Fishing a Long Line

TommyC

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One of the things I love about salmon/steelhead fishing is Spey casting and I've worked hard to become a better caster over the years. I'd never claim to be a brilliant caster, but I'm definitely much better than I was!

When I started Spey casting I imagined that if I learned to cast a long line I would catch a lot of extra fish. As I've got a bit more experienced, I begin to think that that isn't really the case. Yes, it's a useful weapon in the armoury to fish the odd holding spot a way out but these days I'm rarely trying to bang out long casts. There's a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, unless the current is particularly uniform, the longer a cast is the harder it is to mend it so that it fishes properly. Secondly, it's tiring.

For those reasons I spend most of my time these days banging out around 80' (depending on the water I'm fishing). Whatever technique I've acquired over the years I use to make those casts without much effort and to ensure they turn over properly and land nice and straight.

I'd be interested in other people's thoughts. Do you feel that casting a long line makes a significant difference to your catch rate?

T
 
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Hardyreels

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Hi Tommy,

Are we talking about the length of the belly of my lines or strictly distance I usually cast?

Without waiting for an answer: most my favorite lines are 45 - 55 foot belly full Spey lines. I still have the 70 foot 700 grain line I learned with but did scale down to the shorter heads so I could turn heavier flies.

Distance wise I'm most comfortable around 60 to 75 feet but have the ability to cast farther. The truly long casts take a lot more focus and energy so I try to stay within my comfort zone. I also use a rather novel approach to how I sink flies that you may find interesting or not...… If you search for 'Streamer Fishing Techniques by Ard Stetts' there is a video in which I show my leader rigging and fishing style.

I just couldn't stand to see the post go unanswered :)
 

TommyC

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Hi Tommy,

Are we talking about the length of the belly of my lines or strictly distance I usually cast?

Without waiting for an answer: most my favorite lines are 45 - 55 foot belly full Spey lines. I still have the 70 foot 700 grain line I learned with but did scale down to the shorter heads so I could turn heavier flies.

Distance wise I'm most comfortable around 60 to 75 feet but have the ability to cast farther. The truly long casts take a lot more focus and energy so I try to stay within my comfort zone. I also use a rather novel approach to how I sink flies that you may find interesting or not...… If you search for 'Streamer Fishing Techniques by Ard Stetts' there is a video in which I show my leader rigging and fishing style.

I just couldn't stand to see the post go unanswered :)
Thanks Hardyreels - I was just talking about the distance you usually cast.

i've actually already read your excellent post about how you sink your flies. Very interesting reading and genuinely innovative imho.
 

Hardyreels

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Thank you for the vote of confidence Tommy; even when using a 15 foot rod I seldom have to push much beyond 80 feet. I estimate distance by knowing the length of my leader at 15 feet - the olive green body of my line at 45 - usually 10 or 15 feet of my orange running line out and the length of the rod at roughly 13 feet extending outward from my position. Let me see what that is......looks like 83 to 88 feet when using the big rod on big rivers :cool:

What type lines do you use, length and weight?
 

Neil W

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Over the years I have come to the conclusion that most fish are caught closer in. Being stealthy and good presentation are much more important. There are of course occasions when you need to cast a long way but these are the exception. I recently tried the new Rio running line which has a colour change every 10ft. Quite enlightening. It showed that I can cast 100ft with my 15ft rod (that’s including leader,head and running line) if I get things right, using a scandi multi tip line but usually I was casting about 70 to 80ft and covering the water I needed to. This was the comfort range for me anyway. This was on the River Dee in March
 

HOWKEMOOT

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Reaching out too far can bring problems

As I advance in years I draw on my accumulated knowledge and experience more often.
On large rivers casting a long line brings a major control issues and that to me is mending and in a week, fatigue. I fish with a 14' FX1 along with RIO long belly lines and use a single spey or double spey for about 95% of my casting. I think too much emphasis is placed on reaching out as far as you can. This is in my opinion is a misguided notion. Countless times I have seen anglers cast way beyond the taking spot, because they can. Without digressing it is quite similar to some anglers who equipped with chest waders will gaily wade into a pool, over the top of the fish and attempt a cast into the next county, because they can and lack the knowledge and experience. Knowledge of the lies and taking places at different river heights is much more important than being able to cast a long line. So I am happy to cast my long belly plus a 5' polytip plus say 4-5' of leader.
Whereas on my local spate rivers often the shorter the better.
Dare I say it I seem to catch my allotted number.
M
 

Rennie

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Every time we have a similar topic it always boils down to the same thing, wading too far and casting past any fish that are closer.
Well aside to the fact of physically reaching fish out in the stream of bigger rivers, the most important reason for casting a long line is to control the speed of your flee and how its fishing.
Now before we go any further,I'd say there's casting a long line and casting a long line.Merely lobbing it all out there and letting the current do the job isn't really best use of a long line.Those who can cast a long line at the correct angle, nice n straight as far as it needs to be cast are the ones doing the catching of fish.
Rather sadly it seems to be accepted that just lobbing it all out there will do the job, long long way off the mark I'm afraid.The line you cast-albeit short or long- needs to land tight and straight, gently too with as little disturbance as possible, at the angle you are aiming for in order to fish your flee at the speed you want it to fish.If you are the type who struggles to hit the same river in consecutive casts, well sorry but there's not much exercise of control over your flee there..
Sadly whether you like it or not, what sets the better anglers aside from those of a lessor skill level is the ability to control the flee and the higher the skill level an individual has then the greater circumstances that individual can control their flee throughout.
Arguably the skill level lays in knowing where you should be giving your best efforts in fishing your flee.
The greater the distance you cast, the more input needed to get the flee to do what's required, the greater the individuals skill needed not only to cast that far but needed to impart any form of control over the flee to gain best effects.
Dare I say it myself,I catch my share too and that's at a range from just off my boot toes to as far as I can cast at times.However for me the important thing is not merely getting the flee out there, rather how it gets out there and how it behaves when its out there..
There's a lot of mileage in this topic yet, going to need a second bowl of cereal and a bigger pot of tea 1st.
Cast on dudes.Pedro.
 

Tangled

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Mixed feeling about this. I think it's important to have the choice - ie ability - to chuck a long line because in a lot of situations it's necessary. And it's pretty damn cool. Sadly it's a skill I'm still learning.

I was on a big river last year and was advised by the guide to try to cast further 'just in case there are fish in the middle' .wink.

But also if you're fishing blind, searching for fish, casting to the far bank, swinging the fly to the near bank and taking a step or two does actually cover the whole river.
 

keirstream

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Mixed feeling about this. I think it's important to have the choice - ie ability - to chuck a long line because in a lot of situations it's necessary. And it's pretty damn cool. Sadly it's a skill I'm still learning.
That is very true and I know 3 lies on my local beat where you need to be able to cast 105ft+ whilst up to your belly, one of them with no space for a big D as the wading positing is tight against a high bank. 2 out of 3 of these lies perform every autumn, the 3rd should do better this year as accumulated debris shielding it has been removed.:thumb:
Sadly, of course, these are all river fish but when we used to get licers through September and October they held fish just the same.
The point being here is that the other 2 rods are quite happy with 75 foot casts so I have a larder all to myself that I plunder every visit whilst the other lads complain about not being able to reach them and blank on some days when I have done O.K.:thumb:
I honestly think you need a long cast in your repertoire for these situations, it definitely helps to pull one or 2 out of the bag. My 2 mates won't even try and I don't know why.
Anyway, despite being able to throw a long cast or 2, it hasn't helped me so far this season, that monkey remains super glued to my back and its getting decidedly smellier.:(:(
 
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neilt

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A lot of sense being talked above.
If you’re on your “own” bit of water - first run thru the pool - up to your shins wading, poly & dressed fly. Second run wade deeper, same set up. Third run - sinking line & tube - chuck it far and give it a good trawl through.
Bit different on club/Association water when it’s busy and you’re following others.
One other point - if you’re fishing a longer line than you normally fish & fishing off the reel - set your drag a bit tighter - the extra line adds tension meaning possibly - fish on - oh .hite, where did that go, thought it was a good take...

And to the OP - a good skill to have - but use it to catch fish.
 
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keirstream

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A lot of sense being talked above.
If you’re on your “own” bit of water - first run thru the pool - up to your shins wading, poly & dressed fly. Second run wade deeper, same set up. Third run - sinking line & tube - chuck it far and give it a good trawl through.
Sure thing but I would caveat when I mix and match lines I normally have 2 rods set up and use one exclusively for the sinker and the other one to explore distances and depths.
On my beat the average width is around 30 yards and I would say that normally 70% of the fish are caught in the 1st third of the river and 20% in the inside 2/3. The rest are caught where pools widen and lies are further across.
If we do have periods of high water though then the inside portion of the river comes into its own and pretty much reverses the above.
You need to be aware at all times of what is happening in different flows.
 

lax0341

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One of the things I love about salmon/steelhead fishing is Spey casting and I've worked hard to become a better caster over the years. I'd never claim to be a brilliant caster, but I'm definitely much better than I was!

When I started Spey casting I imagined that if I learned to cast a long line I would catch a lot of extra fish. As I've got a bit more experienced, I begin to think that that isn't really the case. Yes, it's a useful weapon in the armoury to fish the odd holding spot a way out but these days I'm rarely trying to bang out long casts. There's a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, unless the current is particularly uniform, the longer a cast is the harder it is to mend it so that it fishes properly. Secondly, it's tiring.

For those reasons I spend most of my time these days banging out around 80' (depending on the water I'm fishing). Whatever technique I've acquired over the years I use to make those casts without much effort and to ensure they turn over properly and land nice and straight.

I'd be interested in other people's thoughts. Do you feel that casting a long line makes a significant difference to your catch rate?

T
I totally agree with your point of view .
Some years ago I fished mostly with strong 14ft and 15ft rods to cast a long line. In the afternoon and early evening, when the fishing was often at its best, I often get tired and did some indelicate or wrong casting. Nowadays I mostly fish with my 13ft or a light 14ft rod and fish a shorter line in a faster way. For me that’s much more comfortable and catches the same amount of fish.
The only rivers where I felt a bit underdistanced with this method are the Spey, Gaula and Dalsälven.On some places the Tyne if the water is in a big flow.
 
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neilt

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”Sure thing but I would caveat when I mix and match lines I normally have 2 rods set up and use one exclusively for the sinker and the other one to explore distances and depths.”
Full Tay day out - I always have at least 2 rods up.
 

bluejay

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Agree with the points being made. As mentioned there can be an advantage to a long cast at a sharp angle to the stream, casting downstream at a sharp angle to allow a slower swing of the fly, especially in waters that are a bit on the fast side. One might cast well over 100' but the perpendicular distance from you might only be 40' or 50'. Also, if stealth is needed the longer casting keeps you farther from your quarry. And, I have found that as I age I don't trust my wading abilities as much and wading the shallower water forces me to cast a bit farther to hit the desired lies.
I do like to fish the longer rods and lines but as mentioned you don't always know what the fly is doing so far out there. How many currents are acting on the fly distorting the swing? I do seek out those wider flats with relatively even flows on big rivers that can hold fish as I enjoy fishing this way. Unfortunately there are not lots of runs like this where I am at.
 

MCXFisher

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There no escaping the truth that the far bank has a magnetic attraction for the average novice. This causes them to try to hard and as a result deliver disorderly casts with poor leader extension, that actually only fish a small part of the river effectively. As they gain experience they learn that a well delivered fly that is working effectively immediately after arrival will catch more fish.

This is what led me to write:

Common Novice Error 1 - Dumb Distance
Common Novice Error 2 - Far Bank Fixation
Common Novice Error 5 - Forgetting the Fly

We also make the error of extending our line too quickly when we first start fishing a pool, rather than clearing the foreground effectively. Working the fly to cover the lies closer to you yields more fish than stopping when the head is at optimum casting length.

I don't fish big rivers frequently, but on the medium sized ones I have historically caught most fish within 50 or so feet of the rod tip.
 

TommyC

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Thank you for the vote of confidence Tommy; even when using a 15 foot rod I seldom have to push much beyond 80 feet. I estimate distance by knowing the length of my leader at 15 feet - the olive green body of my line at 45 - usually 10 or 15 feet of my orange running line out and the length of the rod at roughly 13 feet extending outward from my position. Let me see what that is......looks like 83 to 88 feet when using the big rod on big rivers :cool:

What type lines do you use, length and weight?
Well, I'm swinging some fairly substantial flies these days so I'm limited to skagit type set ups most of the year. I've got three main set ups for this:

1. My small river set up is a switch rod with a 23' 475 grain skagit. I've been using this most of this spring and thoroughly enjoyed it.

2. My standard steelhead set up is a 625 grain skagit max long (29' ?).

3. My chinook/heavy tips set up is a 750 grain skagit max long.

When I was back in the uk fishing for atlantics my favourite set up, which for casting pleasure is still my favourite, was a 65' carron floating line fished with poly leaders.
 

Tyke

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I agree with many of the earlier posts which said that people often over-wade in new water, & try to chuck it too far, beyond where they can maintain control; as they will do better fishing their' side of the river more effectively - that is, on most occasions.

However, once they have done this, & assuming they aren't due to change beats in the next 15 minutes, then that is the time to remember that the river has 2 banks & fish may lie off both of them. So, assuming you can stretch out & throw a long line 40 or more yards, with the appropriate level of precision & control (that's always the big rider here) then, if it opens up new water to you that was unfished on the previous run down, do it - it won't do any harm and it may catch you a fish you wouldn't have otherwise caught.

The angler just has to be realistic about what he/ she can achieve; a hint here, a 16 ft rod & long line will give better control as to how the fly fishes than a 13 foot rod & a Skagit head, & no, I no longer fish a 16 footer & a long line as my default setting because I'm getting older & it's hard work for a full week - but for a couple of hours I still love it!

In short, long casting isn't required for 90 - 95% of the time, but if you can do it well & control the swing of the fly at range, then on the other occasions it may just catch you a fish that you would otherwise have missed.

Regards, Tyke.
 

charlieH

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I agree with many of the earlier posts which said that people often over-wade in new water, & try to chuck it too far, beyond where they can maintain control; as they will do better fishing their' side of the river more effectively - that is, on most occasions.

However, once they have done this, & assuming they aren't due to change beats in the next 15 minutes, then that is the time to remember that the river has 2 banks & fish may lie off both of them. So, assuming you can stretch out & throw a long line 40 or more yards, with the appropriate level of precision & control (that's always the big rider here) then, if it opens up new water to you that was unfished on the previous run down, do it - it won't do any harm and it may catch you a fish you wouldn't have otherwise caught.

The angler just has to be realistic about what he/ she can achieve; a hint here, a 16 ft rod & long line will give better control as to how the fly fishes than a 13 foot rod & a Skagit head, & no, I no longer fish a 16 footer & a long line as my default setting because I'm getting older & it's hard work for a full week - but for a couple of hours I still love it!

In short, long casting isn't required for 90 - 95% of the time, but if you can do it well & control the swing of the fly at range, then on the other occasions it may just catch you a fish that you would otherwise have missed.

Regards, Tyke.
I very much agree with this. Most of my fishing is on large rivers, and there are occasions when the ability to cast a long line definitely has put extra fish on the bank. I can think of two examples off the top of my head. In one case, there's a particular spot on a regular beat of mine that has on one occasion given me three fish, and on another two, in short order. In the other, on a beat I've only fished once, I had two fish from a small area, and lost another two, in the course of a three day visit. In all three of these instances, I'm pretty sure that nobody else in the parties had a fish out of these taking lies while I was there - because I don't think they could cover them effectively. Both places needed a cast of 35+ yards not only to get your fly in the right place but also to get it there at an acute enough angle to fish at a sensible speed (i.e. not too square a cast). So in answer to the original question "Do you feel that casting a long line makes a significant difference to your catch rate?", I can say with confidence that casting a long line has caught me fish that I wouldn't otherwise have caught.

The corollary to this is whether casting too long a line has sometimes meant that I haven't caught fish that I might otherwise have done. And of course that's an unanswerable question. But we can at least consider why it might have done so. There are two possible reasons that spring to mind. First, there is always a danger with a long line that you don't fish your cast right round as far onto the dangle as you possibly can. The second is that your fly might be travelling too slowly in the last 25% or so of the swing, so a fish either loses interest or doesn't have its interest piqued. Both of these are probably valid points - but it must be said that neither is an intrinsic and unavoidable part of fishing a long line. Assuming that you work your fly a bit, you should always be able to fish it round not only as far, but also as fast, as you need. So neither of these ought in itself to be a reason for not casting a long line.

Of course, there's rarely any point in casting your fly where there are no fish, and there are certainly times when casting too far is just a waste of time. But provided that you don't just always cast to your maximum distance, and know when to restrict it - or, if casting a long line, you think about the fishing of it as well as just the casting - on a big river I would argue that long casting can often be significantly beneficial.
 
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