Some of the most common instances that something goes wrong while fishing is either right before, or right as you cast. So many wind knots, birds nest tangles, snapped rods and frustrated anglers can be prevented if you just check these few things before you make each cast, and we promise, with some discipline, your fishing days will involve fewer flies in trees and fewer frustrating fishing days.
Check Your Surroundings
We all get hung up on a tree or bush while casting at least once a trip, admit it. But this classic anglers problem is preventable by checking what’s going on around you and your surroundings quickly before each cast. Scan upstream, downstream and definitely don’t forget to look above you, because the most annoying event on the water is when you have to snap off your favorite fly because it’s stuck too high up in a tree. Depending on where you’re fishing or if you’re with a buddy to double check that no one is standing behind you, because if you accidentally stick a fly in a passerby or your buddy, you’re probably going to have a bad time. And if you find yourself getting stuck in more than a couple of trees, maybe try out this crazy handy accessory, the Catch-A-Lure tool, which attaches to your fly rod and allows you to easily get flies out of trees and snags that are tough to reach, check out our short how-to video, here.
Check Your Fly, Leader & Tippet
Your next cast could be the cast when you come tight on a big fish, and you want to make sure your rig is ready to stand up to any fight. If you watch many of the best anglers in the world, every cast or at the least every couple of casts, they run their hands along the length of their leader checking for weak points, kinks or wind knots that could allow a fish to easily break off. They’ll also check the knot that connects their fly to their leader checking for teeth marks or wear, because trust us nothing is more depressing than setting the hook and watching a fly-less, shorter leader coming back at you because there was a wind knot in your 5x tippet. Being disciplined on the water is the simplest way to avoid frustration during your next fishing adventure!
Check Your Fly Line
Has this ever happened to you? You’re making a couple of beautiful false casts and then as you shoot that line into the distance, a tangle in your fly line catches an eyelet and, snap, a perfect cast is dropped many feet short of its intended target. This is why you should look down any time you are about to make a cast, regardless of what type of line you are using or where you are standing. Recently while fishing in the Low Country, I tore a perfectly good floating line in half because I wasn’t looking down and didn’t notice that my line had wrapped around a razor sharp oyster shell. And trust us nothing is worse than having to make a quick cast and realizing your line is trapped underfoot. All of these issues can be avoided if you just make a quick line check before every cast.
Picture Your Cast in Your Head
Taking a minute to envision where and how your cast is going to go is another great tool to minimize tangles, snags, and frustration on the water. Typically before making a cast, I think about how my body is positioned to make the most productive cast. Will my flies get down to the right depth? Are there currents that are going to require quick mend? How far do I need to lead that fish? All of these questions should run through your head before you lift your rod and make the cast. You will be surprised how much better you will fish by taking a breath and thinking through your cast before you make it.
Check Your Rod Ferules
Now, this is one thing you may not be checking regularly on the water, but checking your ferrules (where the different sections of your rod come together) is the simplest way to avoid a very common cause of snapped rods. If your ferrules are not tight, you lose a lot of casting power because the kinetic energy is not transferred cleanly. Loose ferrules can have wiggle room that can cause a rod to snap because the tip is rattling around and weakens the inside of the ferrule. Avoid this by paying attention to any weird feelings while casting and taking a quick look at each ferrule connection to make sure they are tight!
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!