Line size, Tippet size, Fly presentation, Distance casts.

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Fly fishing questions page 17.

Questions can be about any aspect of fly fishing, fly casting, casting instruction, fishing in Scotland or abroad, fly fishing courses, fishing flies, etc. The following is just a random selection of questions that have been send by readers and answered by Ally. If you have a question that you wish to ask please do not hesitate to complete the form.

Questions:

Distance casts
Fly presentation
Line size
Tippet size

Line size

Question: I have a 7 wt fly rod and I am looking for Weight Forward Floating Line - but I am not clear if I MUST only use a 7 wt fly line. If I cannot find a 7 wt fly line (WF7F) are there any real problems if I use a 5 wt fly line (for example)?

Answer: It should be very easy to buy a WF7F fly line they are popular and available from lots of online stores and fly shops. A 5 wt fly line is really not suitable for any except expert casters in conjunction with a 7 wt rod. You might be able to use the rod with a 6 wt or an 8 wt. There are no hard and fast rules on this and any line that you are comfortable with will be OK but if you are learning it is probably best to obtain a 7wt line.

Tippet size
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Question: I have a 7.5 foot 5 weight fly rod with a 6 weight floating line I want to use it for trout pan fish and lake bass what size leader and tippet should I use?

Answer: Tippet "X" size relates to fly the hook size, a rule of thumb in the UK is to divide the hook size by 3 to get the "X" diameter. In USA I think that they usually divide by 4. So if you use a #12 hook in the UK we would say 4X but in the USA the answer would be 3X. This is just a guide but it is quite reliable for normally dressed flies.

Fly presentation
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Question: I have some queries on how to properly fish out a cast. I don't want to go into too much detail here as I don't want to lead you in your answer. I am a self- taught fly fisher and have been very successful in my salmon fishing. But I am wondering how many fish I have been missing due to bad presentation/drag/fly travelling too fast. If you could go into details on casting angle, mending, how often to mend during a cast, what to do when current is coming towards the bank, do you follow the cast with the rod, what to do when the current is very fast or when the current is too slow to move the line by much?

Answer: Probably the reason for the lack of specific advice on how exactly a fly might be fished according to conditions is simply that there are too many variables and possibly a myriad of ways to fish a fly in any situation any of which may be successful. So much can depend on water clarity, depth and speed, current distribution, structure, volume, temperature and possibly other factors such as height fluctuation, tide, wind and atmospheric pressure, fly size, line type etc. etc. There are also some good constants such as perfect presentation (however intended) and fishing the fly in a certain way so that you can if unsuccessful make deliberate changes to what you are doing. Reading the water to determine where salmon lies, causing minimum disturbance and choosing the best time of day and light direction are also important for consistent success. It never ceases to amaze me how many salmon are caught by what appears to be chance and all experienced anglers will have had their share of them. Playing the percentages is something that usually derives from a great deal of time on the water under all conditions. As to how many fish are not caught due to poor presentation that is a difficult question. It is often said that 90% of fish are caught by 10% of the anglers. The best way to get into the 10% band is to watch carefully what the best anglers are doing; many of them will vary presentation as they go to cover as many bases as possible.

Distance casts
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Question: This may seem like a stupid question but I've never found anybody who mentioned the subject in all the books, web sites and videos I've consulted in an attempt to increase casting distance and technique. At present I can comfortably and reliably cast 15 yards. With an effort I can stretch this to twenty yards but the extra effort leads to tailing loops, dropping back casts, you name it. I can manage to double haul but it makes no difference to my distance and ends with the same problems when I 'push it'. My question is what length of line should I be aerialising during my double haul false casts? I suspect that currently I might be trying to keep too much line in the air before the final shoot. After a retrieve, I role cast about 5 yards onto the water in front of me then false cast, shooting some line each time until things begin to feel just a tad unstable and then on the next forward cast I shoot what I can. Sometimes it works but often it ends with a rubbish shoot or a 'wind knot'. Should I not try so hard and content myself with shorter casts whilst hoping that the practice will eventually lead to better timing (I do pause longer as I let more line out etc.) or have I got my ideas in a fankle about what I should be doing?

Answer: Most competent casters can use the WF head length plus a few feet for double hauled false casts. With a standard WF line that would be around 45-50 feet of fly line outside the tip ring so a casting distance of around 65ft including rod and leader perhaps without shooting line. For long distance expert casters will shoot line on the last back cast and speed up the haul on the following forward cast. Casting distance is related to stroke length (just like golf or throwing) and experts increase stroke length using legs, body movement and drift. It is very important that all casting strokes start slowly and finish fast, if the fast part is not at the end a tail will almost certainly result.

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.