Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2 . Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3. Little Brown Stoneflies
4. Quill Gordons
5. Blue Quills
6. Little Black Caddis
9. Hendricksons and the Red Quills
The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Casting Part 3
Now that I have explained what a crooked cast is, before I get into how you make
these "crooked" cast, I first want to explain more about making the type of cast you
should use most of the time your fishing the small streams of the Smokies. I'm
referring to short, upstream cast that you should use often when your fishing the
fast, water of the runs and riffles. Many Smoky Mountain anglers use this type of
cast almost exclusively. I don't go that far to one extreme, but I do use the short,
upstream cast much of the time. I use several other types of cast and presentations,
but mostly for specific applications. I will get into the other types of presentations,
such as downstream presentations, high-sticken, etc., later. First, let me cover the
basic, bread and butter presentation you need to learn to use.
Although this same presentation can be used for wet flies and nymphs, for purposes
of simplicity, let's confine it to dry flies for the time being. Also, let me confine it to
fishing the moderate to fast water of the runs and riffles, not pools and slack water
or slow water areas. By the way, this is where many Smoky Mountain anglers go
wrong, in my opinion. The short, upstream cast that I'm about to describe are the
only type of presentation many anglers use. I'm mentioning this at this point in time
because I don't want anyone to think I'm recommending this one method for all the
fishing you do. If you do, you will end up being one of the mediocre anglers that are
always talking about the fishing being slow, or poor, and even bad. I hear this quite
often when it isn't the fish at all, rather the results of an angler's one track, set in
their ways, narrow minded way of fishing. To be consistently successful, you have to
be flexible. You have to learn to master several different techniques, even for the
small streams of the Smokies. Now, I'll get back to the basic, short, upstream dry fly
presentation you'll be using very often.
The idea is to keep your fly line off the water. This is the easiest and best way
to get a drag free drift. The conflicting currents can't pull on your line and jerk your
fly in an unnatural manner if the fly line isn't in the water. Of course, at least most of
your leader and all of your tippet has to be on the water or you would be fishing
straight down beneath the tip of your fly rod. You should keep as much of the fly line
above the water as you can possible manage to do without getting too close to the
trout or close enough to spook them.
You should approach the trout proceeding in an upstream directions and
casting in an upstream direction. The trout holding in the faster water of the
runs and riffles will be facing upstream, looking for food that's drifting downstream.
Although they can see almost all the way around themselves, there's a small blind
spot, or area the fish cannot see well that's directly behind the fish opposite the
direction it's facing. This allows you to get closer to trout than you could if you
approached them from other directions and especially if you approached them from
their front side.
As you make these short, upstream cast and cover the water ahead of you, you
should proceed to move in an upstream direction. If you are wading, you
probably need to make three or four cast before taking a few steps upstream to
cover another area.
Let's say you have a nine foot fly rod and your are using a nine foot leader and you
only have the leader extended out from the tip of the fly rod.. When you have the
rod extended out towards the fly and up at an angle, you're probably about 15 feet
or so from the fly. You can get that close to trout that are holding and feeding in fast
water provided you've moved slowly, quietly and do everything correctly. The
problem is in this scenario, your only casting a leader and a leader doesn't cast
very well. That's the purpose of the fly line. For example, even if you're casting only
five feet of fly line, the fly can still land as far as twenty feet from you're position.
That's nine for the rod, nine for the leader and five for the fly line, less some lost by
the angles involved. In other words, if you're using a nine foot leader, just five feet
of fly line enables you to make about a twenty foot cast.
This is one reason many anglers prefer shorter leaders fishing the Smokies. When
you're making short cast, a long leader can be a disadvantage from a casting
standpoint. You're casting mostly leader and little fly line. If you're using a forward
tapered fly line, you're not even casting the heavier part or the "belly" of the tapered
line. You're only casting the front tapered portion of the fly line. Even so, the fly line
still provides enough weight to propel a short cast just fine. Using a short, seven
and a half-foot leader gives you the benefit of using a little more fly line on short
When the cast is made, you want to hold the fly rod as far out as practical. The rod
should also be tilted upward at a slight angle from horizontal during the time the fly
is drifting back towards you. Keep in mind, on these short cast in fast water, you are
only allowing the fly to drift a few feet between cast. You should raise the tip of your
fly rod by increasing the upward angle as the fly gets closer to you. This will keep
most of the fly line off of the water during the drift.
Keep in mind, the length of these cast can vary, depending on the current, depth of
the water and other factors. I've just provided a general idea of the way you should
make the typical short cast. Again, the idea is to avoid the conflicting currents of the
fast pocket water by keeping most of your fly line above the water during the drift.
Tomorrow, I will get into these short cast in even more detail, because it's the little
details that makes a big difference. In fact, it's usually the little details that makes
the difference in catching trout or not catching trout. I still haven't told you how to
make "crooked" cast.
2011 James Marsh