As we move into fall, there is one thing right around the corner. Tarpon season. As someone who has never gotten the opportunity to land the famed Silver King, I, too, will be going over these tips this coming winter in some abandoned parking lot. If you, on the other hand, have been fortunate enough to go hunt and land a Megalops, maybe some of these tips will reinforce what you already know. Regardless of your proficiency when it comes to fishing saltwater, today, we will be going over some simple Saltwater fly fishing casting tips. Nothing too extensive just some quick casting tips that will make you a more proficient saltwater angler. By the end I hope you garner some motivation to get out and cast your fly rod at some cones this winter, sure it is not the most fun but, the latter is missing a fish of a lifetime...oh, and wasting a lot of money. That should be more than enough to get you out and start practicing. Nevertheless, enjoy these simple casting techniques and exercises to improve your saltwater game.
The original author: Dave Lovell - Former Trouts Denver Outfitting Manager.
Practice Tip Number 1:
Most Salt Trips don’t come free. We as anglers spend countless hours planning the trip and dollars to make it happen. Not taking the time to get out and practice your casting is often overlooked. This doesn’t mean going out for hours on end casting until your arm falls off. This will only reinforce casting faults as you get tired and revert back to less than the desired form. Define your goals and practice for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Doing this 2 to 3 days a week the month before your trip will help develop the much-needed muscle memory in order to capitalize on your investment.
Practice Tip Number 2:
Simply put, tight loops provide better accuracy and are a necessity for success in the salt. Too often when making a cast we tend to drop the rod tip on both our back and forward casts. Which, if you've been around the block long enough know that this is a big nono. And, this is understandable because remember this, "difficult fish force errors". In essence, this will cause the rod tip to travel in an arc bringing the fly line directly into the ground behind or in front of you. This results in wide loops and decreased line speed. Wide loops are notoriously inaccurate and are quickly decimated by even the slightest breeze. As the wind is always a factor when out on the saltwater, you can see how this is a problem that can add up rather quickly.
Practice Tip Number 3:
Remember, “The fly line goes where the rod tip goes”. Y'all this goes so far beyond the saltwater casting, this is probably the MOST important casting tip regardless of the water you are fishing. Ideally, you want the tip of the fly rod to travel in a straight-line path from the end of your backcast to the completion of the stop of your forward cast. It is important to practice keeping the tip of the fly rod traveling in a straight path during your casting stroke. The best way to go about this is to start with a shorter length of fly line (20 – 25 feet) and actively watch both your back and forward cast while keeping the rod tip traveling in that straight line. Put out some cones or fly boxes for target practice and you’ll be amazed at how tight your loops get.
Practice Tip Number 4:
We all dream about tailing bonefish, permit, and laid-up tarpon. The reality is these fish are on the move the majority of the time. Too often we begin our cast thinking that we are presenting to a trout. This is NOT the case in the salt. Once you’ve seen the fish, roll cast your line out on the water and begin your cast. Anticipate where the targeted fish is heading and intercept them by putting the fly in their path with no more than 2 or 3 false casts.
Practice Tip Number 5:
Place some cones at various distances in a park or parking lot. When practicing or instructing others, I set cones at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 60 feet. Don’t overlook the shorter casts as they can be the ones we don’t practice enough. A little hot tip? The majority of your cast your first time will be in the 30-foot range. After you have your cones laid out, practice casting at these cones at each of your locations and distances one after another with minimal false casts. This will help develop some much-need muscle memory when you need to make precise double hauls. Remember, accuracy always wins over distance.
Practice Tip Number 6:
POWER. This is essential. When you are on a skiff boat you will soon realize that your cast requires more power to help combat the wind. If you haven’t already done so, practice either a single or double haul. You can do these on a variety of waters here in Colorado. When fishing salt, your window to present the fly to moving fish closes much quicker and you need to capitalize on every opportunity.
Practice Tip Number 7:
Increase the speed of your casting stroke without losing the integrity of the cast. Practice your single and double haul every chance you get!
Finally, “Fly rods are like puppies, they want to please you just have to train them”.