03/26/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Little Brown Stoneflies
4.    Quill Gordons
5.    Blue Quills
6.    Little Black Caddis

The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Casting Part 2
If you didn't read yesterday's article, this article may not make much sense to you. I
wrote about the fact that you shouldn't focus on making long cast but that you
should learn to cast accurately. I also mentioned I would get into what I call
"crooked" cast.

In addition, I wrote about getting a drag free drift and the fact you couldn't do that
making long cast across conflicting currents that are typical of the pocket water in
the Smokies. Actually, I didn't use the word "conflicting", but that means currents of
different speeds and directions. The current can grab your fly line and leader and
"drag" the fly across the water. You can mend you line, but I don't want to get into
mending line just yet for one simple reason. When you mend your line, in most
cases you're trying to correct an error made with your cast. There's plenty of
situations where you have to mend your line to get a good drift, but this isn't  always
necessary if your able to make the "crooked" cast that I will get into shortly.

By the way, it just occurred to me that I'm forgetting this is a basics article and I've
failed to explain what "mending" your fly line is. Mending is a way of picking the fly
line up off the water after a cast is made and placing it in a different position in order
to prevent the current from dragging your fly in an unnatural manner. It helps you
obtain a drag free drift, but the best way to prevent drag on the fly is to make a
good "crooked" cast.

When you make a cast, the general idea is to straighten out the fly line and leader.
When you cast a crooked, or a curved line, the line won't unroll correctly and the
distance of the cast will be less than it would be if you straightened out the fly line.
As mentioned before,  when you attempt to make a long cast,  it's almost impossible
to get much distance unless the fly line is straightened out on the back and forward
cast.

Since you don't need to make long cast to catch trout in the Smokies, you don't
necessarily need to straighten out your fly line and leader. By the way, this is also
true of fly fishing for trout most anywhere else. I rarely cast over thirty feet fishing for
trout, even on larger streams like the Madison River. In fact, most of my cast there
probably average about twenty feet and even less in some cases. I've caught at
least a thousand trout from the Madison using short cast, so I think it works quite
well. I'm not trying to boast about my fishing. I'm just trying to convince you that you
don't need to make long cast to catch trout. I'm also trying to tell you that in most
cases, long cast are a big disadvantage. Again, one reason long cast aren't usually
good is that you have to straighten out your fly line to obtain a lot of distance.

Let me explain what I call a crooked cast. If your fly line and leader lands on the
water with some slack in it, meaning it lands in a curve or a series of curves - not in
a straight line, the current that you line falls across has to take up the slack in the fly
line and leader before it can "drag" the fly.

Just imagine that your fly line is straightened out across the floor of your family room
from point A to point B, and that you pull on the fly line anywhere between the tip of
your rod and the leader. It will immediately pull the fly, provided you have one tied
on - preferably one without a hook. Contrary to that, if you arrange the fly line in a
series of curves across the floor from point A to point B, and you pull on the fly line
anywhere between the tip of your rod and the leader, the fly won't move until you
have taken all the slack out of the crooked line. If this same scenario occurred on
the surface of the water across the conflicting currents of the stream, the same
exact thing would occur. The current would have to pull all the slack or curves out of
the fly line before it affected the drift of the fly. The curves, or even one curve for
that matter, provides a cushion between the fly and the tip of your rod. On a
relatively short cast across conflicting currents, the cushion provided by the curves
in the fly line often provides just enough time to allow a drag free drift.

Now, that sounds simple doesn't it? The problem with this is getting the fly line
and/or leader to land on the water with slack in it. Making a cast that ends up on the
water with curves in it isn't always easy to accomplish. I should also mention that in
some cases, just a single curve in the leader or even the tippet can provides
enough slack to prevent dragging your fly. It all depends on the currents and the
length of the cast. It isn't always necessary to have a lot of slack in the fly line.  

Tomorrow, I will get into the short upstream cast in even more detail. On Monday, I
will also get into a new hatch that should start very soon - the Hendrickson hatch. I
spotted a few in the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg before the recent cold spell, so
they will start hatching in certain areas of the park very soon.

2011 James Marsh