Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fly Casting, A Process Toward Being In The Moment

There is one thing that must be learned so that an angler can fish as we think. There is one thing that must be achieved without thought so that an angler can fish in the moment.

By using the word 'think' I am giving you my opinion that a day on the water is a series of puzzles that have to be analyzed to conclusions and then acted upon to get each desired result.  By using the concept of 'without thought' I am suggesting that a day on the water can be best served when our skill level comes naturally.

The amount of time that is devoted to each of these concepts will vary day to day.  I find the less thinking time I am doing the faster the day moves on to night.  That one aspect that serves us best to have the freedom from thought is a result of many, many hours of study, deep concentration and practice to take thought to physical action seamlessly.  It is the amount of time we have devoted to becoming a true casting master.

Each of us, from the time we first held a fly rod till now, has acquired a set of understood principals that gets our fly cast to the intended target.  We all have our individual proficiency and therefore are limited to our personal ability to catch fish.  This ability, or lack of, determines a days outcome.  Certainly we can all understand this concept if I just talk about distance.  Greater distance casting has always been a desire to add to our bag of tricks.  We buy special lines and slick them with Greased Lightning or other compounds to make them slip through our guides and stand high in the water for an easy pick up. But distance is but one aspect that comes naturally during a day. 

To gain that distance some of us must think about how.  Think about and check the background to see if we have a deep back cast, then think about how to increase line speed, then think about the rod casting plane, then think about the trajectory, then think about the individual river currents from here to there, then think about aerial mends, then think about putting everything together.  Then again, some of us already know the background because knowing the background is the same as driving down the highway and knowing if a car is in the blind spot because we drive experiencing the environment at all times.  It becomes a natural part of our time to just be in the moments.  To some who have devoted a lifetime of study and practice these circumstances are processed without thought.  They are performed no differently than a tennis player who reacts to a slam coming their way and makes the reactive movements that returns the ball.  There is no time for thinking, only doing.

The more I practice my casting, the easier casting has become.  Sometimes I pick up the rod and start making forty foot false casts and then I realize that I am using my off hand.  No thought, it is just what happened and I smile because I realize my off hand is becoming one with my casting ability.  This didn't start to happen until I put double hauls with my off hand into my practice routine.  I now attempt the entire Masters Exam off hand and am surprised how comfortable many of the tasks are starting to feel.

I guess what I am trying to say is the more we think about what we want to do, the more we have no need to think about those things we accomplish.  If we take each part of every casting aspect through a process of thinking, studying and performing to excellence, our fishing day can become unencumbered by our lack of ability.  We then have the time to be in the moment and experience another day that moves from dawn to dusk as we contemplate why instead of how.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Two Hand Tactics For Striped Bass

There are some basic fundamentals in casting a two hand rod that carry over to salt water angling.   The first is understanding how the make casting loops of various sizes.   The reason I mention this first is because this aspect has a direct consequence in safety.  

When we cast a heavy weighted fly with tight loops it's like a 75 pound dog running at top speed that gets to the end of their rope and then bounces back from the shock of it's own weight.  Bang and slack is the result.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If the fly bounced to the right or left there is a strong possibility that your heavily weighted Clouser is headed for the back of your head or even causing a broken fly rod after a collision. By making our back cast in a lower plane and the forward cast in a slightly higher plain we can keep the rod moving without full stop under constant tension to make long and fluid casts in complete safety.   The canted angle of the rod is always used on the down wind shoulder side.  Never do we cast on the side the wind is coming from.  Think of the tip of your rod making the shape of a horse shoe at the end of the back stroke.  Round and fluid under constant tension.  No hard stop.  The greater the distance between the back and forward plains, or the horse shoe size,  the wider the loop.  This is the concept of what is called the Belgian Cast.  It is a very power cast that works well in most wind conditions.

Notice in the upper photo of Bass Guru Alan Lindberg that he is in the key position and the line is pointing down in the back even though his forward cast is at the start of full tension.  He completed a drawing jump roll cast to get the heavy fly and T17 up and forward, then made a low plain back cast to get to the forward stroke position under constant tension power. Dominant arm is bent to 90 degrees.  Off hand and dominant hand will move forward together for a very short distance and the power stroke is made using bottom hand pull around a dominant hand fulcrum.

I like to use a slight slide at the end of my forward stroke to clear the rod tip.  This is a move I learned from watching Henrik Mortensen when using Scandinavian shooting heads.  It translates very well when using shooting heads in the salt.

I am so very convinced that using a two hand rod for salt water increases the number of total fishing minutes per tide.  Al Buhr says that the perfect cast is the one that gets our fly from the time it stops fishing till fishing again in the shortest amount of time.

The last thought I will leave you with is to not under size the weight of the rod you use.  Striped Bass are not leader shy and you can use fifteen to twenty pound test and not have to worry should you be fortunate to hook a really big screamer.   Fast Action rods between 11 and 13 feet that are rated as 7 to 8 weight will make your salt water angling a real casting pleasure.

Please check out my PRO Salt Two Hand Collection at www.TheFlySpokeShop.com