I agree with both of you, but by adding split shot or weighting our flies we are putting a concentrated weight in a specific spot. Look at it this way.
The first 30 feet of a five weight line weighs 140 grains, or about 2.5 grains per inch. Two small split shot weigh twice that and take up less than an inch. If we also add a weighted fly we get a bolo or pendulum effect between these two points in our line which, I maintain, is what screws up our cast. In other words, we have upset the smooth weight taper of our fly line. If we add an indicator, the situation becomes even worse.
There must be a better way to get the fly down quickly.
Flyflinger, I understand what you're saying, and agree to some extent. I never use split shot. I don't even use it with other tackle, as there are better weights available. Also don't use indicators of any type.
I do however add weight to many of my flies, some are very heavily weighted. In such case, I'm usually using a heavy wt rod, such as an 8, 9 or 10, and a short, stout leader. With sinking lines my leaders are shorter than what I use with floating lines. Sometimes I use a straight section of line, sometimes a furled leader, and sometimes a hand tied tapered leader. Depends on the flies I'm using, the current & the depth of the water. I use un-weighted flies as well.
I'm primarily fishing for bass or Striped Bass with such a setup, and sometimes in strong currents or deeper water. Still, I consider it fly casting. The line is what I'm casting, and I've learned to adjust for the added weight in the fly.
You can get an unweighted fly down by using various sinking lines. How deep you can go depends on the line you're using, and the water (current & depth), but you do need to use shorter leaders ( 2 to 4 normally, no longer than 6 ft) to allow the line weight to pull the fly down. A long leader (over 6 ft) may cause the fly to ride up above the line in the water, particularly when fishing in current, so it's negates the sinking of the line, and you lose control over the fly. In other words, your line may be down where you want it, but you have no idea where the fly ends up.
I learned this the hard way. I used to only use leader/tippet combinations that were 71/2 to 9 ft long no matter what type of fly I was using. I had it in my head that I needed such a leader, so the fish could not see the fly line.
Fact is, in most cases, they don't care at all about that. I've caught bass & Stripers on flies with straight leaders of 18", and have seen them follow a fly tied on such a rig right back to me. I think in some situations, that fly line moving thru the water may even attract them to the fly.
I've also had discussions about fish seeing other lines, such as when jig fishing in shallow water for bass. I use heavy braid (50-65lb) much of the time, and use fl yellow braid, so it's easier for me to see and rarely use any type of leader. I still catch plenty of fish. I've used green line & clear lines too, right next to the fl yellow & caught fish using all of them. It's certainly possible that some fish are put off by the sight of the line, but it's been my experience that it really doesn't matter most of the time.
The only time I use a longer leader now is when fishing topwater flies, and even then it's rarely over 7 ft. This is to minimize the affect of the line hitting the water, but even then it often doesn't matter, especially if there is any wave action at all. With LM bass or SM Bass it may spook them in shallow water, with Stripers it rarely bothers them regardless of the water conditions. I would guess that many other species are the same way. On a glass smooth surface it might, and if you're casting tiny dry flies to trout, it might, but otherwise, 99% of the time that noise has little affect.
As far as "fly casting", at one time the only flies were small imitations of insects & small baitfish in the case of streamers. That has changed, to the point that most anything, any species of fish will eat, can be imitated by some type of fly. The equipment has evolved, and expanded to cover a range of fishing conditions & species, and as such so has the use of the such equipment and the techniques involved in casting the wide variety of "flies". Today, with fly tackle of the appropriate size, you can fish for anything from tiny brook trout to Billfish. Call it what you like, do it as you like, but it's still fly casting where the line is the weight that you are casting, and the fly is following along for the ride.
I for one love to see an angler casting small flies with those smooth tight loops, and a long line, such as might have been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. But, today that's not all of what fly fishing is about. If you limit yourself to just that type of fishing, IMO, you're missing out on some great adventures!
I've always found this to be an interesting debate, and it's one that comes up in fly fishing discussions often. Being from in the fly fishing industry, I get in to this discussion often myself.
Personally, I think that if anything, we are merely trying to dissect semantics here. Some are out to follow the old traditions of fly fishing, especially as it was done in the northeast for a long time. But different areas require different techniques, flies, lines, rods, etc in order to fish effectively. Where I live, traditional trout fly fishing is not particularly common, largely because good trout water is sparse at best. So we have developed our own tactics out this way for targeting the fish that are here; steelhead, salmon, sea run cutthroat, etc.
My job title is as an on staff pro for a fly fishing company. But I identify myself as an angler, not as a "fly fisher." For me, to spend time worrying what others might call what I do, or to pass up the effective techniques in favor of traditions developed on very different streams 3,000mi away for different fish, just to please the fly fishing gods, really takes away from the joy and spectacular experiences I am seeking.
We are getting off the subject which is how to make casting easier and more graceful while still being able to get a fly down deep quickly and getting it to drift in a natural manner.
First, we agree that in fly fishing we are casting the weight of the line.
We also agree that it is sometimes necessary to get our fly deep and do it rather quickly.
I think we also agree that concentrating weight at certain points upsets the smooth weight transition of our fly line and creates a "bolo" or pendulum effect.
If we can all agree on these things, then what can we do to correct the problems?
Some might say "use a full sinking line", but this causes additional problems. We have no idea what is happening to that line in the often conflicting currents under the surface and mending is impossible. A stripping basket is also needed to keep the stripped line from tangling on underwater objects.
Sink tips help to get our fly down also, but what density do we need (notice I said density, not weight, even though sink tips are marketed by weight rather than density) for each depth and current speed? This may require a large number of different lines, gets awfully expensive and takes a lot of time to switch from one to the other. This, incidentally, is favorable for the line manufacturers so we can expect them to support this idea. A 20 or 30 foot sink tip is also subject to the vagaries of conflicting underwater currents, just as sinking line is.
Although I appreciate the aesthetics of an unweighted fly on a long cast, that isn't reality for me.
I primarily fish narrow overhung spring creeks with deep, undercut banks. It is necessary to be able to get a nymph down 3 feet. And when a long cast is 20-25 feet, it is necessary to weight the nymph to get it down. This requires the use of an indicator for depth control.
I appreciate and respect the purists who only fish dries, or only unweighted nymphs with no indicators. However, when they suggest that I'm not "truly" fly fishing because of my choice of terminal tackle, it stings a bit. For me, "true fly fishing" is in understanding the trout and in presenting the right fly in the correct presentation to hook and land a trout. For me, the emphasis is on ecology rather than how pretty your cast looks.
Like BigJim, I have used heavily weighted flies, which is what started me thinking. This past summer I used big, articulated bunny leeches for King Salmon. The things weighed 30 grains and even on a short, 20# leader, at best they sort of "flopped over" at the end of the cast with my 10 weight rod.
I developed a casting style to accomodate but it was work and not particularly graceful.
---------- Post added at 12:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:22 PM ----------
Let me set things straight.
This is NOT a thread to debate whether dry fly fishing or "bottom dredging" is the proper way to fly fish. It IS a thread to discuss ways in which we can "bottom dredge" while still enjoying, as much as possible, the fluid grace of casting a dry fly!
Please, folks, let's not let this degenerate into a dry fly vs. nymph fishing argument!
I apologize for getting off the subject. I too thought as Evan that this was a matter of tradition rather than an issue of solving a problem.
First, do we agree that a fly rod is a tool?
If your problem is simply getting the fly down & catching fish, I think you have 3 basic options to solve your problem.
1)Change tools. Fly rods are not always the best to choose for some situations. I also use baitcasters & spinning tackle, as well as trolling tackle. I have used flies with all types of tackle when I felt the situation warranted.
2) Go with what is already available, and spend your hard earned cash, something you appear reluctant to do. Most of us are in the same boat. I own a lot of tackle, but have been collecting it over a long time period so the costs have been spread out.
3) Make your own. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. At one time, such things as shooting heads were not commercially available. They were home made by folks who had a need, so they solved a problem by making their own. Perhaps you have an idea in mind?
Otherwise, I see no other way to get around the added weight or density issue, and still get the fly down.
Sorry, I was typing as you were posting. Grace, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, if my casting with the heavy stuff is smooth, meaning I'm not sticking a hook in my ear, that's as graceful as I need to be!