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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Yeah, I've said it myself on occasion. By way of checking I took my new 14' St Croix Imperial, lined with a 9/10 mid-spey, out to the Stave this morning. I took careful note of how much line I had out on the average cast. When I got back home I measured it. The average "clean cast" was between seventy and eighty feet. The very odd one may have gone ninety, but anything over that I could not get my sink leader to turn over. If there are "average casters" out there, not spey gurus, who regularly cast 100 or 120ft please tell me the secret. I've been spey casting for the last four years and feel a serious need to improve my game.
 

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Hi Bebop: Before you can be helped you have to answer a serious question. Do you want to spend your timecasting or do you want to cast to catch fish? If your answer is the latter forget about 100"plus casts. There are very few people, in spite of what they may claim ,that can feel a fish at the end of a 100 ' cast and even fewer whocan strike and land the fish.
It worth remembering also that 90 percent of the fish lie within 30 feet of the bank and few steelhead are lying in water more than 6 feet deep.
I suggest you would be better served as a fisherman by developing yur ability th make 100 percent of your casts perfectly both in terms of distance ,direction and turnover of your leader and fly. Perfect casts of 80 feet which cover the water at nice even 4foot intervals will make you one of the best fishermen.
 

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Very good advice, I must say !

Being able to cast long distances does not equate to catching more river fish to me. Cast placement and mending ability do though.

My 2 cents
 

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Amen to L A Smithers advice. The thing that bugs me the most about all the XLT religion that is sweeping the board is the focus on distance. As stated before, cast to where the fish are and leave the macho stuff for the casting pond. I know that sometimes distance is nice and on rare rivers (Thompson, Snake), it might be needed but for the majority of steelheading, 60-80 foot casts will cover the vast majority of the fish, And those crisp 80' presentations don't spook fish like the mangled in a heap 100'+ attempts either.
 

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Since we are expanding the though of modest casting distance here are some additionalthoughts. My fishing buddy a former Scots junior spey casting champion from the Spey valley makes beautiful consistant casts of 120 plus ' from his custom built hand crafted 16' rods but does he cast 120' for fishing purposes. he does not he fits his rods with a standard 90' double taper line. But does he catch fish ;you bet your life he does.I have followed him down hundreds of miles of salmon and steelhead runs on the Thompson, the Bella Coola the Eagle and the Shuswap and I have watched him catch more anadromous fish than most fishermen would land in a lifetime.
Every cast is perfection.Every mend is perfect and his sence of fish presence is unbelievable. If he fishes a short line why shouldent we.
 

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LA and Sinktip,

I couldn't agree more. On the Skagit I will cast 100 feet in some runs. The key word here is some runs! The rest of the time I'm fishing at 80 to 85 feet. And one of my best friends catches his share of fish with his casts of 60 to 70 feet, in fact, he rarely casts over 70 feet because he hasn't the desire to spend time learning how to cast that far and he prefers to use the Windcutter and feels that 870 feet is plenty far enough. In the summer, I rarely cast over 70 feet because I am using a shorter and lighter rod, fishing smaller rivers than the Skagit, and the water is much skinnier as well.

I much prefer to see a person making soncistent and effective casts at 60 feet than simply having a pile when trying for 80 feet or more. Presentation is far more important than casting distance. And even with a 100 foot cast, you must keep your fly under control and then there is the added burden to move that much more line to strike the fish.

It appears that we have entered the cult of the long cast as oposed to learning how to fish a cast properly.
 

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casting vs fishing

I agree with all the above. The ability to control the line while fishing is all-important - this, to my mind, is one of the great advantages of the long rods we use. It's quite possible to cast 90' + all day with a suitable 9' rod, but you have very little line control after the cast is made.

There is a debate that recurs periodically in the UK about why women are often more successful fishers than men. Setting aside the theories about pheromones etc, many ghillies, when asked, will attribute it to the fact that women don't approach fishing (and specifically casting) with the 'macho' attitude of so many men. Women are content to cast the length of line they are advised by their ghillie rather than trying to show off their casting prowess. A 60-70' cast fished under control, will almost always succeed better than a 90-100' cast (or even more) with less line control.

I can see that the XLT lines will have a significant 'fishing' advantage (as distinct from any 'casting' advantage) over short bellied lines in that they will be easier to mend at distance. However, so is a good old double taper. (Doesn't mean I'm not interested to try the XLT, though ;) )
 

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Distance

While I agree with previous posts that perfect short casts with great mends will catch more fish, I see nothing wrong with being able to cast over 100'. If you can, it says you have truly mastered the proper techniques and it will help you make and control shorter casts under adverse conditions. No different than casting a single handed rod. If you can only cast a single handed rod 60 feet under good conditions, you will certainly struggle to reach many fish when you are wading waist deep or more with a strong wind blowing and a heavy fly on th end. If you can cast 80 to 90 feet under ideal conditions, you might just reach 60 feet under the conditions I just described. So it is important to not only work on short perfect casts and mending abilities but to understand the technique needed to pop a truly long cast when you need one.
 

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Not Ability but Obsession

All very good points, and I think everyone would agree (including LA's Scots Junior Champion) that developing the "skill" of speycasting is a good thing.

But that's different than an "obsession with distance". Many of the finest casters I've ever seen (and yes, I have seen "Steve the Mighty" cast and Yes, I do count him as one of the "Best") don't even know or care how many feet they can cast.

Distance is only one aspect of one's refinement of speycasting. Perfecting the various casts, being able to adapt them to wind conditions, deep or shallow wading, and obstacles are equally important IMO.

And just because you happened to cast 100' one day under one set of conditions doesn't mean you can repeat it or that it's comparable to another's cast of 80' under different conditions.

So all the blathering about "I cast BLAH BLAH BLAH feet" (and it's ALWAYS over 100') sounds a bit juvenile when you consider that many of the best aren't even concerned about it.

It's a wonderful thing for contests and fun to talk about in the pub afterwards, but it also contributes to the idiots that wade out to their naval and begin by chucking as much line as they can (and inevitably crashing many casts trying to exceed their maximum distance) and in the process whipping the run to a froth.

Doesn't really matter where the fish are, since their goal is to chuck their fly as far into the drink as they can.

If you think I'm exaggerating, just ask any of the Steelhead flyfishing guides you know what the biggest problem they encounter with their speycasting clientele is and it's more often than not "trying to cast too far".

Maybe that's what makes a "Steelheading God" - they're actually more concerned with effective fishing, presentation, and reading water than how far they can cast. :devil:

If anyone thinks i'm throwing virtual "rocks", those that know me will attest that I'm as much a sucker for enjoying a good long cast as the next guy :chuckle:

DS "Will Speycast for Food"
 

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distance

DS makes a great point. I am a part time guide mostly on the Klamath and I get folks with all manner of abilities. Often the "beginners" who listen to you do the best. They may only be able to cast 30 feet but I stress control of the fly and good mending and those that don't try to exceed their abilities will invariably catch more fish than those that think they have to chuck it a mile just because they think they can. However, when you get a good caster behind a poor caster, walking through a run he can often get out to cover new water and they will both catch fish! So it is always good to be able to reach out that extra few feet that the guy ahead of you can't. There are runs on the N. Umpqua that really take a long cast to reach - if you can reach those spots you can fish heavily fished water and still have a good chance of getting fish.
 

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One of the reasons that the super distance cast is bad for your fishing is that you spend too much time thinking about casting and too little time thinking about manuvering your fly to make it as attractive to the fish as possible.
Watch one of these macho casters on the river. A high percentage of his casts wind up in a puddled leader.Does he fish the cast out with consentration ,no he rushesthe line around as fast as possible so he can try another cast hoping for a better result.
Fish easy, within you capabilities regardless of what they are.Fish evry cast good or bad as though it may be your last.
Concentrate on your extra senses to know what your fly is doing and feel for the fish.
 

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Long casts, yup!

Just wanted to say that I have hooked fish at 100'. Watched a friend 10 days ago hook a moster steelhead on a dry at about 90'.

I like knowing that I can fish a run or a rock at 100' and yes I can feel the grab but more than not, SEE IT..... No I don't care how far in feet but, can I get the fly over there? Looks fishy to me!

Cheers,
Dennis
 

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Hmmmm!

Rick's right - I just realized that I do that subconsciously! On bigger rivers, poor casters often won't even be able to reach the seam where the fish are holding.

On crowded days, I'll take the extra time to watch if they're covering the water effectively. If not, then following them thru the run might just be the ticket to getting into a fish.

Also, I never meant to downplay the advantages of good casting. There are many times when a long cast is required to fish a run effectively, and skilled speycasters will definitely have an advantage there. I've seen fish hooked out there at 90-100' by my fishing buddies and a few of mine were probably in that range as well.

My comments were only that we've become so obsessed with distance that it's become an obstacle to becoming a "better" fisherman.

I know guys who can drive a golf ball 340 yards, but are they on the Pro Tour? No, not even close. In fact, I used to happily take their money. They'd try to "John Daly" every hole and often hit their little white acorns into places even the squirrels couldn't find. :eyecrazy: And what would they talk about after the round? Getting a new shaft on thier driver so they could hit it even further.

Now the "Longer is Better" syndrome has hit the speyfishing world. Or maybe it's been here for awhile and I just wasn't aware of it.

I remember learning to flyfish for trout and admiring the really good casters, thinking "look how effortless and smooth" as the line rolled out and dropped on the water. I have no clue, though, how far they cast. Never even thought to ask.

Just Rambling,

DS
 

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Interesting observations. I can't help but recall my Spey mentor, Ally, who told to remember to "fish" after I learned to spey cast. I was fishing last night on a stretch of river that is about 200 feet wide. Large (18 to 24 inch) Rainbows were rising about 15 feet away from the bank and one other FFsher was consistently hetting beautiful 60 to 70 feet casts across the river. I was impressed, the casts were beautiful, I was only catching fish. After a while he came over to me and asked how I could cast 20 feet of line since he could not do so. After a few mini-lessons, he was hooking up as well.
Let's remember the purpose of casting with a fly line here, spey or otherwise.
Presentation of the fly to the fish!
The cast is to position the line so that the caster can manage the line and therefore the presentaion. It is a good thing to learn how to get that extra 20 feet but more important, is to cast 70 feet and manage the line. I don't think a fish will spook if you move 20 feet closer with an 70 foot cast Vs. staying put and flogging a 90 foot cast.
It's like golf, whack at the ball on the range and then play to your potential on the course. Go out & practice long casts and use them only when they are mastered and NECESSARY to present the fly or fish a particular lie.
 

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Sure we all admire beautifully made casts, whether they are 60 foot or 100 foot makes no difference to our admiration of a nicely made cast. Yes, I fish long when necessary, and I fish as short as 40 feet when that is necessary. However, I have seen far too many folks on the river that are trying to cast long who do not have the ability to do so, or do so consistently.

I have seen people attempting to cast 80+ feet with little 11 and 11 1/2 7 weight rods with #2 flies on the tippet. It is pretty hilarious seeing them try to give themselves a heart attack to get it that far away. They would be far better off fishing 50 to 60 feet away with smaller flies than trying to cast accross river. All they manage to do is distrurb the water and wear themselves out.

As was mentioned above, folks should go and practice their spey casting, learn how to consistently cast a long line, that turns over the leader, and then go fishing with long csts. Fishing is not the best or most useful time to practice casting.

When fishing I simply make the cast to the area I wish to cast to and fish out the cast. Is it long or short, who cares as long as it is fishing properly. The thing that is most important is to cast well at a distance that you can consistently do so at instead of trying to reach the next county with a cast.

Perhaps the cult of the long cast happens because the person is not fishing his/her casts well at shorter distances and then comes upon a good fisherman who at the time has just made a long cast and happened to hood a fish. The neophite then assumes, incorrectly as it may be, that the long cast was the reason for the success.
 

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hmmmm well I am not going to generalize so much as to say that long casts are unimportant. recently while fishing with a friend on the cowlitz I caught two steelhead on casts that were exactly 100 feet. I know this because the line I was using ( an SA XLT) was marked at 70,80 , 90 and 100 feet. When the fish took I felt the fish and landed them both. Also I landed many coho fingerlings ( 3 inches long) and I could feel those as well. The length of the cast has nothing to do with the hooking ability or the landibility of a steelhead. Also unless you are fishing a dead drift you need not and should not ever set the hook on a steelhead. A fish that takes properly presented fly WILL hook itself even with unsharpened hooks.
Long casts can be and are very useful if you know how to read the water and control your line.
The only way to gain distance is to gain proper technique and form that only comes through practice and being around people who are better than you. Thats the only reason i have the abilities I have ( not that I am great, just saying I would be worse if not for being around good casters)
 

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Now I think we are arriving at the crux of the matter - we are talking about something that is often two different things - distance casting and fishing casting. Distance casting is cool and macho and can be of great use for perfecting one's technique, and when the fish are not about it can be damn good fun - for a bit anyway.

Fishing casts, that is what is all about for me, sometimes it involves giant casts, sometimes it involves dapping the fly and often everything in between! Being a great caster, to me means being able to present your fly to as many fish as possible, from every conceivable angle under any conceivable conditions. Being a great caster is finding a way to to get the job done - that is to catch fish.

In this debate I think we should clearly draw the line between fishing and distance casting - they are about two different things - they are related, but they should not be confused (as they often are) as being one and the same.
 

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I agree with Kush that distance casting and fishing casting are not the same. I also agree that yes there are times when distance is needed.

I fish the Snake every fall and until the jet boats get to the runs you will take fish in close to shore and no cast over 60' is needed. Once the sleds come through a few times, many fish tend to move out to the outer seams and the ability to cast and fish out to 100'+ is a bonus. One morning last October I hooked two fish on the inside of a current seam near 100 feet out. In that case, distance was good.

My problem with the distance cult is that two often I see people trying to hit 100' when they should be fishing at 60. Hell, I've been guilty of it myself and only in the last few years have I overcome my urge to cast long because I can. It seems that it is almost a stage new speyfishers go through. "I can now cast twice as far as my single handed rod so by god, I am going to." This is very often counter-productive no matter the season but especially so in winter fishing where long casts often result in fishing in fast water which never allows your fly to get down where the fish are.

Finally, I would disagree with Rob about setting the hook. For summer fish and smaller flies (hooks), this may be so. But for winter/spring fish and #2 to 2/0 hooks, I am a firm believer in a good sharp hookset or two. Too often I have not gotten a good hookset only to see the fly come away shortly into the fight.

st
 

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Sinktip said:But for winter/spring fish and #2 to 2/0 hooks, I am a firm believer in a good sharp hookset or two. Too often I have not gotten a good hookset only to see the fly come away shortly into the fight.
Ahmen to that especially when regulations require barbless hooks. The objective used to be to set your hook into the scissors of the jaw by letting the fish turn before making your set. I`m not so sure of the virtue of this approach with barbless hooks.There is too much loose flimsey tissue around the scissors and a barbless hook can wear a hole and slip out readily from this set. I am beginning to believe that a good film set in the front of the upper jaw may be scure.
What do you think?
One of the great virtues of tube flies is that you can use short shanked hooks in a rubber sleeve socket. I have found that with barbless hooks a long solid shank pulls loose from the fish much more easily that a short shank. What do you think?
 

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Absolutely

LA,

You are right on with this, my records show a clear improvement in hooked to landed ratios since going to short-shanked hooks on tubes. With conventional hooks I was consistently around 50%, since switching I have maintained approx. 75% over 3 seasons - I am a believer. The short hooks provide no leverage for the fish to work the hook loose or flex it open (my pet peeve with Alec Jackson hooks), in fact I often find it difficult to get my fingers on the Nordic Single Tube hooks I use to take them out of the fish.

As for hook-sets, I don't consciously do it. I may in my set up in raising the rod into the fish actually "set the hook" but I don't do it on purpose, I frankly find that I don't have time for a lot of thought at the moment of the strike!
 
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