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Pocono 06-03-2012 05:43 AM

Casting Into Thin Air
I had an instance last Summer where I cast a fly out there and a fish took it before it hit the water (yes, I landed the fish, but it was close; I was totally unprepared for a hook set). That got me thinking more about presentation and that got me thinking more about casting and where I cast to.

What I've been doing this year is casting high; my "target" is about 1 1/2 - 3 ft. above where I want the fly to land. Right, I'm casting into thin air. But, what that allows is for the fly to "float" down to the surface of the water; about as soft a presentation as I think you can get.

I'm reasoning that the floating down is, perhaps, viewed more naturally by the trout and that this triggers a strike either while the fly is still in the air or almost immediately after it lands on the surface.

The only thing that you have to watch for is snap-back from the line, because without water attachment to the line, the fly can get pulled back easily by the tension of the cast line. It's not a big issue, but it is something that I'm paying more attention to now.

Recently this year I've chalked up quite a few fish that have taken my fly either in the air or just as it hits the surface. So, for me, there's something that's working here.

I intend to keep casting into thin air; I think it really helps with my presentation. Anyone else with the same or similar experience?


cattech89 06-03-2012 07:12 AM

Re: Casting Into Thin Air
Nice observations! Ive had this happen to me once, however, I was not as succesful. Fortunately the guy who introduced me to fly fishing was very anal about his dry presentations and he always stressed that flys fall into the water not land like geese. :D
I never really noticed what I was doing until you explained it so well but I guess I have been doing the same.
Thanks for sharing...

axle27 06-03-2012 07:46 AM

Re: Casting Into Thin Air
Ya know, even when I'm lawn casting, I think about this. I try to get the flyline to straighten out about 2 ft above the targe area. However, I'm not real good at getting things to "straighten out" in this way. I don't know why, but I can hit the zone with the line unrolling along the surface and the fly daintily landing within the zone...this can be a bear when you have conflicting currents between you and the drop zone. I should really have someone to critique my casting.

jaybo41 06-03-2012 09:03 AM

Re: Casting Into Thin Air
Good post. Your observations make for a good read. I have not been lucky enough to have a fish take a fly in mid air. I have had occasions where I've dropped a fly delicately down to the water and had an immediate strike. It's always good to have a technique that you have confidence in. By all means if you find something that's effective, stick with it.

On the few occasions I've fished a furled leader, my impressions were that they REALLY excel for dry fly fishing due to the delicate landing. I think I don't fish them as much because I am usually nymphing until the fish start looking up. Maybe I need to rethink this.

jpbfly 06-03-2012 11:38 AM

Re: Casting Into Thin Air
Allan,it happened to Nico once...and ....a few years ago I was fishing with Batistou when my tippet fell on a little branch on the opposite bank:rolleyes:(which doesn't often happen:D)the fly was hanging a few inches above the surface when a bow took it:eek:....didn't do anything but the fish was a red card from Batistou for this stroke of luck:D:teef:

wjc 06-03-2012 11:51 AM

Re: Casting Into Thin Air

Very good post!

Back in the day when time passed slowly, fish were plentiful, fly fishermen scarce, and personal responsibilities were few, I spent a whole lot of time in a tent or hammock next to prime rivers, ponds and lakes. But spent even more standing in cold water waving a bamboo stick in my hand.

One of the techniques I developed for trout that seemed to be asleep in a lie was to immitate a "hatch" of spinners landing on the surface. What I would do is cast so that only the fly, and as little leader as possible would land on the water, then I would go into another backcast immediately and do it again. I would not leave the fly on the water long enough for hardly any tippet (and no fly line at all) to land.

I would cast repeatedly like this just within the fish's viewing zone but far enough away that the fly couldn't be scrutinized closely and was a bit too far away for the fish to leave his lie and go for it. Eventually, I'd move the fly right on the fringe of his estimated feeding area and then into it. This technique sometimes actually worked, and smaller fish would often take the fly in the air before it landed once it got within range.

I was describing this technique to a very accomplished and well-known fly fisherman and casting instructor not many years ago and he said " you mean a series of "tuck casts"." I had no idea anyone else did it, much less there was an actual name for the technique.

What I would do is hold the rod very high and cast with a slightly downward trajectory. As the loop unrolls, I would do a quick "pullback" with the rod followed immediately by a forward "drift" following the line with the rod tip. The pullback causes the fly to roll over at 90 degrees to the line in mid-air and land on the water before either the line or the leader. The forward drift was an easy method for me to add control to the speed of the turnover. EDIT And > very importantly< gets the rod tip into position for the next effective backcast (following the pullback which places the rod too vertical for an easy, controlled backcast).

At that time, I was using the old SA AirCell line which had the least density of any line on the market at the time, and consequently the most wind resistance. I don’t know if they’ve changed the formula or not, but it can be done with any line. Part of the trick to make this really work well was to balance the hook wire size (and consequently its weight) with the hackle wind resistance so the fly would land before the tippet.

It is a very fun way to cast as well as sharpen up your timing, play with loop diameter and trajectories, and fine tune the amount of force you use on the cast, pullback and so on.

Since I discovered the name for it, I’ve done some searches and found a very good video of what happens in that cast. It is a casting video and the cast comes at 1:17 in the video and again at about 1:24. He is doing it at a distance using a pretty dense floating line with very tight loops, so the amount of force he is using is more that what would be required in most river fishing scenarios where I used to use it. But you can easily see that, had he wanted to, he could have gone immediately into another backcast before much leader had landed.

The caster is an immensely talented fly caster and this is the best casting video I’ve seen as well as one with superb videography for those of you who haven’t seen it. It is well worth watching even if you don't fly cast for its artistry. It has been put up on this board before and likely this won't be the last time.

Replay the 1:17 cast several time while looking at the caster (if you can force yourself not to watch the line) and you will see the pullback I spoke of. You can also stop the video and will eventually see it as well if you try it enough.

Sorry for the long post.

theboz 06-03-2012 08:14 PM

Re: Casting Into Thin Air
Terrific post Allan. So true for trout during a hatch presentation can mean the difference between success and failure. I believe in the same philosophy I used in teaching my son and daughters to shoot 3 pointers in basketball. Pushed them not to aim for the hoop or the backboard. Instead to aim for the air above the hoop. Found that in casting for me it works the same way not aim at the rise but instead the air above the rise . When I do this the fly seems to land softly and where I want it. Sounds funny but when you start to see "the air" and can hit it presentation is so improved!
The announcers in college used to call her 3s rainbow shots. Just what we called the rising trout casts!:pU

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