Mike Oliver

Whole Fly Line Challenge.

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Messing on Y Tube and I came across James Tomlinson casting up to 150 feet. He used a tape. So in a spare moment whilst on a family vacation I took advantage of a huge meadow next to our rental house. The line I was casting  is a Rio  Grande 6 wt, rod 6 wt Igniter which is a very good match. Dang me after 50 attempts at clearing all of the fly line outside the tip top I failed. Three of them were agonisingly close just two inches short. The line is claimed to be 90 long. So target failed miserably.

Ok I got past the holy grail of 90 feet with a  6 foot long leader but that does not count.

When you lay out 90 feet of fly line it looks a very long way. I warmed up. 60 feet a cake walk. 75 feet no probs.  80 feet consistently made as was 85. But 90 not this week.

So it is back to the drawing board and looking for problems with technique.

Google up James.

Mike

Edited by Mike Oliver

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Jon, Agreed. When you go for a long line carry with the Grand it breaks down. But it could also be my bad technique. To be fair to James Tomlinson he said he was using regular fishing lines. But did not share the models.

I guess my motivation for doing this was to see the difference a whole lot of casting lessons have made. Definitely up to 75 feet. Interestingly distance is not a big feature in the casting exams 65 feet with haul and shoot. Which really is a cake walk. The overall emphasis is technical form and understanding. This is good but not helpful especially to ocean and still water Anglers.
What is surprising is the reality of 90 feet when you pull the line out. It is a long way. 75 feet is impressive.

Then real world conditions come into play. When going for these distances I was casting indicator yarn and could chose wind direction. Size 1 Clouser or Deceiver and a difficult wind make these land mark distances pretty nigh on impossible for everyone. Sorry I know you know this just sharing what’s passing through my head.

In the fly comps it’s unreal. The court is arranged where possible so Casters have a tailwind. Some events the Caster is elevated. Only yarn is cast. The running line is laid out nicely and often done by a helper.

The skill is undeniable but for me lacks purpose and ties to actual fishing.

How about casting a fly and having to cast both into and with the wind and taking the average.

Mike

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Mike, could this just be the intemtional limits to the engineering of the whole system?

 

Fly line design, coupled with rod design and guide layout?  

 

Sort of like in spinning / surfcasting, most rods are designed to cast a load weighing less than 3 oz even if they are rated higher?  It is an imposed design limitation based on public demand/opinion.  Most plugs weigh under 3 oz. Could fly rods and lines be designed to optimally only cast only 60-70 feet?

 

In my fly casting, I have been reflecting recently on a similar condition I have found between two totally different lines, there seems to be a consistent limit to how far I can cast them both, even though the are advertised as being within 5 grains of eachother, they have totally different head length and shapes, and one is intermediate and the other is a bulkier floating line.. I suspect that it is just a limit of friction, the rod, and my current skill level.

 

I know little about distance fly casting, but like anything else there is probably a limit to our aptitude and natural talent that cannot be overcone by training, practice, or lessons.  In terms of technique, personal form and bio mechanics are interlinked. Personal form may be different than academic form.  Consider professional pitchers in baseball or profession golfers, their form is wildly varied....sometime we see some bizaar interpretation of form.  In short the althetes that stand out have a freakish talent that most of us dont have.

 

It is difficult to decouple enginnering from application.  No matter the discipline it is better for the fish and angler to catch them closer. For starters, there is the factor of line and fly control in presentation. There is also the factor of landing propability and fighting fatigue that is not often discussed. Having the choice,  I would opt not to catch a fish at the end of any cast. It is better for the fish. Conventional, spinning, or fly. Even for the angler the end of cast catch is fun for the first couple of fish, but after a while it becomes a chore especially if they are big. Hookset power is robbed the more line we have out.  The farther out the fish the more time for something to go wrong.

 

As you know, I fish tenkara for trout and the one thing it has taught me is how close fish are. There is a strange human condition to target the opposite bank when there is perfectly good structure in front of us. Even with such a short line I have dialed in a length that is the perfect balance of casting precision and fly control. That length is much shorter than the length the rod can mechanically cast. It is about half and this is with a tenkara rod.  I could fish a 24 foot line, but I choose to fish a 14 foot line. It is all about fly control being more important than casting radius.

 

Fly casting form and practice is necessary for us to improve, but form and casting distance is also such a small part of our fly fishing sucess.

 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

2 hours ago, Mike Oliver said:

 

The skill is undeniable but for me lacks purpose and ties to actual fishing.

.

Mike

Hi Mike

You're fooling yourself here. 

 

Casting against a tape measure is unforgiving.  To progress you have to improve and to improve you have to learn how to cast better.  And learning to cast better has benefits every time you pick up a fly rod.

 

Likewise, it is a mistake to denigrate competition distance techniques (i.e., 170 'stopless' style) as unsuited to saltwater fishing.  Distance and turnover into hard wind is all about carry, line speed, and trajectory (not loop size) and nothing generates line speed like learning to cast without a hard stop....forwards and backwards. 

 

Real world example.  For thirty years I could cast 75-80' poorly. It was adequate to catch plenty of fish. During the pandemic I set a goal to learn to cast farther. It took loads of work but I progressed.  This winter, on the bonefish flats (where I rarely made a cast over 60'), my success rate per chance more than doubled and I used rods, in all winds, 2 line weights lighter than I needed previously.  Fishing with a fly rod is now waaaaaaaay more fun than it used to be.  I was an idiot for not doing this decades ago......although finding time for the necessary practice back then would have been tough.

 

All the best

G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by numbskull

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17 mins ago, puppet said:

Mike, could this just be the intemtional limits to the engineering of the whole system?

Fly line design, coupled with rod design and guide layout? ....................................

 

Fly casting form and practice is necessary for us to improve, but form and casting distance is also such a small part of our fly fishing sucess.

 

Hi Puppet.

The answer to your first question is mostly no.  

Equipment has a very minor role in how far one can cast.  Maybe 5% or so for a good caster.  For a bad caster, which is most of us, that changes some as equipment can sometimes act as a crutch.  Witness the popularity of overweighted short head lines.  But relying on a crutch ultimately holds you back. 

 

As for your second statement I'd suggest that experience gained Tenkara fishing is not readily applicable to many fly fishing situations saltwater fishermen face (and vice versa).  Whatever you decide to do, learning to do it well usually translates into greater success.  Fly casting is no different.  

 

Regards

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Mike, convert those measurements into centimeters....same distance but the number sounds very impressive in casual conversation !  I look at the numbers some post about when the subject comes up and shake my head. I have a measured 90ft across my casting lawn so I know realistically the distances, and I take note of the differences as I like to practice in real world wind conditions applicable to how we fish. 

There's a good reason flylines are 90-100ft long, not 120-150...manufacturers know it's the upper range for the best casters in real world conditions. Think of how much they could charge for a 150ft premium line if there was any call or need for them.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

1 hour ago, numbskull said:

Hi Puppet.

The answer to your first question is mostly no.  

Equipment has a very minor role in how far one can cast.  Maybe 5% or so for a good caster.  For a bad caster, which is most of us, that changes some as equipment can sometimes act as a crutch.  Witness the popularity of overweighted short head lines.  But relying on a crutch ultimately holds you back. 

 

As for your second statement I'd suggest that experience gained Tenkara fishing is not readily applicable to many fly fishing situations saltwater fishermen face (and vice versa).  Whatever you decide to do, learning to do it well usually translates into greater success.  Fly casting is no different.  

 

Regards

G,

It may be that my note on tackle engineering limits were misinterpreted.   I was pointing at the general engineering if we were to lump all flyrods and flylines under one umbrella.  The total result and effective range is a practical limitation.  Sort of like, the practical distance we can effectively present, or the number of guides and attributes of a rod needed for fish fighting and durability. On a similar comparison on how I get the impression for long distance surfcasting, the rods are often not designed to be fished.

 

Regarding tenkara,  the casting stroke and techniques are totally different than with a fly rod and reel.  There is barely any overlap other than in some very primary attributes.   The approach might as well be the difference between spin fishing and flyfishing.   I am just beginning my journey flyfishing the salt.  What I am noting here is that if we want to have contact and control with our presentation, the more line out we have the more difficult it is to have contact and control especially if we are fishing current.  I feel the principles are scalable between disciplines, as I will even employ some of the tenkara principles to my surfcasting with spinning gear.  There are things I will do with needles and bucktails that are no different than what I do with a wet fly.

Edited by puppet

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2 hours ago, numbskull said:

 Witness the popularity of overweighted short head lines.  But relying on a crutch ultimately holds you back. 

 

 

 

The 30' "over weighted" heads typically weigh the same or less than all 42' of a "normal" head.You're still loading the rod w/ the same # of grns ...or possibly more w/ the long belly(maybe why some like them better;bcz the rod is overloaded).

300gr ,whether 30' head or 42' is still 300 gr and it still comes down to ability.Attempting to blame head length for ones shortcomings in ones lack of ability is just making excuses.

Using a long belly you aerialize/carry more line before shooting(cheating, IMO) and w/ a short head you can load the rod quickly,make the cast and get back to the business at hand,which is fishing,not casting.More strokes w/ a longer belly.Adds up after a long day.

I cast similar distances whether short or long head,just have less strokes w/ a short head.

I use long bellies when I'm short or roll casting a small stream or from a yak/drifter and short head for distance and efficiency in covering water.

Edited by slip n slide

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@slip n slide
I am curious on what you note and then what numskull notes about using lines two weights lighter.

 

If we have the skill to put more line in the air to reach rod load then in theory we can can cast further as there is a limit to how much line can shoot through the guides before the friction slows it down. 

 

I also suspect the windier it is the harder it is to have all the line aloft.

 

Forgive me for I am new to all this and trying to wrap my head around so many conflicting concepts.

 

In the field, as you note, going from a retrieve that ends close to us, to casting our limit does take more strokes and effort on a longer head, over an outing this reduces our efficiency.

 

Seems like long and short heads, casting distance and practical fishing create a bit of a mess of considerations. 

 

I am not sure if this us accurate but i also find a wet line seems to have more friction as I can never cast as far on the water as I can in the yard.  In the yard I typically see only a couple of wraps of running line on the reel, on the water the backing is completely covered.  

 

 

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I spent most of my life continually pressing for more casting distance.  At an early age I arm-wrestled an Orvis instructor who had a grip on my hand trying to keep my shoulder tight to my body, my backcast hard-stopped at 1 o'clock. and my cast pretty and soft at 30 feet.  I was aiming for the far wall of the building.....and it was reachable.

 

I entered the only two casting competitions hosted by the then dominant fly shop in our city (known for a lot of fly fishing and fishermen)...and won them both.....ending the general local interest in casting competitions. When I posted my distances, with standard (for the NW) steelhead gear (supplied by the shop).....on this forum I was called a liar by a prominent, frequent poster.  I stopped posting for 5 years.  Years later he apologized, admitting those distances were, decades later, within the realm of possibility.

 

Conversely, 40 years ago I bought a highly touted Winston blank, and discovered to my horror that it came with a unique caveat.  The flyer accompanying the blank explained, "this rod is specifically designed to cast perfectly between 35-45 feet.......because that is the distance at which most fish (trout....SW fly fishing was in its infancy then) are caught.  It is also the distance at which your accuracy and ability to meaningfully manipulate the line and leader to maximize your control of the presentation.  We gaurantee that this rod, by making you seek and focus on fishing at that distance, will make you a BETTER FISHERMAN."  That last sentence I took as a challenge....since obviously this rod was not going to make be a longer caster.   In other words......wade long....and cast..... short.   After using that rod on the Deschutes, a huge, deep river by eastern standards, for three years, I agreed with everything that flyer promised.

 

I also noted, as my fishing world expanded and I joined a group of "international-travelling" fishermen to nearly all points both east and west, that the best, by far, fisherman (AT CATCHING FISH!) in the group......ALL fish, from SW to fresh........was also the least impressive caster.   Note to anyone who knows who I am talking about.......NEVER let him follow right behind you through a steelhead run.....using the same fly and technique.  It almost made me take up golf.  His casting is so uninspiring that a naive forum member who joined my cape cod group for a year, partnered with him on a guide boat, OFFERED TO CAST for him!

 

After a 63 year fly fishing career, most of it enjoying enough arm strength and good enough technique to stand out casting-wise, my (possibly) final position on this issue is.......there is CASTing.......and there is FISHing.  There are times when I caught fish I could reach that others couldn't.....but there are just as many times when others were catching more fish in close, UNDER the area my fly was spending most of its time in.  There are also times when I went for the long cast.....and flubbed it.  Less accuracy, less fly line control, WAY more line stretch that resulted in a poor hook set.  These are the inevitable realities on the far side of those chest-beating distances.

 

The best, most consistent thing I can say about the pursuit of distance is......the better the technique, the more efficient.  If you can cast beyond 90' with consistency, then at the 60-80' distances you can cast all day long on auto-pilot: fewer strokes, faster delivery, hopefully better accuracy.  Wind becomes more manageable.  But make no mistake....your FISH-ability in terms of accuracy, delicate presentation, seeing/tracking the fish, manipulation of the fly, hookset, etc. go down rapidly with each extra foot.  The energy and focus spent on casting "way out there" is energy and focus NOT spent on looking for fish, nuances of current, structure, spotting baitfish/crustaceans, making a zillion decisions about really finding fish and getting them right in front of you.

 

In reality, we are all facing a "gear limitation"  of 90-100 feet just as significant as that 35-45 foot limit that Winston rod created for trout fishing.  If your flyline was only 60 feet long, you would have to: look more carefully....closer,....walk/wade/pole/drift..... closer. ......present more accurately/softly,.......see (and respond) to every nuance of the fish's reaction to my presentation and fly....closer.  Many times, on the bow of a familiar guide's boat on a flat, the guide will spot a fish "way out there".  I might strip out an extra yank or two of line, re-straighten my shooting line.....all in preparation to start the false cast cycle.  "No, no.....wait.  We can get much closer.  Your cast will be better."  He knows, from being out there day in and day out, that the chances of spooking the fish or losing the chance due to other factors is LESS than waiting for the better, more e-FISH-ency of the shorter presentation.

 

There are two worlds/circles out there.  CASTing and FISHing.  What we are talking about here is the area where those two circles overlap......and which is "better".  Depends on the individual.  I have loved the dynamics of casting for 63 years, even now with probably half my former arm strength.  That translates into a loss of maybe 10-15 feet of my longest-best.  But, I don't miss it because I had reached a point when, if the shoot came out of the basket clean, I started the retrieve and thought...wow, I have almost no feeling of contact with the fly......this retrieve is going to hit bottom and pick up weeds because it's sinking longer than those other casts.....the current is putting a really big curve in the line......will I even feel a subtle take?  And then something catches my eye and I realize a really BIG bass is crossing the bar BEHIND me, between me and the shore, and there is NO CHANCE IN HELL  I can get all this damn line in and present to it before it is gone.

 

I am fully convinced that for every fish I actually caught way out there in rarified distances, I lost more from a poor presentation or hook-set, a snagged long retrieve, or just plain inattention and focus on the closer water  Or stupid, stubborn OVER-casting from where the fish really were.  To me, there are a zillion good reasons for learning the technique to cast way out to the point that your (everyone's) FISHing skills and physics deteriorate.  But there is a cost for the loss of focus and energy on FISHIng.

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2 hours ago, puppet said:

 

It may be that my note on tackle engineering limits were misinterpreted.........   

 

....... On a similar comparison on how I get the impression for long distance surfcasting, the rods are often not designed to be fished.

.

Hi Puppet

Sorry to misinterpret your point.

With regards to fly rods, my understanding is that most competitive distance casters use 'regular' fishing rods for events that use full fly lines (i.e., 5w, 7wt distance) and the lighter shooting head events.  Loomis does make a specialized very stiff blank for heavier competitive shooting head events.  Interestingly their warranty does not cover it for fishing applications b/o breakage risk if high sticked.   

Pertinent to your point, perhaps, is that most guys use @10wt rods to throw 5wt lines in these competitions but none would advocate fishing such a setup.  That said, the actual distance gain by using a 10wt rod vs a 6wt rod to throw a 5wt MED line is only a few feet.  In competition those few feet matter, while  fishing they do not.  

Competition guide systems nowadays are mostly ceramic but again any distance gain is marginal.   

 

I often hear/read that accuracy is more important than distance.....as if the two are mutually exclusive.  I've never fished with an expert distance caster but I seriously doubt he/she would have trouble fishing accurately at shorter distances.  I do, however, fish with guys who can put a fly where they want it on a trout stream but give up when faced with 20+kts on a saltwater flat.   Unsaid, is the fact that there is the huge additional area of presentation casts and single handed spey casts (lets leave the two handed stuff out of it because obviously it is cheating ;) ).  For people who concentrate on small-medium sized rivers I can absolutely see these being a priority over mastering distance skills.

 

G

 

.

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I’ll throw about another aspect of distance - 80’ on a good day can become 40-50’ with unfavorable conditions. That might still be good enough to keep a fly rod in you hands but if your max is 50’ you’re reaching for a spinning rod when the conditions crap out. 
 

In the end, a cast is a cast and a line is a line. A good caster is comfortable with any line regardless of its make up. One may very well have their preferences but a good caster can work with anything. 

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Long belly is not cheating. It is better in headwind. Floating one you can pick up earlier than a brick on a string. I find it cheating that some ”6” lines are really 9wt lines. Line weights don’t work like that. Let’s consider a 90’ sinking DT line that weighs about 500gr. Using a 2” sinker with the same weight isn’t fly fishing anymore. The DT is. And the DT is not cheating.

 

There are places for the short heads thou. I sometimes use them.

 

I hate 90’ SW lines. 110’ is pretty much pefect. Casting into a tailwind from the aft of a boat trying to get the fly to a school of feeding fish that evade the boat needs long casts. I’ve needed long casts on flats too.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Lines are a complete mess. They’re a stated line wt but some are sized ‘up’ to some extent. Then some 6wt rods are really 8s (or whatever). Combine the two issues and it’s a bit of a mess. 

Edited by Drew C.

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