Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bonefish Lessons from Water Cay: Part Two... Casting

The hints, observations and lessons from the April Water Cay Lodge trip continue, this time with hints on casting:

(This part caused us all the most problems, especially in the stiff winds of 2012. In the parlance of ecology, this would be called a limiting factor, and so is the one single area we all need to improve the most in.) 
-To do well here (or anywhere on the flats), you must have an accurate 40 foot cast into the wind, which is achieved with a tight loop and technical perfection, not strength and more power. 
-Use a double haul on everything that doesn’t require a roll cast. 
-Practice your double haul techniques until they are absolutely reflexive. Good hauls do you no good if they only happen in the park or off the dock, but are not executed when the bones are in front of you or the wind rises. 
-The keys to a good double haul are short, quick hauls with the line hand and crisp snaps and clean stops with rod hand. Timing is essential and requires practice. 
-The hardest part of a double haul is the delivery. Form can be good on the false casts and fall apart on the delivery cast. 
-Cast in your normal upright position. The “wary fish crouch” adversely effects your casting performance. 
-Your total casting motion should be fluid and the amount of energy required should be determined by the distance of the cast and the prevailing wind conditions.  
-Cast like a girl. This means consistent 30-45 foot casts that are accurate and land quietly trump long, splashy, inaccurate casts over time. 
-Casts into the wind require more energy on the forecast and casts with the wind behind you require more energy on the backcast.  
-If the boat rocks while you are casting, there’s something amiss in your casting technique. This rocking body motion in a cast will spook fish, especially from the bow of a boat. 
-Hold fly in line hand by hook bend w/point up and hold the line coming out of the reel with the same hand. Have one rod-length of line beyond the rod tip. Start your cast with a backcast. That will pull the fly from your fingers and start to load the rod. Your line hand will already have the line in it close to the reel for the first haul.  
-Try to use a maximum of 2 false casts before delivery. With an increased number of false casts you increase the risks of the cast going to hell and of spooking fish. 
-Cast with enough line speed to deliver the fly effectively w/o “slapping” the fly down. An effective, soft delivery is best. 
-When casting into the wind, be sure your tip is low on the delivery. If it’s up too much, the wind will steal some of the energy from the line and your cast will pile up. 
-Cast at fish (1-2’ feet in front of them) unless their behavior dictates otherwise.  
-Bones react to the shadow (or the flash) of fly lines in the air even when the cast is otherwise perfect; plan false casts ahead of time. 


  1. Great stuff, guys. I'll give it a personal test in about 10 days. Thanks.

    Although, I think I have the secret ingredient - coyote.

  2. I've had good luck with my clients (and friends) teaching them a long haul, with emphasis on keeping the line between the hauling hand and the first guide tight... like a yo-yo. One an angler uses this haul they begin to instinctively want to pull the line to the fish instead of throwing it (which causes most casting problems). Trying to teach someone technical perfection (i.e. timing) on the flats is a fruitless pursuit. I learned this from Prescott Smith's casting style and it works a treat for teaching the double haul.