Growing up, your parents told you all the time, don’t give up, keep trying, and the old staple if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Well guess what, they were right. And this old adage is not just true for life, but also for fly-fishing. Now this is true when you’re learning to cast and learning to tie flies, and for the purpose of today’s post, casting your fly.
When I’m out fly-fishing I’m typically looking for solitude, but let’s be honest some secret spots aren’t so secret. And when I do watch other people fish, far too often I see impatient fishermen who rush up the river and complain that they aren’t catching anything. Why are they having trouble? The cardinal sin here is they’re only casting once to an area and moving on.
Take a quick look at the >60 second video below, don’t worry we sped through the boring part of me not catching anything.
As you can see my first three casts produced a whole lot of nothing. It was the fourth cast that landed me a trout. Why is this? Well there are a lot of factors but I’ll give you my take. When fish are feeding in flowing water they’re typically sitting in one spot to conserve energy and only surveying a very narrow area in their quest for food. Subsequently, if a food item or your fly doesn’t drift directly through this narrow window the trout won’t see it and thus won’t try to eat it. Also, food isn’t the only thing drifting through the current. Here’s another quick video to illustrate my point:
That video was taken in Cheesman Canyon and to the naked eye the river looked very clear, but as you could see there was a lot of stuff submerged in the water column. So to reiterate, not only are trout looking for food in a very narrow window they’re also trying to identify food items mixed in with sediment, vegetation, and the like. So if you only drift your fly past a trout once the odds of you catching that trout are pretty slim.
In conclusion, my advice is very simple; if you see a spot you suspect is holding fish make multiple casts before giving up and trying a new spot. The benefits of this approach are twofold. First, as I’ve clearly stated above, you increase the odds that the fish will see your fly and subsequently the odds of getting a bite. Second, it forces you to move slower up the river, and the less you move the less likely you are to startle fish in the vicinity.
So take your parent’s advice to heart and try, try again, because the more you try the more you’ll succeed. Until next time, happy fishing!
– A. Egli