Anything Fly Fishing

Some Good Ways to Avoid Catching Fish

4 Mins read

Most of us find that fishing is more enjoyable when the fish cooperate. I’ve seen some fishermen, though, who look like they are doing everything possible to keep those fish from biting. Following are some fly-casting techniques to use when you wish to scare off every fish on any saltwater flat you find yourself working.

Here come the tarpon! Put the fly in front of them and let them swim into it!

Using Body English- The caster using body English rocks back and forth as he casts. When wading, this is not much of a problem. In a small boat though, it’s another story. The boat rocks, sending little waves out. When those waves are detected by the fish’s lateral line (and they always will be) that fish knows something is rotten. There goes the opportunity.

This angler made a cast that’s too short. Should he wait it out, or try another cast? Every situation is different.

Cast Too Short- Most times, if you make a cast that is too short the fish will never see your fly. Sometimes, if the fish is working towards you and you’re patient, you can wait it out and see if the fish will get close enough to the fly to see it if you hop it.

This is such an important point that I’ll expound. A less-than-perfect cast can work if you just exhibit some patience and wait to see where the fish goes. If the fish moves towards your fly, you always have a chance. If you rip the line out of the water and then plonk it down on top of the fish, you have no chance whatsoever.

Cast Too Long- If you make a cast that’s too long, several results can happen, none of which leads to a hookup.

In extreme cases, the fish sees your fly line. This won’t bother fish that don’t see many fishermen, but pressured fish won’t wait around for an explanation.

A cast made slightly too long causes the fly to approach the fish. Again, in lightly fished waters this may work. In heavily fished waters, you’ll get a good view of the fish’s tail waving goodbye. Fish don’t expect to see a minnow, shrimp, crab, or whatever attacking them. They don’t like it when it happens.

If you cast too far into a school of fish, you will line the fish on the school’s edge, spooking them. One spooked fish in a school usually leads to a spooked school.

When casting to a school, work the edges. Some companies make clear-tip fly lines that help solve this particular problem. There’s nothing like a good, accurate cast, though.

I have found with clear lines that it’s hard keeping track of where your fly is. With a conventional line, you know the fly is 10-12 feet past the end of the line. With a clear line, you have no reference point unless you make one by using a permanent marker or some other method.

Here’s a tough situation because the fish faces away from the angler. Most casts will line the fish, spooking it. Wait for the fish to turn, or find another one.

Head Shots- Another casting flaw I call the splashdown. This is a cast that’s just a little too accurate. You hit the fish on the head (or other body part) with your fly. In lightly fished areas or in deeper water this actually works sometimes, but with heavily pressured fish in the shallow stuff you have blown opportunity.

The opposite of the splashdown occurs when you lead the fish too far. Optimum lead distance varies depending on the species of fish, how fast it’s swimming, the depth of the water, the current, and other factors (in other words, it’s different for every fish), but if you lead the fish too far it will not see your fly. Sometimes an angler will lead a fish too far, then move the fly immediately after it hits the water. The fish never sees it, or is unwilling to chase it from such a great distance if he does see it. Like the too-short cast, a too-far lead can still work if you leave the fly there until the fish gets near it. Be patient if the cast is less than perfect!

When casting to a tailing fish, put the fly out in front of the end where the mouth is!

Regardless of whether the cast is too short or too long, once the fly hits the water you need to ask yourself, “Can it work?” If the answer is no, risk another cast. If the answer is yes, wait it out and see were the fish goes. Patience can make a less-than-perfect cast work.

Normally (where I do most of my fishing, at least) when you throw to a cruising fish you want to anticipate exactly where the fish will go (never an easy task), put your fly directly in its path, and leave the fly there until the fish is close enough to see it when you move it. Only then can you expect it to respond in what you consider to be a positive manner. Let the fish encounter the fly, rather than forcing the fly into it’s strike zone.

The angler who does everything right is rewarded with a hookup!

The only way you can minimize these casting errors is to become a more proficient caster. Never mind worrying about how far you can cast. Speed and accuracy are what’s important in most flats situations. Get a few frisbees or lids from five gallon buckets, set them on a lawn at various distances, and practice hitting them in sequence with only one or two false casts in all kinds of wind and weather conditions. Don’t forget to practice backhand casts! Good casters will always catch more fish than mediocre ones.

There’s an even better way to improve your casting and fishing skills- go fishing more often! There’s no substitute for time on the water!

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