fly hooking the fly line.
I had a great day Sunday. I started with a new leader and came home with no knots.
That is good to hear. As I recall you are using a 9' 6wt rod. I don't think you are using enough fly line and properly loading the fly rod. A 30' cast is only using 12' of fly line, 9' leader and 9' rod. Now if you mean that you are casting 30' of fly line then you are doing just great. I always recommend that beginners make the fly line so they know when they have 30' of fly line in the air.
Surfin,all the advise you have been givin here is 100% on the mark.Burns,your advise is just as valuable as any one elses on here,nice job!
It shouldnt surprise me anymore that the kind words of wisdom on this site are always right on the mark when such anglers as Big Cliff and Frank are lurking about.This is a little off topic and I dont mean to do any high Jacking,but I recall a time not to long ago (perhaps 10 years or so)that fly anglers where very stand offish when it came to helping fellow anglers out.Its sites like this one(although I have yet to find another)that really help further our sport and make me proud to be a member of this site.
Tight Lines All