LESSON FOUR: The Trout-Fly Event
To succeed in fly fishing, we need to become good casters primarily in
terms of accuracy, but also, under certain circumstances, in distance.
In our introduction, we mentioned that most of us learn the fundamentals
of casting through books or videos, casting schools, or, perhaps, from
a veteran fly-casting friend. But between fishing trips, these lessons
are lost, so it is necessary to practice our casting periodically. We
agreed that usually practice isn't fun, but we're going to make casting
practice "fun," to a point that many of us will actually look
forward to it.
Lesson Three: We discussed the Dry-Fly Event, which is not only
a springboard to successful trout fishing but very helpful in just about
every type of fly fishing where casting accuracy is needed. Assuming that
you've practiced the Dry-Fly Event, let's move on to one of the most exciting
casting challenges: The Trout-Fly Accuracy Event. This is a crucial
game because it stresses three very important and different casts: the
Dry-Fly, the Wet-Fly and the Roll-Cast presentations.
THE TARGETS: The placement of targets is exactly the same as for the
Dry-Fly Event (Lesson Three), so you don't have to change a thing. We'll
include a similar diagram of target placement in this lesson for your
THE TACKLE: You can use just about any fly-fishing tackle you have,
but I'd like to recommend an outfit for two reasons: (1) It's probably
the best outfit for 75 percent of the stream trout fishing you'll encounter,
and, (2) it will come close to what's required in casting tournaments
(hey, some of you are going to enjoy this so much and progress to a point
where you may want to enter local, regional or national casting tournaments).
Rod: Do you have an 8½-foot fly rod that is calibrated for
a No. 6 tapered fly line? Great. Use it for this event. If you don't
have one, use a fly rod that's comes closest to it in terms of length
and line weight.
The Line: A No. 6 tapered floating line. For this event a double-taper
(DT6F) line is preferable to a forward-taper (WF6F) fly line.
The Reel: Your normal single-action fly reel is perfect.
The Leader: At least 9-ft. long (which is standard for most trout
fishing) tapered to about .008 (3X) or less.
The Fly: Use a practice fly (see Lesson Three) but trim it so
that the wound hackle is about a half inch in diameter. Or, if you prefer,
tie on a small piece of bright yarn to the tippet.
EVENT: As mentioned, there are three different casting rounds in this
event: Dry Fly, the Wet Fly and the Roll Cast. Let's do them in the sequence:
THE DRY-FLY ROUND
Hold the practice fly in the non-casting hand with no more than the leader
plus two feet of line extending beyond the rod tip. Now start false casting
so that the line, leader and fly are moving in the air, back and forth
without intentionally striking the surface in front of you. While false
casting, strip some fly line from your reel and let it pass through the
rod guides, until you think you have enough line out to hit the first
target. If you feel that you have let out too much line to hit the near
target, strip in some line while false casting. After adjustments are
made, and your fly seems to hover over the target while false casting,
make the final forward cast or presentation and allow the fly to settle
on the target. That's it! Nice going.
Now you are
ready for the second target. Lift the fly off the ground or water and
begin false casting again over the second target. Adjust your line by
stripping out more line from the reel and letting it feed through the
guides. If you let out too much line, strip some in. When you think the
fly will land in the center of the target, make your presentation and
drop the fly into the target. Now proceed to the third, fourth and fifth
target. This completes the Dry-Fly Round. If you miss the target by one
foot or less you have a demerit of one. If you miss by more than one foot,
the maximum demerits you receive are two. In the official tournament rules
there are other demerits (such as ticks, improper strips, etc.), but right
now we don't have to be concerned with them. Keep track of your demerits
and total them for the Dry-Fly Round.
THE WET-FLY ROUND
Okay, now strip in the line (don't reel it in) and hold the fly in your
noncasting hand with no more than two feet of fly line beyond the tip
of the rod. Begin to false cast and let out line through the guides until
you feel that your fly is over the near target. You can make as many false
casts as you like on the first target. When you're ready, make your presentation.
Now lift the fly line make only one false cast in which you allow enough
line to slip through the guides to reach the second target. After a single
false cast you must make your presentation. Lift the line again, make
one false cast and go to the third target. Repeat the procedure and aim
the fly to the fourth and finally the fifth target. Remember: Only one
false cast is allowed between targets. Use the same demerit system that
you used for the Dry-Fly Round. Keep track of your score for the Wet-Fly
THE ROLL-CAST ROUND
After your final cast in the Wet-Fly Round you retrieve the line by stripping
it in until the fly is at the closest target. Now you roll cast and try
to hit the first target. After you hit it, you go to the next nearest
target, and when you hit that continue to the third, fourth and fifth
target in the same sequence as in the two previous rounds. Simple? Right?
almost. I forgot to tell you something. You have to hit all five targets
within a total of 15 roll casts. That's not easy to do. You may need to
brush up on roll casting (again Wulff, Kreh, Krieger, and others have
marvelous how-to-cast books and videos). You get two demerits for each
target you do not hit. In other words, if you hit three targets within
the 15 allotted casts, you get four demerits (two demerits for each of
the two targets you didn't hit).
Note: This round is best cast on water, but it can be done on land
(it's just harder to roll cast on ground because you don't have the pull
of the water on your line to help load the rod. If you cast on ground
you might increase the number of allotted roll casts). The best way to
lengthen the line from one target to another is to wiggle the rod tip
back and forth, allowing loose line to pass through the guides.
Add the demerits from the Dry-Fly, Wet-Fly and Roll-Casting rounds. Subtract
the total demerits from 100 and you have your score.
Keep a simple scorecard so that you can observe your progress.
It's important to keep track of your scores. As you improve your casting
skills, so will your scores, and this will motivate you to practice more.
Here's my arbitrary score rating for the Trout-Fly Event. We will not
count ticks, improper strip demerits, etc. Just accuracy demerits.
Under 70: Something is wrong somewhere. Your math? My math? It's impossible
to cast under 70, since we're not counting ticks and other nonaccuracy
demerits right now. You can only get 10 demerits in each of the three
to 80: You're casting is a little rusty, but you'll notice improvement
very quickly as you continue to practice. Keep it up!
81 to 85: You've got the basics down fairly well. You're doing
86 to 90: You're casting very well! Excellent casting mechanics.
Good eye-and-hand coordination.
91 to 95: Superb! What else can I say?
96 to 100 (Super Elite Class): You should enter the ACA National
Casting Tournament! You're among the top 1 percent of fly casters in
THE TROUT-FLY EVENT HELP OUR FISHING? Casting accuracy is vital in
nearly all fly fishing, but especially fishing for trout and salmon.
Dry-Fly Round: We've covered the benefits of the Dry-Fly segment
in Lesson Three, so I won't repeat them here.
The Wet-Fly Round: You're fishing a streamer, nymph, wet fly or
even a dry. A trout rises to take a natural or you see that flash underneath
the surface. You need to deliver the fly quickly and accurately. You have
time for one false cast and delivery. In the wet-fly event you learn to
shoot line on the back cast or on the forward cast.
In subsurface fishing you may want to cover a section systematically by
fan casting. Lift. One false cast. Deliver. Allow the fly to do
its thing and then lift, false cast (allow some line through the guides)
and deliver. Keep repeating this.
casting is a basic fishing approach for Atlantic salmon but can be employed
with most river or stream fishing, especially when fishing wets in discolored
The Roll-Cast Round: If you fish small, brushy streams, or even
big rivers where you can't make a back cast, the roll cast is not only
imperative, it is essential for fishing success. You learn accuracy and
how to lengthen your roll cast. Many neophytes never practice roll casting,
except when absolutely necessary-while fishing! Caption: The Wet-Fly Event
comes in handy for many stream applications. This angler is fan casting
on a salmon river, but you can use the same approach on trout streams
with wet flies and streamers
HOW TO MAKE THIS MORE FUN: Again you should keep track of your
scores. By practicing often, you will notice improvement on a continuing
basis. Use my arbitrary scoring system presented above and try to move
from one level of skill to another. This will fuel your enthusiasm for
more practice. The Trout-Fly Event teaches you three important types of
casting. In fact, if you learn these three casts well, your fishing results
will zoom. Guaranteed!
As per Lesson Three, get your friends, family, fishing club, TU or other
organizations to become involved in this wholesome, worthwhile fun activity.
Learning the Trout-Fly Event is challenging. Practice it! Don't give up
easily. Suddenly it will come to you, and your going to feel very good
about your casting, and most importantly, catch more and bigger fish.
- Jim C. Chapralis
Next Lesson: The Bass-Bug Event (Okay, we've concentrated on the
trout fishers, so next we'll learn a fascinating game that will help you
improve your results for bass and for other species where you need to
throw a larger fly, quickly, accurately and farther).