Fly Fishing Techniques - A Brief Overview
Brian Primeau With 26 Inch Brown Trout - Grand River
Many people equate fly fishing with the conventional back and forward cast, while standing in a river and having lots of space both behind and in front. This is a beautiful form of fly fishing when done properly and often an angler will find that he has spectators and perhaps even home video cameras photographing his casting. But for far too many fly anglers, all they ever learn and work on is their back and forward cast, and as a result they are missing out on becoming better anglers.
There are a variety of fly fishing techniques that can be learned over time. These include not just different styles of casting, but also include fly presentation, different speeds and styles of retrieve, and even learning more about the habitat and food of fish, and matching as closely as possible, the immitations to the naturals.
In this article, we'll cover a few different fly fishing methods that include casting styles. There is an abundance of information on each one, and we're not going to cover each in detail, but rather provide information to the beginner so that they may become aware of different skills and perhaps have a desire to learn about and work on them.
Basic Fly Casting Techniques - The Roll Cast As mentioned above, many new anglers completely focus on getting their standard back and forward cast right. There is of course nothing wrong with this, but perhaps they are missing out on learning a cast that might even be more important in doing well - and that is the roll cast. The roll cast is a technique that allows a fly angler to get a fly out to fish in situations where a backcast is simply not feasible. An angler that does not know how to perform a good roll cast is likely missing out on excellent fishing opportunities.
As well, a roll cast is often the beginning of a good back and forward cast. When stillwater fishing from a bank, dock or boat, after the fly has been retrieved close to the angler, employing a roll cast properly will enable to the fly fisher to get the fly quickly into the air and back into the water quickly when he can begin fishing with the fly again.
Although spey casting is an advanced fly casting technique, if a beginner gets good instruction from a qualified spey casting instructor, all of their casting skills will immediately improve. Spey casting requires a good deal of discipline and co-ordination, as well as an understanding of physics and how it applies to fly casting. Spey casting requires an almost perfect roll cast most of the time, and the ability to do this and put together the motions that will enable the fly to become areial and cast a long distance, will have immediate benefits in the skill of standard back and forward casting.
Spey casting was originally developed on the River Spey in Scotland, and it is a very useful (actually, spey casting is an entire system) for many situations. It's especially a good casting technique for situations where there is little room behind the angler, but getting long distance forward casts is necessary in order to target fish. It's also a terrific style for casting heavier and bulky flies like those used for Atlantic Salmon on big rivers. Adjustments can be made for wind and river flow conditions.
The drawback to spey casting is that heavier and longer rods are generally used, along with fly line systems that include shooting heads - not what a beginner (unless they are targeting Atlantic Salmon or live on the River Spey) usually considers when purchasing equipment. However, learning spey casting techniques will have an enormous benefit in increasing skill in conventional casting.
No Casting Methods
Calling them "no casting methods" is a bit of a misnomer, but there are some fly fishing techniques that use a conventional fly fishing fly, but little casting is done. Some of these methods include "Czech Nymphing," "Dapping," and the traditional Japanese fly fishing method called "Tenkara." Both Tenkara and Dapping often involve the use of long but light rods - sometimes 13' or more. Dapping is a technique that was likely used by Izaak Walton, where he might tie some line to the end of a tip of a long branch, with a fly on the other end, and let the fly skitter about the water. Tenkara is similar to dapping, but also involves learning a casting stroke that is shorter than our conventional fore and back cast.
Czech nymphing is a style of fly fishing that involves getting nymphs down quickly in flowing rivers, and in close proximity to where the angler is wading. With this particular fishing technique, fly selection is also important as the point is to get the fly down quickly.
There are many fly fishing skills that can be learned and the succesful angler will try to practice a variety. Being able to adapt, regardless of the conditions will make fly fishing far more enjoyable and perhaps even widen the angler's experiences in that he or she will be able to fly fish many different types of water with better chances than not, of catching fish.