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Short Range Trout - by Jeff Brown

WHEN it comes to fly fishing for trout most people seem very happy when they are casting around the 12-15m mark. What happens when the fish are closer?

Short range fly casting is an essential part of a fly fisher's repertoire however; it seems this is an area most people get into trouble. Why?

First let's look at the rod loading. To load your fly rod for any given amount of line requires a varied rod arc according to the amount of fly line off the tip of the rod. Simply put, "the shorter the amount of line the shorter the rod arc".
If you "do less work you will achieve more".

The old adage of ten and two will apply for a given amount of fly line but definitely not all scenarios. This variation is also dictated by the design of your rod and the particular fly line you are using.

A cast of 10 metres (approx. 30ft) when using a 2.7m (9ft) rod and a standard length leader of 2.7m (9ft) then only requires 4.6m of fly line, roughly one & a half rod lengths. In this case try a much shorter back cast stroke and then push the rod tip out to above your target. Remember not to direct the rod to the water or your fly line will crash, aim above the water!

Patience at close range is essential
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Bow & Arrow Casting

Bow and Arrow Casting
Another option is the Bow and Arrow cast. How is it done and, is it safe for you rod.

This casting option comes into play when fish are very close, less than two rod lengths. Simply shorten your fly line and hold the line against the grip of the rod and hold your fly in an inverted position drawing the fly backwards as per drawing back a bow string. Bend the rod tip upward drawing the fly leader over the top of the rod and release when required.

Provided you do NOT hit your rod tip upon release on branches or the like, this casting technique is perfectly safe. To make the cast draw the rod tips backwards, DO NOT bend the rod in a tight "U" type curve or you WILL break your rod tip.

The Bow & Arrow cast is very practical is small streams and when you are in tight timbered areas when aerial casting is not an option. Despite what is often portrayed about trout, sometimes you can get amazingly close and hence the need for differing casting techniques.

Roll Casting

Finally, Roll casting (both on and off water) is very versatile at close range. Dry fly fishers often will use an off water roll cast to commence a casting sequence. This same technique can be used to deliver a fly in a single action when fishing short.

Nymphing or wet fly fishing is also a viable close range solution at time for trout and a simple roll cast will deliver a fly accurately and simply at close range. If you are not proficient at roll casting, these are skills worth brushing up on.

Bow & Arrow Casting
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Can you practice close casting and how do you go about it?
KISS "Keep it simple and straight". Practice by setting a target on grass or water at approximately 10 metres and delivery a practice fly or piece of wool in a "Pick Up and Lay Down Cast". Keeps the rod arc reasonably short, approximately one o'clock with midnight being directly above your head. Once you have that mastered this bring you target closer, say 7m and go through the process again slightly shortening the arc.

One very important point; the pick up for the back cast needs to be crisp. Remember the back cast is important in loading the rod and should be just as authoritative as your forward cast delivery.

For any reason if you are having casting difficulties, contact a fly casting teacher and have them take a look at your casting action to help you.

Short range casting techniques will open up a whole new arena of fishing. Even though you may feel slightly daunted at first, results will come your way with a little persistence.

Tight Lines!

Jeff Brown
Riverlands Fly & Sportsfishing

Small water can equal big fish
Small water can equal big fish
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