No Casting, is it Fly-fishing?

by Tony Bishop on August 5, 2005

I was talking with a friend about a small river we regularly fish, but not together. We were swapping lies we had found, that is lies as in where trout lie, not the lies we tell after a fishing trip. In the course of the conversation I revealed that in one section of the river I did not cast. Using a wet line I would let the line out, and then by swinging the rod, swing the fly into likely fish holding spots, while slowly moving down the river – a very successful technique it is too.

Now this little river is not easy to fish, there is undergrowth up to the waters edge, and overhanging vegetation problems too, mainly dreaded blackberry bushes. The bottom of the river is a veritable minefield of fallen trees and branches, and nearly all the best lies are under the overgrowth, and in behind the bottom fixtures.

Despite all the problems of casting and manipulating the line to go where it should go, my friend was horrified at my ‘confession,’ “That is not fly-fishing,” he squawked.

“Damn right it is,” I replied.

“But you are not casting,” he retorted.

“What are you on about, I am definitely fly-fishing, and also definitely not fly-casting. If you want to indulge in fly-casting go to somewhere where there are no fish, and cast away happy in the knowledge you will not be interrupted by a fish,” I replied, a tad miffed.

You see my view is that fly-fishing is about presenting a fly to a fish that is in the right place and looks edible, the fly that is. If casting on a stretch of water is an exercise in frustration because of the encircling vegetation, and even if you can get a cast away then trying to manoeuvre the fly in front of the fish is nigh on impossible, it is time to be acutely aware of the difference between fly-casting and fly-fishing.

To me, wasting valuable fishing time swearing and cursing each time a hook-up is achieved on a tree, bush or Triffid, just to cast a fly is pointless.

Unbendable rule about fly-fishing, the longer your fly is in the water the greater your chances of catching fish – the more often your fly is in water likely to hold fish the chances of catching fish sky-rocket. Another unbendable rule, no trout has ever been caught while a fly is in the air being cast. So I will persist with quietly moving downstream, leading the fly into dark shadows, and places no cast will ever place a fly, and regularly being interrupted by some trout who lets it guard down for just a moment to munch my fly.

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