Been back from my 2019 Tassie trip for about a month. How did it go? In all honesty it was a stinker. Poor weather, poor fishing and bad things happening at home and to a treasured Tassie friend. Casting wise, however, it threw up some talking points.
Fishing and Casting Practice
Last year I realised that I loved fly casting for its own sake and separately from fishing though never entirely divorced from it. Two related loves in an open relationship. As a conceptual monogamist by nature I struggled with this a bit, fearing that casting practice had or might become an end in itself. Six weeks of fishing put those fears to bed and casting back in its rightful place as a means and not an end.
Post Trip Casting Analysis
The good news, in a nutshell, is that all my practice paid off and I could do more, more accurately and with less effort. Smoothness is as sweet on the water as it is down at the park. Efficiency rules.
The ban on heaving held up mostly, tracking was good and fishing distances were easy, even in tough wind conditions. By “easy” I mean doable with controlled effort. My sensory motor learning of new habits, as adjusted by research and practice regimes, worked out well. A few things got a little loose but nothing came radically unstuck.
Only had a couple of practice sessions since my return, not least because my favourite rod is with the rod doctor for a new set of guides. (The old recoils wore out despite my obsessive cleaning of lines after each practice session.)
Haven’t done the video analysis yet but I can feel and see some slight slippage of technique particularly in wrist timing and effort during the finish of a long casting stroke. In a recent post to the Sexyloops Board John Waters related how a caster whose technique he admires described this as being like carrying a matchbox in the palm of your hand and then putting it up on the shelf. That’s it exactly. BTW in the same thread John talks about a distance cast as a “slinging” action rather than a pulling action. I think this captures nicely the biomechanical difference(s) of distance casts to a standard throwing action.
Tassie is about impoundment fishing. One obvious change post trip was that my loops were more open. I put this down to frequent use of multi fly rigs including dry flies which need a more delicate presentation. River fishing compounded the effect as nymphs were often combined with a dry fly as an indicator. I wanted to give the nymph more time to sink before being towed downstream. Rather than overpower the cast to splat the nymph down this was achieved with long tippets and a slightly underpowered cast using a higher than normal trajectory. The loop is opened late and kind of stalls in flight dumping some slack on the surface.
Tails and Tangles – The Zone of Death
It gets bit windy in Tasmania because it lies in the path of the roaring forties. If, like me, you prefer the bank to a boat then relatively few sessions will be spent with the wind blowing both gently and obligingly behind you. Even when it is behind you your problems are not over.
Imagine you are facing south, the wind is from the north. If a fish rises anywhere downwind between east and west it is no big deal. You might need to present from the backhand but that is manageable.
However anywhere upwind of the east west line takes you into tangle country. Worse with multi fly rigs, strangely worse than casting directly upwind. What happens?
At first I thought I must be throwing tails from trying too hard to push the cast out and across the breeze. After a number of tangles I decided it might not be as simple as that. I suspect now that the cast begins to stall into the wind, especially if it meets an unfavourable gust. As turnover weakens the rod leg loses tension (as well as the fly leg) and blows back downwind where it collides with the fly leg. The latter has a bit more oomph (kinetic energy) left in it so it doesn’t deviate as much from the intended direction of the cast. Put all this in sequence and bingo a cross over happens, one of the the flies swings around the rod leg and a bunch of horrible bastards is the inevitable result.
Of course you can do all of this with a standard tailing loop but I don’t think that is the whole answer. The problem diminishes when you open the loop a bit more – not an unsightly fat loop but just not a sexy arrow head. True you could avoid any casting into the zone of death BUT if the fishing is slow and the opportunities few and far between…. the risk is overwhelmed by desire.