Fishing Report from The Angler's Mark.
Capt. Lawrence Piper is an Amelia Island, Florida back country fishing guide and is a Certified Fly Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International. He can be reached at www.TheAnglersMark.com 904-557-1027 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Practice 1: Learn to get your fly line up in the air! You’re on the bow of the boat or you’ve waded out into the spartina grass and you see a tailing fish and you’ve got to get the line up in the air and make the cast. Learn how to make a “Quick Cast”. I like Joan Wulff’s method: Strip enough line out to reach the fish. Most of it is piled at your feet but leave about 15’-20’ hanging from the tip of the rod. Grasp the bend of the hook in your left (line) hand. With your rod hand also pinning the line against the rod, make a roll cast towards the fish and let the cast pull the hook from your hand. As it is rolling out, move your now empty line hand to the line, grasp the line, and make a good back cast. Now you’re ready to make the forward cast and shoot the line and fly to the tailing fish. You want to practice this so that you can make the cast with no additional false casting. Roll it out, make the back cast, make the forward cast and shoot the line to the fish.
Practice 2: Pick up and Lay Down. This is easy! It’s just a basic cast, but practice it anyway. When you see a tailing Redfish and make an excellent cast, the fish may not see the fly and move on, or it may turn and feed an opposite direction. Just “pick up and lay down” out in front of the tailing fish. Try not to make a loud pick up – make it nice and smooth and try to minimize any false casting. Pick it up. Lay it down.
Practice 4: Get more distance with Double Haul I hesitate to mention this but I’m assuming that you’ve got a good cast already and you’re getting good loops. If not, practice you cast until you’re getting good loops BEFORE you move on to the Double Haul. I get a lot of Trout anglers who have some pretty good casts but try as they might, they can only hit 30’-35”. I always check to see if they are double hauling, and most are not. Get an instructor in your area to give you a lesson on the Double Haul. Practice it. Read articles on it. Watch some videos. For those that do use a haul, one of the most common mistakes I see is that the caster hauls down….but leaves their haul (line) hand down by their side and doesn’t let the unrolling line pull that line hand up to the reel. Slack is then induced during the ensuing stroke…there is less load in the rod…the cast is not as efficient…and good distance is not achieved. Again, you don’t always have to make a long cast, but it sure is frustrating for you when the fish is at 40’ and we can only cast 35’!
Wade Slowly! If you do wade towards a fish, wade slowly! They have an uncanny way of knowing that something is up and if they feel you coming, many times they will sink and disappear.
6.7 to 7.3 High tides are what I look for when expecting tailing Reds. It’s a “rule of thumb” and not always right, but check your tide charts and plan on being on the water and beginning to look 2 hours before the predicted high tide.
Use a strip set when the fish takes the fly, use a “strip set” rather than lifting the rod tip to set the hook. Strip set, get the hookup, then lift the fly rod.