Bad casts are inevitable on the flats. Sure, they might occur more (or less) often for some, but make no mistake, everybody blows shots.
With that said, not all bad casts result in blown shots. In fact, a mark of a great angler is the ability to turn a poor cast into an effective presentation.
With that in mind, today we present you with some of the most common ways shots are blown on the flats, and how to make the best of them.
Keep Bad Casts from Becoming Blown Shots
You’ve spotted your fish, moved into position, and made your shot. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go as planned. Don’t give up yet, there might still be a chance..
- Too Much Slack? Your fly lands in the ‘zone’ but has been presented with excess slack in the fly line. This is the most common culprit that leaves anglers asking the question ‘why didn’t he eat my fly?’ The common answer? He did, there was just too much slack in the fly line and/or leader to feel the take quick enough to set the hook. To save a cast that results in a ‘slacky’ presentation, strip quickly the moment it hits the water to remove the slack before the fish sees (or eats) your fly. That way, you can stick him the second he hops on.
- Cast Too Far? Over shooting your target is another common way to blow a shot at a bonefish. Why? Because casting too far always requires the fly to be retrieved towards the fish, instead of away from it. It’s not natural for prey to ‘chase’ a predator, and more often than not, stripping a fly towards a bonefish will cause it to spook. To save a cast that turned out a little further the planned, wait. Give the fish time to change direction to give your fly a better angle to be retrieved away from the fish. If it doesn’t appear the fish is likely to change direction, move your fly slow with short strips to grab the fish’s attention, without sending it run for the hills.
- Cast Too Short? Casting too short, such that your fly lands too far away for the fish to notice it, is one of the easiest casts to save. That being said, its also one of the most common ways shots are blown. When coming up short, many anglers attempt to recast as quickly as possible. The problem? In a fury to get the fly back in the zone, they rip the fly line off of the water, making enough noise to spook the fish. To save a cast that’s too short you have two options: Wait (if a fish is moving in the direction towards your fly) or recast (being extremely cautious to lift the fly line and fly off the water as quietly as possible).
- ‘Lined’ the Fish? We’ve all been there. A cast in which the fly line or leader is laid directly over the fish is the surest way to spook a bonefish, or tarpon, or permit, or just about anything that swims. More times than not, the slap of the fly line or leader will send a wary fish running for cover. However, sometimes it doesn’t, and all too often we see anglers give up immediately after ‘lining’ a fish. If the fish spooks from the cast (unless there are other fish in the area), make another cast! On more than one occasion on South Andros we’ve seen a ‘spooked’ fish turn around to snatch a fly. If you line a fish, and the fish doesn’t spook, your best move then is to wait. Wait until the fish moves out from under your fly line or leader before stripping your fly. Moving the fly line or leader while still overhead is a sure way to spook a wary fish.
Everybody makes bad casts. Even great anglers blow shots. But, the greatest anglers turn bad casts into great presentations, and ultimately catch more fish.