Secrets of the Deep
Secrets of the Deep
Lou Tabory's tips on Casting Sinking Lines
- By: Lou Tabory
Many anglers would like to cast only with light lines and small flies and fish on or near the surface. In an ideal world this would be great, but the fishing world is hardly ever an ideal environment and sinking lines and big flies are an important part of many fisheries. Anglers who want to cover different water types should learn to handle sinking lines and big flies and make them part of their game plan. There are times when sinking lines and big flies are the only way to take fish.Most anglers can cast a standard sinking line-lines that are designed like a floating line and sold as a numbered weight, 9-weight line for a 9-weight rod, etc. But anglers have trouble with the grain-weighted lines that have a short fast-sinking head. These lines have much more weight concentrated in the front section. They differ from standard sinking lines because the head is shorter and heavier and anglers need to alter their casting stroke to use them effectively (and safely).
How to Cast Sinking Lines:It's impossible to pluck a heavy sinking line out of the water the way you would a floating line. So here's what you do: With 15-20 feet of line extending beyond the rod tip begin your roll cast. (You might need a second roll cast to bring the fly and line to the surface.) Once the line is on or near the surface make a backcast and lift the line from the water before it sinks.
1. The Set Up: Roll cast to lift the line off the water
2. On the backcasts, lower your rod to 35°-45°
3. On the forward cast bring your rod down to a 40°-45° degree angle
Be sure to lift the line smoothly without applying too much force to the rod tip. Keep the wrist firm, use more arm and shoulder, and a longer casting stroke to let the rod do most of the work. Just casting with the wrist will tire you quickly; use the whole body as you would when throwing a stone.
As you execute the backcast, let your arm drift backwards and bring the rod to a 35- to 45-degree angle. Getting the right feel for the cast will take practice.
With a medium-speed forward cast, push the rod to a 40- to 45-degree angle. Open the loop slightly to slow the cast and stop the rod firmly without shocking it, and let the cast fly. The cast should shoot through the air and pull the running line out before the loop opens. If the line piles up, or the loop turns over and opens before the cast carries out the running line, you are producing too much speed. Using too fast a casting stroke, hitting the rod tip too hard or hauling too sharply will cause the line to pile up. Remember, sinking lines generate much more speed than floating lines do-keep the casting stroke clean.
Two feet is the ideal loop size when first learning to cast sinking lines. Once you improve your casting skills try to tighten the loop. But be aware that for some conditions, like casting downwind or using very big flies, a mid-size loop works well. The cast should have enough power to carry the running line and keep the fly from forming a tailing loop and from piling up.
If your casts continue to fall into a pile, try holding the rod high after the forward cast and pull back slightly with the rod tip just as the loop begins to turn over. This will keep the line straight and add some distance to the cast because after the loop turns over it will drop in a straight line and not kick backward.
Many anglers think they have to cast sinking lines long distances. For most saltwater fishing, casts of 60 to 70 feet will put you in the feeding zone. Most river or lake fishing requires casts of 35 to 50 feet to reach holding water. It is better to make a smoother, shorter cast than pile up a long cast and lose control of the fly. Keep the casting stroke smooth and slow, and stop the rod without shocking it and you can quickly learn to handle sinking lines and big flies.