Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Change Of Direction

My next post about common river fishing faults and mistakes covers casting and in particular not using a change of direction cast when one is required. Change of direction casts are simple to perform and every flyfisher should be able to do at the least one type if they are to get the most from their flyfishing, on river or stillwater...

I see more anglers get into tangles or wrap their line around the rod tip through not using a change of direction (C.O.D.) cast than anything else. Because a river is constantly moving, our line starts to move as soon as it touches down. It follows then that if we are to recast to a similar position next cast, as is usually the case, there will be some change of direction, unless fishing directly upstream or downstream. Take a typical situation of fishing wet flies across and down. We present out flies across the river and they eventually end up on the dangle downstream. We take a step downstream and need to recast, but we have a change of direction of 90°, or thereabouts. There are 4 options to achieve this C.O.D:
  1. We just ignore the change of direction and cast as normal = inefficient and doomed to fail, leaving a tangled or slack leader.
  2. We strip the line until it is short enough to pick up and recast = time consuming and hard work, therefore inefficient.
  3. We overhead cast changing direction bit by bit with false casts = time consuming and hard work, therefore inefficient, but also has the potential to scare fish with repeated false casts.
  4. Perform a C.O.D cast = efficient, fast and with practice it gives good presentation from the moment it touches down, and it looks good!

Time for a "Change of Direction Cast"!
The angler’s flies have fished round
onto the ‘dangle’ and following a
step or two downstream they will
need recasting across the river again.
The most efficient way to do this is
by utilising a change of direction cast.
We have a similar situation when fishing upstream at an angle, e.g. upstream dry or upstream nymph; the line eventually ending up across stream and in need of recasting upstream again. If the line is lifted from the water with an overhead backcast, then cast upstream with an overhead forward cast, we break the 180° principle, which states that the backcast should be directly opposite the target (i.e. 180°). If the cast is timed correctly it will still result in poor presentation. If the timing is wrong, the rod tip on the forward stroke will collide with the line still travelling backwards and across the path of the rod tip.

The answer is simple - use a C.O.D. cast, which will ultimately result in less tangles, more enjoyment and more fish. I'm not going to describe here how to perform a C.O.D. cast (I would advise you visit a good flyfishing instructor), but they are quick and easy to learn, especially if your roll cast is up to speed. The simple change of direction roll cast will suffice in most trout fishing situations, or if you want to be more adventurous you could even learn to Spey cast (no they are not just for salmon fishers and double handed rods!). Never again will you struggle to cast in any direction.