Photograph by Steve Barnett

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Fiddling about with casts...

Yesterday evening started well enough.  Here a line of trout were rising nicely but in an awkward place round to the left of this picture with this fine overhanging branch of alder forcing a sort of hatchet action to the cast to swing the fly, leader and line around and under the "obstruction".  (Not an obstruction at all, but a valuable piece of cover that encourages the trout to line up and feed here...)

Fine, no problem then? 

Err...  Not quite!

There was a small matter of the back cast. 

Earlier in the day your faithful blogger was witness to a couple of anglers in the recreation ground trying a couple of new rods from the Orvis shop.  One thing stood out.  Neither angler turned his head to watch what the line was doing on the back cast.  Now that's alright on a casting platform or wading in a big river, but how very much easier it would be to get the timing right and to avoid catching up on the bankside herbage if they would get into the habit of watching the fly line on the back cast as well as on the forward cast, turning the head to make sure of seeing everything that is going on and everything that is likely to get in the way.

One or two things to get in the way here.  That cast up river, over to the left and under the overhanging cover would have been just about impossible, certainly very lucky if achieved at all, with no turning of the head and close scrutiny of exactly where the line was going and what it was doing.

Last night the river was very kind to your faithful blogger.  This season the river is lower than usual and some places where the flow was just right in previous years for the fish to line up for the evening return of the Sherry Spinners might now hold few if any fish.  Now you and I know full well that the fish cannot just vanish.  They live here so they must be somewhere.  The trick is to go right back to basics and start afresh.  No matter how well a water is known to the angler there is often something new to learn about it...

So it proved to be at a favourite spot a little further down river. 

Sitting cross legged on a dry silt bed and watching a pool that has often been covered in the oval rises that indicate trout eating spent spinners, it became clear that, although there were a few fish around and one or two were prepared to take the fly in error, things were different from previous years.  Much has changed anyway as the additional large woody debris in the river has altered a number of pools, so it was with an open mind that the decision was made to leave this "favourite spot" and wander off, searching for "new" places where those Wye wild rainbow and wild brown trout had toddled off to.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the poor (camera shake) quality of this photograph but it does show how very interesting are the questions the river can ask of you.  The current nearest to us is very quick and powerful. Over on the other side the flow is even but slower.  It just so happens that the dark shaded line at the edge of the opposite current is where a fair number of trout were lined up to make the most of the spinners.  Great numbers of these were arriving on the surface conveyor belt, dead and dying and packed with calories!  How to cope?  You will recall that in a previous blogpost we had a similar situation.  In that instance, as well as extending the leader to make it fail to turn over, we cast well up current with a little extra power on the forward cast, so that the failed turnover of the leader let the fly fall down in the slack water opposite and drifted without drag for several seconds until the line and leader in the fast current came down and overtook the slower drifting fly.

Here we need something different.  The trees on the bank dictate that we cannot go downstream to cast up in a similar way to the previous example.  We are bang opposite our quarry so need another way to get some loose leader in a pile over on the other side of this fast current.  The answer is to cast with slightly higher than usual line speed and to abruptly stop the line in mid-air so the over-long cast is bounced back and the fly, tippet and leader land in a pile in that slower current.  The fly then drifts for just enough time to convince the trout that the fly (Poly Prop Sherry "PPS") is a real Sherry Spinner and the mistake we need is made!

It wasn't easy.  Several flies were lost in the vegetation.  Nevertheless, it was viable and a place where I have never caught a fish before turned out to be, potentially, a new "favourite spot".

Wandering back up river towards home the fish were diligently feeding on Sherry Spinners.  The flat water above Black Barn was a joy to behold with rises everywhere.  One last cast, kneeling behind the sedges, produced a beautiful brown trout that would have rendered anything else an anti-climax.  I couldn't see the fly anymore and anyway there is something so right about leaving the trout still feeding in earnest and packing in the calories.  Therefore, at only a few minutes past ten, it was time for home.

The nights are closing in fast now so make the most of these sultry evenings.  The season has only sixty three days left!

Regular Rod


  1. You had on the pictures of where the backcast would go. I fish in areas a lot like this all the time. I've just resigned myself to losing a handful of flies every time I go. Good solution to the problem though.

    1. There is usually (but not always) a work round if enough thought and observation is put into it Howard. Our no wading rule protects a lot of fish from ever being approached...which is how it should be really. Makes the place a true meritocracy. :D

  2. Was H with you?

    1. Oh Yes! He is my consultant with whom I now discuss most aspects of our fine art...