Bruce Ajari: Cast for distance, your angling odds will rise
After fishing Pyramid Lake in Nevada since the late 70s, I have come to one conclusion: During the winter months, Pyramid is at its least productive period.
Because of this, I personally feel that longer casts are very important to cover more water.
Fish in lakes are typically in a little deeper water during the winter months, which means that they can be quite a ways out during these times. Longer casts are essential for an angler. It allows you to pull across more areas that fish tend to cruise. As a result I feel that you will show your flies to more fish in this manner.
So how do you best achieve the extra distance? First of all, most of us can work on our casting. Timing on the cast is key. Be sure to fully load your rod on both the forward and back cast. Allowing the line to straighten in both directions will achieve this goal. One side should be the mirror image of the other.
You should also pause or stop the rod in both directions. Be sure to pause the rod on the forward cast of your last stroke and then follow the line down to the water. Without this pause or stop, the cast will not achieve its optimum distance.
I always tell people to let the rod do the work. It is much like a golf swing: The harder you try, the worse it seems to get. Be smooth and efficient with your fly casting.
Once you feel that you are getting the maximum out of you casting distance, you will want to make some equipment adjustments. I recommend replacing the full fly line with a shooting head. A shooting head is around 30 feet, more or less, and is sometimes called a rocket taper. It is a heavily weighted portion of fly line with a pretty heavy weight-forward taper that is attached to a level running line of some sort.
Many of today’s shooting head systems are integrated into a single line for the consumer. These lines are state-of-the-art ones and are even density-compensated, which allows a straighter line while sinking. This translates into much better strike-detection capabilities.
Once you have mastered your casting with a shooting head, you will want to consider a slightly longer fly rod. Most anglers fish with a 9-foot rod, but getting one even 6 inches longer will make quite a difference in your casting. For conventional casting I would not go more than 10 feet in length. A rod over this length becomes much more difficult to cast conventionally.
A rod that is 6 inches longer will probably allow you to get an additional 10 to 20 feet in distance, depending on your casting ability. This is the first season I have used the longer rod, and I am noticing a slight difference.
Because angling can be slow in the winter, anything you can do to increase your chances the better. Think about trying for longer casts in a lake environment during the winter.
– Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.
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