To catch more fish, rein in your casts and keep things simple
THE CASE AGAINST LONG CASTS
Once a fly angler masters the sport’s basics and gains confidence, there’s a trap waiting. While casting is now fun, practising 30-footers on the lawn quickly gets boring. So, there’s a natural tendency to push yourself to see how much farther you can cast. That’s fine when you’re goofing around at home, but that’s where you need to leave your long-cast aspirations—if you want to catch fish, that is.
For starters, longer distances reduce your accuracy, making it harder to put your fly in the fishiest spots. Long casts also take more time to execute as you let out and manage line, meaning your fly spends less time in the water. Then after the cast, you’re left with reams of line on the water that need to be dealt with. And, of course, what goes out front must also go behind, so you need just as much clear space behind you for your backcast. Believe me, there’s a special humiliation when you get snagged in a tree 60 feet from the bank.
Since fish are hyper-sensitive to aerial threats in shallow water, keeping a long line in the air is also more likely to spook your quarry. And even if you accurately land a long cast, there will be more drag on the line, increasing the chances your fly will behave unnaturally. As well, the more line you have out, the harder it is to feel bites and set the hook. Perhaps worst of all, the long-cast mentality leads to a grievous and all-too-common mistake—casting over, or actually standing in, water you should be fishing.
Philosophically, there’s another problem with the culture of long casts in that it gives the mistaken impression you need elite skills to catch fish on the fly. This keeps people from trying fly fishing in the first place. It also discourages anglers who can manage short casts, but think they’ve got to make 50-footers to catch fish on their local river or pond.