Originally Posted by MoscaPescador
Every piece of water will dictate which presentation to use, so what he said.
Exactly. The longer you fly fish the more you learn and adaptability is one trait which separates the greats from the goods and mediocres.
For example, in freestone streams I generally fish dries upstream but when fishing to very spooky trout with a lots of time to inspect a fly, as often occurs in spring creek situations, a downstream presentation may be the ONLY way to catch fish. This is the favored method in Henry's Fork, for example. That is if you believe the 3 greats of Earnest Shweibert, Andre Puyans and Rene Harrop. It was true in 1975 and it is even more true 37 years later.
"... a downstream cast is best. "Exactly," Rene Harrop went on. Up stream presentation usually spooks these Henrys Fork rainbows no matter what tippet diameter you use."
"My favorite technique this time of year is one that I developed over the years I fondly call my pontoon boat downstream drag free drift. My good friend Mike Lawson made this technique popular back in the late seventies and early eighties on the fabled waters of the Railroad Ranch section of the Henrys Fork River in Idaho. Mike discovered that the super selective rainbows of the Ranch had become so conditioned to seeing leaders in the gin clear water that they were virtually impossible to catch from a "below the fish approach". The conventional technique of casting upstream to feeding fish and letting the fly drift back downstream to obtain a drag free drift would render nothing but rejections. The fish on the Henrys Fork actually became so leader shy they would even spook and leave at the sight of a leader."
Or The Fall River in California, one of the most difficult trout streams in the West.
"In order to present the fly so that it comes into the view of the fish before the line, you point the rod downstream, and then wiggle the tip while at the same time feed the line through the guides at a rate that is equal to the river’s flow. The fly will then drift downstream, hopefully in a dead drift. Wiggling the tip to feed the line has worked well on other spring creeks that I’ve fished such as Hot Creek, where drifts are relatively short and the weeds are often on the surface, but as long time guide Carl Jaeger explained to me “on the Fall River you are trying to effect drifts of twenty feet or more and each wiggle has the potential to create hesitation in the fly’s drift which will eliminate its chances of it being grabbed.” He showed me a better way to feed the line that was specifically suited for attaining the desired longer drifts. He explained that rather than wiggle the rod tip to help feed the line, you should roll the tip which will allow you to feed two to three feet of line each time and for fishing dry flies, this was the most important technique that I learned."
and rigging techniques specifically suited to the Fall
California's Best Fly Fishing: Premier Streams and Rivers from Northern ... - Chip O'Brien - Google Books
The downstream approach is the single best way to catch these super spooky fish. It is the method of choice in my namesake, Silver Creek.
Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho - Ken Retallic, Rocky Barker - Google Books
Here's a reply I wrote on another BB on how to do a parachute cast, my favorite method for delivering a fly absolutely drag free from the upstream approach.
"If microdrag is the problem, the goal is to remove all drag. The easiest way to remove drag and place the fly accurately into the feeding lane of the fish is with a parachute cast from the upstream position. It is also the easiest way to time a fly so that it reaches a rhythmically feeding fish.
You must be able to get upstream of the fish and into casting position without spooking it. This can be directly upstream of the fish but more often it is upstream and across so that you can stay out of the direct feeding lane but still do a reach mend to place the cast into the feeding lane.
From the upstream position cast downstream to the feeding fish so that the fly lands upstream and outside the window of the feeding fish. Stop the rod high so that the line drapes down to the water like a parachute cord (this is where the name of the cast comes from). You can jerk back on the rod tip as the leader unfolds to give you more slack line and leader and place the rod in a more vertical position at the end of the cast.
If you are a little off in your cast, you can skate the fly directly into the feeding lane because the fly, line and leader are still outside the window of the feeding fish. When the fly is in the right place and at the right time (for a rhythmically feeder), lower the rod tip as the current takes the fly to the fish and the fly will enter the fish's window before the leader and without drag. If you time it right, the fly will arrive just as the fish is rising to feed again, and the fish will choose your fly from amongst the others because yours is arriving at the right time. If you need more slack than just lowering the rod will provide, pop the rod tip up and down while releasing line to stack mend line into the drift.
When the fish takes, delay just a bit until the mouth closes and the head goes down before you lift the rod to set the hook. If you set too fast. you will actually pull the fly out of the fishes mouth before it closes. The hook set is delayed a bit when you are upstream of the fish compared to a downstream position.
If the fish does not take, gently move the rod to the side so that the leader goes to your side of the fish without disturbing the surface too much. Gently pick up and do your false cast to the other side of the river so that you don't spray the water over the fish and then try again.
For fish that are feeding selectively and rhythmically by holding close to the surface there is no better method. They have a small window so you can get closer than a fish that is holding deeper. Trying to remove all drag with a slack line, being highly accurate, and timing the fly for a rhythmical feeder is nearly impossible when casting from below the fish.
Nymphing - Gary A. Borger - Google Books