By Bryan Eldredge guide with Utah Fly Guides
One of the keys to being a successful fly fishing guide is to understand the complexity of helping our guests learn how to become better fly fishers while helping them catch fish at the same time. The trick is in assessing what our guests can do and then developing a plan to help them catch fish using their skills—both those they brought with them and those they are learning on that day.
Recently a client and I were sight fishing some pretty technical water. Most of the time in those situations, it’s good to find fish feeding close to the bank because—to no one’s surprise—shorter casts are easier for most people. On this day, we snuck out of the brush to find a large trout eating right under our feet. I pointed it out and eased my client into position. He then caught me off guard when he said , “I don’t know what to do.” I was shocked. This guy can throw a line 80’; I just assumed he could make a six foot cast. I was wrong. It just wasn’t something he’d ever done before.
We worked it out and he caught the fish (see the video), but that experience got me thinking about how in the U.S. (as opposed to Europe), the prototypical fly cast has us carrying 40’ or more feet of line. Maybe it’s images from A River Runs Through It that stick in our collective consciousness, or maybe it’s just another manifestation of the three-pointer, the home run or the 400’ drive. But whatever its origin, the reality is that short casts net more fish for most of us, so they really are worth practicing.
Here’s your tip: Practice your casting in your yard. All over your yard. My own yard isn’t big enough for really long casts and that’s good. When I go to the park, I end up throwing line as far as I can (and then trying to unwrap it from my body). It’s not what I plan, but it happens. In my yard I can find a lot of targets at relatively short distances. (Hypothetically you might cast in the general direction of, say, a flower—but you didn’t hear it here.) Most yards present good obstacles that mimic stream conditions. For example, my yard has a large rock I can stand on with a tree right at my back. Casting down to various ‘targets’ helps me control my cast even without any fly line out of the rod.
Try it. It just might help you land the fish of the season.