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Accuracy Casting by Lefty Kreh

Accuracy in fly-casting is essential to a high rate of success.  When a trout rises the angler must drop the dry fly exactly where the drift will carry it to the hungry fish. Casting for largemouth bass where there are “holes” in the lily pads means a hook-up if the fly or popping bug falls in the open water area. The ability to drop the fly properly in front of a cruising giant tarpon is essential to success. To be able to control the fly so it lands under the overhanging mangrove means more snook will take your offering.

Accuracy is not always needed in long distance casting but even here it can be important. If you rush to a school of breaking saltwater fish you need to place the fly in front of the school. Steelhead fishing often requires long casts that land on target.  Other good examples come to mind. The ability to throw under a dock may mean a strike. If there is a strong side wind knowing how to place the fly accurately in front of the fish is necessary. Fishing the little pockets on a brook trout stream or driving a fly tight against a buoy or channel marker are all examples of why the fly rodder must master accurate casting.

If you have watched on TV a fine caster repeatedly dropping the fly in tiny pockets in the shoreline, you may marvel at the skill and how it is done. Of course, the fly fisherman has worked on his casting, but there is another very important point as to why the fly arrives at those small, difficult targets.

Consider a hunter who shoots a deer. The hunter does not shoot AT the deer. He would probably miss it. Instead, he aims at a very specific area of the deer’s body. So it is with accurate fly casting to small and hard-to-hit targets.  The fly fisherman doesn’t throw at the shoreline. The caster focuses on a very small target.

When humans shoot a gun, bow or cast, they tend to instinctively hit what they focus on. Policemen are taught to look intently at the target, raise the pistol and pull the trigger when they “feel” the gun is aimed properly. One of the main reasons that fly fishermen make poor casts to a cruising fish is that the angler looks at the fish. You instinctively direct the fly to where you are looking. Instead, they should concentrate on where they want the fly to land. The fish is easily seen in their peripheral vision

Virtually all bonefish permit and redfish patterns are weighted—as are many fresh water nymph and streamer patterns. Many species in fresh and saltwater requires  pin-point accurate casts. Few fly fishermen realize that on almost every cast made with a weighted fly they throw an inaccurate curve in the leader and fly.

The line goes in the direction the rod tip speeds up and stops. If you are a right handed caster chances are you tilt the fly rod tip outward as you make the forward cast. This will result with the end of the leader and fly to curving to the left with a weighted fly. When the rod tip is tilted outward on the speed up and stop the rod tip flexes into the left—causing the leader and fly to swing to the left. Of course, if you are a left hander, the fly will curve to the right. This is the main reason why freshwater trout fishermen throw an inaccurate cast with weighted flies—especially nymphs.

To make an accurate cast the rod tip must speed up and stop in the direction of the target. To eliminate that curving of the leader and fly, you can make any kind of backcast (side, angled or vertical) but at the finish of the forward cast the rod must be in a vertical position, so the tip can stop in line with the target.

Accuracy with spinning or plug tackle is dependent upon the angler stopping the lure’s flight on target. Most fly fishermen cast at the target then release the fly line and hope to God the fly lands where they want.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get extreme accuracy with a fly rod if you do two things. ONE--the line should be cast in a slightly climbing attitude that has enough energy to go beyond the target. TWO—do not release the line in your hand. Instead, form an “o” ring with the first finger and thumb—acting like a rod guide as line flows through it. As the fly nears the target, compress the two fingers so that you slow the line’s flight speed. When the fly is over the target trap the line and the fly will fall accurately where you want.

There other advantages to allowing line to flow through the two fingers. The line remains under the angler’s control at all times. If the fly fisherman suddenly realizes the cast is going wrong, the line can be trapped and another backcast can be made and a correct forward cast delivered.

If you release the line during its flight, you have to look down after the fly lands to recover it. That means taking your eyes off the fish, which may be difficult to locate again. Of course, if you trap the line correctly you concentrate on the fish and when the fly hits the water you can either begin a retrieve or instantly set the hook if desired.

Finally, one of the biggest hindrances to accurate casting is when the wind blows hard from the side of the caster. The cast is made and the wind forces the line to fall well downwind of the target.

Here is how you can make accurate cast in a side wind. The method works well to about 50 feet—beyond that I find it difficult to do so. The line goes in the direction the rod tip speeds up and stops. Once the stop occurs you cannot change direction. That’s important to remember when casting in a side wind. The other factor is you do poorly if you shoot line on this cast. You should false cast enough line to reach the target.

Make a cast that is directed downward toward the target. As soon as the rod tip stops the line is committed to the target. As soon as the rod tip stops, immediately put the rod tip in the water. This will place all line between the target and rod tip in or under water where the wind cannot affect it. Even in a stiff breeze the caster will be able to present the fly within inches of the target.

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