Author: Trouts Denver Outfitting Manager Dave Lovell
Here are some simple casting tips and exercises to improve your salt -water game…
1. Practice with a purpose: 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 desired form. Define your goals and practice for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Doing this at 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.
2. Tighten your Loops: 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. 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. This is a problem because you can always count on wind when fishing in the salt.
Practice Tip: Remember, “The fly line goes where the rod tip goes”. Ideally, you want the tip of the fly rod to travel in a straight-line path from the end of your back cast to the completion, or stop of your forward cast. Practice keeping the tip of the fly rod traveling in a straight path during your casting stroke. 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. You’ll be amazed at how tight your loops get.
3. Minimize your False Casts: 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: Place some cones at various distances in a park. When personally practicing, 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. Practice targeting 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 find yourself casting to moving fish. Remember, accuracy always wins over distance.
4. High Line Speed: This is essential. Your cast requires more power and along with tight loops, helps combat the wind. If you haven’t already done so, practice either a single or double haul. 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: 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”.